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The Thika River flows through central Kenyamarker and is a tributary of Tana Rivermarker. The Thika River is a significant source of hydroelectric power in Kenya and provides most of the water supply for Nairobimarker, Kenya's capital and largest city.

The name Thika originates either from the Kikuyu language or from the Maasai language. It may relate to the Kikuyu word guthika, which means to bury. It also resembles the Maasai word sika, which means to rub something away from an edge.

Course

The Thika River originates in the orginates in the Aberdare Rangemarker. It flows to the Tana River, which empties into the Indian Oceanmarker.

A landmark along the river's course is Thika Falls, near the town of Thikamarker. Thika Falls has a drop of about 25 meters in a wilderness area within walking distance of the Blue Post Hotel, which is one of the oldest hotels in Kenya.

Ecology

During the early twentieth century colonial big game hunters noted hippopotamus and crocodiles along the deeper sections of the river. Babboons and leopards inhabited the forest near Thika Falls. Antelopes and zebras lived in the open country upriver from the falls. Rhinoceros, lions, and hyenas also resided in the area.

Water source

Eighty percent of the water supply for Nairobi, Kenya's capital city, comes from the Thika River.

Deforestation and overgrazing along the river's heavily populated course have caused soil erosion problems. Sediments have reduced river flow, reservoir size, and water quality. Water quality has also deteriorated due to pesticide runoff.

Hydroelectricity

The Thika is part of the Tana basin, which is the most extensively engineered of Kenya's major arid watersheds. Hydroelectric power from the Thika River supplies a significant portion of Kenya's electricity. The first proposal for exploiting the Thika River's hydroelectric potential was put forward shortly after World War I by Guglielmo Marconi as a means for supplying power for a planned radio communications station in Nairobi. Marconi's plan was not implemented, but in 1994 the Thika River Dam was constructed with a resulting water reservoir of 70 million cubic meters. The Thika River also contributes to the Masinga Reservoir, which serves the Seven Forks Dams. Taken together, three-quarters of Kenya's electrical supply derives from these dams.

References

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