By Lucy Ngandu

In the heart of the arid lands of Kajiado County, Kenya, the pastoralist community of Ildamat has always struggled to make ends meet. The harsh climate and unreliable rains made traditional farming nearly impossible, and they were heavily dependent on their cattle and goats for survival. However, the winds of change blew through Ildamat, bringing with them an innovative solution that would transform the community's destiny. The turning point for the Olkiloriti women group of Ildamat came when the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), in collaboration with GIZ through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) small grants program, introduced solar-powered drip irrigation technology to the community. It was a daring experiment, and the community at Ildamat were both excited and skeptical about the new venture.

Under the scorching sun, a team of experts from Sun Culture Company set up the solar-powered drip irrigation system. They carefully installed solar panels, water pumps, and a network of hoses that snaked through the village's dusty terrain. The system was designed to efficiently deliver water to crops, allowing for year-round farming, even in the driest months. As the solar panels absorbed the abundant sunlight, they converted it into energy to power the water pumps.These pumps drew water from a nearby borehole, and through a series of pipes and hoses, the water was transported to the carefully prepared onion fields. The farmers watched in awe as the once-barren land came to life with lush green rows of
onions.

The initial excitement soon turned into hard work as the Inkii o orpurkel (Queens of the dessert) took on the responsibility of tending to their newfound source of sustenance. Under the guidance of agricultural experts from ALIN and The County Government of Kajiado, they learned the intricacies of onion farming – from planting to nurturing to pest control. With access to a consistent water supply, they could now plan and diversify their crops, reducing their dependency on cattle and opening up new economic
opportunities.

As the weeks passed, the fields of Ildamat flourished. The onions grew bigger and healthier than anyone had ever seen. The solar-powered drip irrigation system ensured that every plant received the right amount of water, maximizing yields and minimizing wastage. The community members marveled at the transformation happening before their eyes, and a sense of hope began to permeate the village. This first harvest was a moment of pure joy and celebration. The villagers, once nomadic pastoralists, are now proud farmers. With the support of ALIN through GIZ, they had not only transformed their barren land into a fertile oasis but also their lives. The onions they harvested were of exceptional quality, and the local markets eagerly took the produce where they fetched high prices.The success of Ildamat solarpowered drip irrigation project has not stopped at onions. The community has started planting watermelon for its second season. This is after they reinvested a percentage of their harvest money.

Word of Ildamat transformation spread, and neighboring pastoralist communities began to take notice. They too wanted to embrace this sustainable farming model. ALIN through GIZ, is inspired by the success in Ildamat, and looks forward to extending its support to other communities, helping them harness the power of solar energy and drip irrigation to break free from the cycle of drought and poverty.

In the end, what started as an experiment in Ildamat Kajiado became a beacon of hope for countless pastoralist communities across Kenya's arid lands. With solar-powered drip irrigation, they did not only harvested onions but also harvested a brighter, more prosperous future.

The people of Kajiado County have long been accustomed to periodic drought and famine greatly impacting livelihoods heavily reliant on pastoralism for their sustenance. But when an ever-changing climate is bringing about unprecedented temperatures, altered rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events, their lives and livelihoods continue to be drastically impacted. A decade long of grappling with the reality of crop losses, livestock losses, and a high prevalence of pests and diseases, drought and floods became a regular occurrence, wreaking havoc on their livelihoods, leaving communities vulnerable and unable to cope.
The County Government of Kajiado’s response measures with limited resources hinders their efforts to cope with the climate menace. Thus, the non-state actors especially at the grassroots level, supporting those who were most affected by the climate crisis are an essential component in response to the climate crisis, and strengthening their capacity on advocating for climate justice and climate finance would directly benefit the most vulnerable in society.
Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) with support from Oxfam, has been working to strengthen Civil Society Organisations Engagement with the County Government of Kajiado on Climate Justice and Climate Finance to ensure the effective influence of the county priorities on climate action and hold the county government accountable in implementing climate conscious and responsible fiscal policies that benefit the ward level. Already, Civil Society Organisations have engaged the County Government of Kajiado on the County Integrated Development Plan 2023-2027 and presented a Joint CSOs Submission during the Public Consultative Forum for the Preparation of the 2023-2027 County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP).
This is a step closer to realizing ALIN’s many goals in achieving climate justice for “Democracy, climate justice, and public education for all in Kenya,” supported by Oxfam and a green economy advocated by women, young people, and civil society alliances that achieve sustainable, gender transformative and equitable socioeconomic futures for communities in Kajiado.

Kilifi County, Kenya, is all too familiar with the devastating effects of climate change. To protect its citizens and resources, the County has continued to put in place mechanisms and legal frameworks; the Kilifi County Climate Change Act, 2021 to mitigate the impacts of climate change and enable its citizens to adapt to an ever-changing climate characterized by frequent flooding, rising temperatures, recurrent droughts, sea level rise, land and forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, and desertification. Similar to the conditions in other arid counties in Kenya, Kilifi has not been spared the devastating effects of climate change.

