Drought is a reality in Kenya, like in the rest of the Horn of Africa, and it is occurring with greater frequency. FAO Kenya is helping vulnerable farmers and pastoralists get back on their feet quickly, while also working to improve water storage, livestock health and market access so that communities are not blindsided each time the rains fail.
Building resilience to drought
In recent years, civil unrest, drought and high food, fuel and input prices have left Kenya’s vulnerable farmers and pastoralists even more at risk. Patchy rainfall means many farmers have not had a decent harvest in several seasons, while disease and starvation have taken a toll on livestock herds.
Improving rainwater harvesting and irrigation schemes, encouraging farmers to grow diverse crops more suited to the dry environment, supporting holistic approaches to natural resource management, improving storage and spearheading animal vaccination campaigns are just some of the ways FAO Kenya is helping to strengthen communities’ resilience to drought.
Tapping into technology
FAO is working with partners to gauge rainfall and pasture availability through satellite imaging and remote sensing. In Turkana, in northeast Kenya, community monitors are trained to use smart phones to send real-time information on water levels, which is immediately uploaded to a central database. Pastoralists are then informed about the availability of water and pasture in different areas. This enables them to make informed decisions on where to send their animals and to negotiate access to areas where they know there is water and pasture. It also helps reduce conflict over natural resources.
Cash-for-work does double duty: it provides cash-strapped farmers with wages to buy food and other essentials while building and rehabilitating vital infrastructure. In the drought-prone areas of eastern Kenya where farmers rely on rainfall for their crops, FAO Kenya has helped farmers terrace their fields to conserve rainwater and prevent fertile topsoil from being washed away. It has also supported the building of community dams to collect rainwater for household and crop use.