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Pastoralists in Isiolo County now turn to crop farming
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|Pastoralists in Isiolo County now turn to crop farming by Kenyans247(1): Thu 05, November, 2020 03:09pm|
Pastoralist communities in Isiolo County are increasingly diversifying into crop agriculture as a source of livelihood, thanks to the rehabilitation and drilling of boreholes that provide water for crop and livestock farming.
The agricultural activities are proving to be more remunerative and the right step to self-reliance compared to pastoralism which has proved ineffective in meeting the residents’ needs due to perennial resource-based conflicts, unfavourable livestock markets and insecurity.
Ms Monica Epeyon from Attir in Ngaremara used to walk for 12km in search of water until 2017 when Kenya Resilient Arid Lands Partnership for Integrated Development (Kenya RAPID) drilled a borehole in the area, easing her burden and allowing her to irrigate her ''sukumawiki'' farm.
''We now have a reliable source of income and my children no longer sleep hungry. I sell the ''sukumawiki'' locally and it earns at least Sh1,000 daily,” Ms Epeyon, the chairperson of Attir Maendeleo Group, told the Nation.
She said many women have established kitchen gardens in their homes and are no longer struggling to provide for their families.
Ms Epeyon, who has also planted onions and tomatoes on her half-acre farm, said farming has proved reliable compared to charcoal burning which they previously relied on besides pastoralism.
For Francis Nachi, a tomato and onions farmer, the boreholes will play a key role in the journey towards building resilience and ensuring improved livelihoods among the pastoralist communities.
“The water availability has also helped in sanitation because we previously used to be affected by water-borne diseases due to consumption of dirty water,” said Mr Nachi.
Kenya RAPID previously facilitated Isiolo County government in establishing a legal framework (Water Act) geared towards increasing residents’ access to clean water for domestic and livestock use which had been delayed for seven years.
Clashes over water
In water stressed areas, residents and livestock assemble where the resource is available with control of the water points exacerbating clashes between communities.
The programme, implemented by Millennium Water Alliance, is also being undertaken in Garissa, Turkana, Wajir and Marsabit counties and seeks to increase access to sanitation besides rebuilding a healthy rangeland management ecosystem.
It focuses on promoting multiple water uses for income generation, household water treatment and safe storage techniques and building water supply using low cost resilient technologies.
Isiolo Water Executive Josephine Eregai said the county is working towards strengthening water committees to ensure residents, especially in remote areas, have access to the commodity.
The establishment of the Water Act, she said, assisted in coming up with a water fund which will go a long way in mobilisation of financial resources for water provision.
Mapping of boreholes
In partnership with Kenya RAPID, the Governor Mohamed Kuti administration is embarking on mapping of boreholes to collect data on pump and engine specifications for use in the event they break down, an exercise that will cost the donor Sh15 million and the county Sh2.6 million.
Through the partnership, 66,842 households in the county are accessing water, 8,540 have benefited from basic sanitation and 1,048 have been trained on nutrition.
At least 600 farmers in the county are utilising improved farming technologies and about 2,000 children aged below two years have been reached under the Kenya RAPID’s nutrition programme.
“We want to ease the burden women and children go through in search of water through sinking and rehabilitating of boreholes so that they access safe and clean water,” said Ms Eregai.
Kenya RAPID Programme Director Doris Kaberia reiterated their commitment towards working with counties in coming up with policies, regulations and frameworks for sustainable water provision.
During a water stakeholders' meeting in Isiolo, Ms Kaberia reported that they had supported installation of water and sanitation facilities at livestock markets in Isiolo, rehabilitated and drilled boreholes and assisted in protection of springs.
Families have also been helped to establish standard latrines for sanitation purposes.
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