Friday, July 3, 2009

Food for work initiative
By John Njue

In recent past, most parts of Mwingi districts have been experiencing recurring episodes of devastating drought and famine. This trend combined with increasingly unpredictable weather changes due to climatic change in the area.

Water is life and both human and animal cannot survive without it. Yet most arid and semi arid area region in Kenya experiences severe water shortage .People of Kyuso district rely on water from River Manzolo and water provided by Tana and Athi river development Authority(TARDA) from Kiambere Dam. This water is vilified from the water point by donkeys which are very skinny for lack of pasture.

In Kyuso, one of the four divisions of Kyuso district, most of people have realized the need to conserve water for future use. The Action Aids, an organization dealing with water development in collaboration with ministry Agriculture has started a food for work initiatives where they involves the community members in preparing community based projects.

The project involves the local wananchi who are selected from the neediest to the less needy. The selection is done in villages and the village is involved in selection of the most needy

When the idea of starting an earth dam project to provide water for the kyuso residents and the surrounding was first put forward, it sounded next to impossible. The most of the resident were quick to dismiss the initiatives as unworkable.

They were convinced that even if they build the dam there would be no enough rainfall to provide the water. More over the place, like any other place in Arid and semi arid area there is very high rates of evaporation and therefore they feared the once collected water will be taken up due to excessive heat.

But the idea has now worked, with the introduction of food for work initiatives by the Action Aids Kenya in Kakongo village, approximately 20km from Kyuso Town. the place where the demonstration was made is in the process of becoming a model for other places since the residents have adopted the initiatives.

Earth dam is a large water bodies (roughly with a 20metre diameter) which collect rain water in the rainy season. The earth dam is made with a water inlet (which could be a ditch or tunnel dug from the road side and directed into the dam).Earth dams have no outlets; this ensures that water collected stays there. Some dams have a spill way which is put at a certain height to let through the overflow water.

Food for work is an Action Aids initiative with corroboration with Ministry of Agriculture which they have been implementing since May 2009.
The objective of the programme, according to Action Aids Kenya regional coordinator Mr. John Muthengi is to ensure that the resident gets water for their animals and domestic use, reduce poverty and improve food security in the area.

“We have financed Numerous projects initiated by the organized groups of farmers, women and youth” Mr. Muthengi told us during the interview.
Kwa Masau in Kakongo is a catchment area for the earth dam; water is trapped and directed to the earth dam in progress. It is one of the area in Kyuso district where poverty bites and most of the residents rely on water from seasonal rivers e.g. R.Manzolo, which is usually scarce is usually scarce due to insufficient rainfall experience In the area.

Mr. Mutisya Mwoosya and his wife Mrs. Ndasya Mutisya from Kilulu village, Twimyua location, Kyuso Division and Kyuso District
has been using water from succeeded earth dam for irrigation and for domestic use. The dam serves (10) ten families who joins hand in maintaining and removing the sediments. Some of the families provide physical services of digging, maintaining, and fencing the pod while those who are not available pay Kshs 1000 per annum. The dam started as a farm pod and this can be said to be a success story and therefore the dam on progress should also succeed if efforts are put. Many people and without the community should learn form this example and start implementing similar projects.

The dam is expected to be fenced, preferably using live fetch using the local trees species to ensure children and livestock do not destroy the dam water. Water scarcity in this area also affects domestic animals and there fore if the dam is not fetched, water will be destroyed by the thirsty animals. Livestock from Kyuso travels for over 10km in search of water.

Despite the fact that the water will be collected from the run off, the community will use this water for both drinking and washing. According to the residents if they become selective on the water they take, then they will die of thirst. Most of water source in Kyuso district is saline except water drawn from Kiambere dam by Tana Athi river Development Authority(TARDA) and its sister authority Tana Athi water Board.

Scooping of more earth dam may help in solving the water problem in this area .Although it doesn’t rain heavily and frequently. The little water collected from the surface run off will help in sustaining them for sometime. In the last short rain season of April-May, it only rained four days as follow.

DAY Amount in (mm)
6th April 2009 21mm
7th April 2009 40mm
13th April 2009 10.5mm
26th April 2009 27.5mm
28th April 2009 3mm

Initiative like this are encouraged to curb the problem of water and impact of climate change. The most of the development activities uses water for implementation and therefore if the problem of water shortage is solved then Kyuso district and its surrounding will develop.

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