Drought is a major challenge in many parts of ASAL counties in Kenya, and its effects are devastating, especially for farming communities. The unpredictable weather patterns make it difficult for farmers to conduct any farming, leading to food insecurity in many households. In Turkana County, Kenya, the situation is no different. The region has been characterized by long droughts after several failed rain seasons in the past three years.
Water: Borehole Drilling and Water Resource Management
Among other farms in Turkana County, PanAfricare has been working to support Nakitokirion farm in Loima sub-county by drilling a borehole that provides water to the farm. The once rain-fed farm roared back to life in the early months of 2023. This borehole has provided farmers with access to clean water, a critical resource to the community.
The farm which is under the IMPACT Program funded by Bayer Fund has also received training on water management techniques, helping them to make the most of the available water. In addition, the organization has helped form the Water Resource Users Association (WRUA), which oversees the use of water in the area. These interventions have helped to ensure that water is used sustainably, which is critical for the long-term survival of farming communities in the region.
Asinyen Lonomoe a farmer at the farm grows cowpeas. She says water at the farm has changed everything. “For the past two years, we have not been able to do any farming here due to the drought. The borehole sunk by PanAfricare and the irrigation system established has brought hope back to the community.” Lonomoe adds that the water is not only used for irrigation but also for home use and has improved sanitation at the homesteads. “Sanitation has improved for most people here, the water we drink is cleaner compared to that from the shallow wells dug at the dry riverbed.”
Seeds for Farmers
PanAfricare is also supporting the farmers in Nakitokirion through the provision of quality seeds. We have been distributing a range of seeds, including watermelon seeds, cowpeas, sorghum, and vegetable seeds.
The seeds have been specially selected to thrive in the harsh climatic conditions of Turkana County, ensuring that farmers can get a good harvest, even in times of drought. This intervention has been critical in improving food security and reducing the vulnerability of farming communities to climate change.
Esther Elim is one of the farmers at the farm. She grows cowpeas and says the cowpeas have helped reduce her food budget. “I no longer budget for vegetables that my family consumes. When the harvest is good, I sell the surplus during village gatherings.” Elim is one of the farmers who received seeds. She says one of the challenges farmers face is the lack of quality seeds which affects the quality and quantity of their harvest. “We are the village people, there are no shops here that sell seeds hence we are forced to plant what we get. That affects the quality and quality of harvest that we get.”
Farming knowledge is key to ensuring the sustainability of the program. PanAfricare has been investing in the capacity building of the farmers. The organization has been training farmers on modern farming techniques, including water management, soil conservation, crop diversification and seed banking. This training has been critical in improving productivity and reducing post-harvest losses.
The impact of these interventions has been significant. With the support of the organization, Nakitokirion community has access to clean water, quality seeds, and training on modern farming techniques. This has resulted in increased crop yields, improved food security, and improved livelihoods for farmers and their families. The interventions have also contributed to the sustainable use of natural resources in the region, ensuring their availability for future generations.
The article was written by Dominic Kosgei- PanAfricare Kenya Communications Officer