To address these issues, Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) is partnering with Kilifi County Government’s Department of Water, Environment and Water and the Kenya Platform for Climate Governance (KPCG), with support from Oxfam to build the capacity of Civil Society Organisations and communities on evidence-based advocacy in order to hold the county government accountable in implementing climate conscious and responsible fiscal policies at the county and ward level. As a result, since September 2022; stakeholders from across Kilifi County have been convening and deliberating on strategies and opportunities they can take up to influence and spur dialogue with the county government to ensure that community priorities are included during the annual county budgeting process.

A key milestone is the County Government of Kilifi, Department of Water, Environment, Forestry, Climate Change, Natural Resources and Solid Waste Management, and Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) with support from Oxfam in consultation with Civil Society Organisations and other government multisector actors developed the County Climate Change Fund Regulations. Climate justice can only be achieved if both state and non-state actors actively and effectively take part in advocating for a sustainable future especially women, young people, and civil society organisations. ALIN will continue to employ measures to tackle the effects of climate change by lobbying for the Kilifi County Assembly to pass the draft Climate Change Fund Regulations, supporting the review of the 3rd generation County Climate Change Plan, and ensuring community priorities are included in the County Integrated Development Plans. The need for the county to invest significantly in climate change adaptation and mitigation projects and programs in order to effectively tackle the impacts of climate change cannot be overstated. More so, the provision of support and resources to vulnerable communities in the county, and building their resilience in the face of climate change.

Future food security in Kenya rests with the youth and few young people envision a future in which they practice agriculture to earn a living. However, due to growing interest in farming, efforts to involve children in agriculture have begun to pay off in Ol-Moran Ward, Laikipia West Sub County. Peter Nderitu, 24, earned his Bachelor of Psychology degree from Egerton University last year. Instead of going to Nairobi to hunt for a white-collar career, he asked his parents for a two-acre plot of land so he could start an agricultural business. Nderitu frequently visits Ng’arua Maarifa Centre where he sources information about the various agricultural sectors that he might succeed in the Naibrom area.

The centre was established by the Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) to equip farmers with access to information on agriculture, national resource management, and climate change among others. The necessary expertise He gained from his vast research on cultivating green peas at the centre equipped him with the confidence to launch his project. Armed with KES 15,000, he embarked on a path few recent graduates Contemplate on.   “I decided on green peas as I learned that they mature fast and also do well in this region. I initially targeted the December market but this was not possible as I planted late in November,” said Nderitu. He pointed out that peas benefit from the availability of well-drained soil in the area and that moist growth conditions are optimum for producing high yields and high-quality peas. Peas are one of the nutrient-dense leguminous vegetables. They contain Phyto-nutrients, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and antioxidants.

With an investment of KES 1800, he used six kg of seeds per acre.  Nderitu claimed that his yield was negatively impacted by his lack of understanding of appropriate agricultural methods because he should have been using about 10 kg per acre. He used a 45-centimetre spacing between plants and a meter between rows. He later recognized that his spacing was not suitable after doing research at the Maarifa Center. He now intends to increase the spacing during the next planting season. Despite the fact that he failed to stake the crops, he later realized the significance of staking for fresh market peas of high grade. He has not been utilizing the appropriate amount of fertilizer because it is expensive, as evidenced by the fact that the two-acre farm only received one bag of DAP. “I have been taking my green peas to Sipili market. I had expected the peas to retail at KES100 per two-kilogram tin but due to oversupply in Sipili, the price is not attractive as a two-kilogram tin currently retails at KES50,” said Nderitu adding that lack of a stable market is a major hindrance.

On a good day, he makes KES1000 by selling 40 kilograms of peas. He is currently looking for substitute markets. Initially, a Nairobi-based buyer had committed to purchasing all of the farm’s products; but, as this process took a while, the farmer decided to start selling the peas to avoid losing their nutritional value. He anticipates continuing to harvest over the upcoming month. A substantial setback has been caused by pests and illnesses, particularly aphids. Despite spraying, the aphids continued to wilt and distort the plants, resulting in smaller and stunted pods and seeds. To get rid of the pests, he had to spray the peas twice. He asserted that it is inaccurate for some young people to believe that farming is outdated and that people who work in agriculture are mostly peasants.  “I have learned a lot and I expect that I will be a better farmer during the next season. I realized that embracing new agricultural technologies can go a long way in ensuring that one succeeds as a farmer,” said Nderitu Given the support from the Kenyan government in addressing hurdles faced by young people in agriculture, notably the difficulty of gaining access to financing facilities and markets, Nderitu believes this will encourage more young people to choose agriculture as a career.

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