FAO provides relief and rehabilitation to farmers affected by Kenya floods

FAO provides relief and rehabilitation to farmers affected by Kenya floods

01/10/2018

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has begun distributing seeds, animal vaccinations and farming tools to victims of the March–May rains in Kenya that resulted in severe floods. Gabriel Rugalema, FAO Representative in Kenya, said that about USD 500 000 worth of agricultural contributions will be distributed to Kilifi, Tana River and Turkana counties.

Many parts of the country received more rain in the first three months of 2018 than in the whole of 2017, leading to death, disruption, displacement and outbreaks of diseases such as cholera and Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus. According to the Kenya National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC), the June floods affected around 800 000 people in 13 counties, devastating crops and causing the loss of 186 lives. The heavy rains also damaged road infrastructure and many areas suffered massive environmental degradation from soil erosion.

As well as seeds, tools and vaccinations, the money will be used to repair damaged farming irrigation canals, pipes, pumps and station chambers. Mr Rugalema highlighted that flood damage along the Tana and Sabaki riverbanks has put the food and nutrition security of the majority of farmers in these areas at risk. "The contributions are aimed at enabling farmers go back to their farms and start recouping their lost sources of income," he said, adding that FAO has secured internal resources to support capacity development in disaster needs assessment. "We plan to train Government officials in a detailed methodology to assess and quantify the damage and losses incurred as a result of disasters," he explained.

The majority of farmers lost seeds and tools, while many also lost their homes, livestock, and by consequence their livelihoods. The County Executive responsible for agriculture in Kilifi said farmers are being encouraged to plant their seeds now ahead of the short rainy season forecast for October, and before the drought is due to begin in December.

Enhancing sustainable production

To sustainably increase food production and further protect farmers’ livelihoods, Mr Rugalema added that Kenya must invest in technology-driven agriculture. With access to more advanced tools and technologies, farmers can shift from small-scale or subsistence farming to higher-yield, market-oriented practices, which also makes the agricultural sector more attractive to rural youth. “We intend to help transform Kenyan farmers’ mindset towards growing crops with a focus on making a profit,” Mr Rugalema said during a meeting with Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.

Last year, FAO collaborated with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to develop an aquaculture project for Kenya worth USD 66 million, the implementation of which has now begun. Through its Investment Centre (TCI), FAO also collaborated with the World Bank in the formulation of two projects – the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture project and the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth project, which have now been funded to the tune of USD 500 million and for which FAO is providing technical assistance. “FAO will continue to support the Government of Kenya in creating a conducive policy for investment in agricultural development to Kenya,” added Mr. Rugalema.

The Government of Kenya is currently preparing to host a global Blue Economy Conference (26-28 November 2018), which FAO is supporting through its Blue Growth Initiative and expects to implement the actions agreed during the conference. The Blue Growth Initiative aims to harness the potential of oceans, seas and coasts by supporting more productive, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture while conserving biodiversity and empowering communities.  

One of the priorities of the new FAO Country Programming Framework (CPF 2018-2022) for Kenya is improved governance of natural resources. Under this priority area, FAO will emphasize climate-smart agriculture, water harvesting, water management, land digitalization, and support for land registry systems as well as Geographic Information System (GIS) equipment in eight counties in the country. “We hope that by the end of the five years, the programme will have helped to improve the lives of Kenyan population, especially in rural areas,” he concluded.