The river is important to Western Kenya, flowing through a region estimated to be populated by over 3.5 million people. Its waters provide irrigation all year round, while the annual floods around the lowland area of Budalang'i deposit sediment that contributes to the area's good agricultural production.
Around the industrial region centred at Webuye, the river absorbs a lot of effluent from the paper and sugar factories in the area. The river has a number of spectacular waterfalls, and is thought to possess a good hydroelectricity generation potential.
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