In recent decades, extreme weather events have increased in frequency, intensity, and magnitude of drought. This has threatened and increased the vulnerability of rural livelihoods, particularly in the arid and semi-arid lands in Kenya and other parts of Africa.
Approximately 98% of Kenya’s agriculture is rainfed and depends entirely on the bimodal rainfall pattern. Only 16% of Kenya’s land is estimated to receive sufficient and consistent rainfall, thus considered unsuitable for crop production.
The vulnerability of the farming systems has been exacerbated by the fact that most production is done by small-scale farmers who depend on rainfed agriculture and have limited adaptive capacity. The increasing vulnerability, coupled with other underlying factors such as widespread declining soil health, high poverty levels, declining farm sizes, inadequate expertise and poor agricultural farming practices and policies, has greatly hindered the potential for yield increase. The current climate changes are already being felt and pose a significant risk to global food security and could seriously compromise the prospective of agriculture to feed people living in poverty and exclusion.
The Gender Responsive Alternatives for Climate Change (GRACC) project has been working with women in Tangulbei, modeling agroecology techniques. Jane Limaki, a 32-year-old mother to 9 children – 3 girls and 6 boys is one of the committed target women the project has been working with. A walk into her homestead in Kadokoi, Tangulbei, despite the dry conditions experienced in the area, paints a picture of the transformation simple agroecology techniques can offer rural communities in arid lands.
“Before interacting with the GRACC project, I had water challenges on my farm and would harvest very little or nothing due to limited rainfall. The crops would dry before getting to maturity and would incur a lot of losses. I have been passionate about farming, and the GRACC project assisted me in improving my skills. Before the project, I had never known I could spread, slow, and sink rainwater on my farm. Prior to attending training on Agroecology, I used to practice monocropping.”
“I was privileged to get a rare opportunity to attend training sessions on agroecology with other targeted farmers. I visited model farms in the previous year of the project in Gilgil Naivasha. The visit changed my life!”
Jane has diversified her livelihood through planting high value crops such as Tomatoes, Watermelons, Beans, Maize, Pumpkins, Beans, Avocado, Bananas, and fodder.
“I am thankful and happy to have interacted with and been included in different ActionAid projects and programs targeting local farmers in Baringo County. If one is hardworking and committed, gets the capacity development as I did, they will be able to make a change and sustain their livelihoods amidst other challenges within the region like me” Jane Limaki
“I have been selling watermelons from my farm to a nearby hotel. My hope for agroecology in the next year, ahead of the rainy season, is to be supported with drought-tolerant fruit seedlings, cereals, and legumes to enable me to increase the farm size and have specific sections for watermelons, pumpkins, groundnuts and identify at least 5 community members who are into farming and ready for guidance and mentorship on agroecology farming.”
Jane believes in starting with a small group to effect change and spread out within the ward.
Authors:Lucy Ntongai (Project Coordinator, GRACC Project. Stella Kaviti, AAIK Global Platform). Edited by Ezra Kiriago (Communications Coordinator AAIK)