ARTICLE TYPE

Press Release

Few associate the people of Northern Kenya with crop farming. For generations, communities in the mostly arid and semiarid counties have practiced nomadic pastoralism on which their livelihoods have depended. However, perennial drought associated with climate change that has rocked the region in recent has forced many to consider alternative sources of livelihood. The Kenya Red Cross Society through its disaster risk management department is helping communities affected by climate change to adopt measures that can secure their livelihoods. Initiatives under this department that have registered impressive results for some residents around the Walda Irrigation Farm and the Kulan Climate Smart Agriculture. 
 
The Walda Irrigation Farm is found in Moyale Subcounty, Marsabit County and is one example of a community enjoying the fruits of diversifying their sources of livelihoods. The life-changing irrigation project is located about 47km from Marsabit town and sits on a 250 acre of land. It is supplied with water from four solar- powered boreholes. Walda provides water for over 200 households and has been key in transforming the fortunes of the community here. Mrs Abashere one of the early beneficiaries of the project. “We have not received food aid for some time now thanks to this project, which has enabled us to feed our families during dry seasons. We are even able to take the surplus vegetables to the market. We are more than happy that we can tend to our needs without having to wait for help,” Abashare shares. 
 
Abashere grows vegetables which she uses to feed her family in times of low milk production when the doubts set in. She produces enough for her family with the excess produce being sold sent to the market in Marsabit town and says the money she gets has also been helpful in educating her children and buying other household needs. Her story is shared by many of the 48 farmers who constitute the Walda Irrigation Farmers Association. Since its establishment over six years ago, the project has continued to improve the farmers’ incomes. In some seasons, individual farmers have been able to fetch as much as KSh60,000 or more. Another project giving hope to the pastoralists is Kulan Smart Agriculture in Garissa County. Here, pastoralists are getting out of their comfort zones and embracing new tactics to survive the realities of a fast-changing climate that has rendered reliance on nomadic pastoralism untenable.
 
They are partnering with Kenya Red Cross Society to implement Climate Smart Agriculture Strategies to increase crop productivity. Key aspects of Climate Smart Agriculture include efficient use of water for irrigation. The project has provided Kulan farmers with elevated water tanks for water storage and installed a drip irrigation system. It has also promoted agroforestry, the growing of rain-fed drought resistant crops such as sorghum and millet with high nutritional value and introduced diverse crops that have served as family dishes as well as being a source of income. Among the two hundred farmers that have benefited from the scheme is 40 year old Hassan Wardere. Hassan has become a role model in Kulan, attracting farmers from nearby villages who visit to learn from him on how to grow legumes, watermelon, bananas, maize and guavas though climate smart agriculture approach. 
 
KRCS Climate Smart Project Agronomist, Mr. Victor Kiprotich said that as part of the project farmers were also taught how to control pests and diseases that attack their farms. Among the smart ways being adopted include use of torches at night to scars warthogs, use of cut iron sheets to scare away wild animals and birds, and use of neem tree leaves, ashes, bullet chillies and ginger as an organic way of controlling pest and diseases. Farmers are also supported during the production process through practical training on the solar powered irrigation system, how to tackle challenges and resource management for longer system service to the community. This long-term approach has helped increase understanding and sustainability of climate smart agriculture within the community.
 
A key challenge experienced by the two projects, though, is reluctance by the community to adopt crop farming. The Walda Farmers Association Chairman Roba Adola, however, says once the first farmers begin to harvest and begin to enjoy rare food security others follow. Climate Smart Agriculture is implemented by KRCS in partnership with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction, and Application Centre ICPAC) and is funded by the World Bank.

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