The greening of Namoroputh

Drought preparedness in Turkana

A kitchen garden is a small luxury for many. But for generations, food production in Turkana district has been the preserve of the elites.

According to the Namoroputh area Chief, survival in this area is a daily struggle. For years the nomadic pastoralists' sources of livelihood have been under threat with climate change suddenly explaining the slow but consistent change of weather patterns that is killing traditional livelihoods that had previously stood the test of time. Living in the grip of climate change, pastoralists in Turkana now face a life of abject poverty as extreme weather events cause havoc with their lives.

Only indigenous species of Acacia trees and a few shrubs punctuate the hills in the horizon. It is common to see women and young girls carrying jerry cans in their desperate search for water. Water is scarce and access to safe, clean water is a luxury they can only imagine. As Akiru Ekidor says, "Getting clean water is an extra hurdle too far."

Climate change has brought drought evermore frequently and severely. Access to and the use of water sources in the dry-season grazing areas has led to intra and inter-tribal resource-based conflicts - a characteristic feature of the arid and semi-arid areas in the Greater Horn of Africa, and a growing problem as climate change bites hardest.

In response, Practical Action launched the Drought Preparedness Project in Namoroputh, opening a new chapter in the lives of some of the most vulnerable families in the world.

"This project gave me a chance to witness the propagation of vegetable species I could not dream of," said Daudi Ekai.

To Akiru and her neighbours, the supply of clean and safe piped water to their doorsteps is nothing short of a miracle.

"Before Practical Action's interventions, I used to trek for over seven kilometres to Nakwasinyen lager to fetch water. Now I only turn the knob to get water from the village water project. Sometimes, my youngest son will water our goats!" she explains with a smile on her face.

Across the expansive dry neighbourhood at the nearest manyatta (homestead), an 'oasis' (a green kitchen garden) exists. You cannot miss this eye-catching spectacle. Large green leaves of kales, cow peas, sorghum, beans and a pumpkin plant jostle for space in the 10m x 5m piece of land that is so precious to Emase. Her oasis is testament to how a small water project can impact on the lives of many people.

"After Practical Action set up the water supply system in the village, I couldn't resist the urge to be the pioneer of vegetable farming," said Martha Emase, the owner of the first kitchen garden in Namoroputh location. "Its beyond my imagination how in less than fifteen months my community and I have moved from accounting for every drop of water to channelling waste water to our small plots."

Ever since the first signs of life glimmered from Emase's garden, she has been teaching her neighbours to create their own oases. She has many converts.

Selina Nasiwoi, who now sells surplus vegetable produce from her garden, is a perfect example of the hope the water project has brought to the residents. Now the village boosts of more than seven kitchen gardens full of a variety of vegetables and cereals.

As representatives of women from Namoroputh, Emase and Nasiwoi, have also been in the forefront of urging residents to plant drought-resistant tree species around their homes. An aerial view of the village attests to the mushrooming of different tree species: the evidence of the trickle effects of the project. The trees, they argue, will also benefit from the waste waters.

"My eight trees are doing well as a result of this intervention. Moreover, they cushion the vegetables from excess heat from the blazing sun," Emase explains.

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