Covering 84% of Kenya’s land area is the ASALs with scanty water resources, prone to drought and have poorly developed infrastructure. They are homes to about 36% of the population with over 70% of the livestock and 75% of the wildlife in the country and yet remain the most chronically food insecure areas in the country experiencing consistently high malnutrition rates. About 24 million hectares of land in the ASAL can be used for livestock production, but only 50 per cent of the carrying capacity of the land is exploited. Additionally, there are 9.2 million hectares in ASALs which have the potential for crop production if irrigated.
Indeed a lot of potential exist in Kenya’s arid lands that need to be unlocked to promote resilience livelihoods. This is the strong message coming out of workshop on Improvement of WFP Supported Rural Resilience Programme in Kenya’s arid lands being held in Nanyuki and Spearhead by World Food Program in partnership with JKUAT through its Water Research and Resource Center (WARREC). The 3 day workshop started on 24th April 2018 and aims sharing knowledge on how promote resilience in arid lands.
Speaking during the workshop, Director WARREC Prof. Eng. Bancy Mati registed her strong passion that indeed technology is key towards solving the major challenges facing arid lands in Kenya. Provision of water is a step in the right direction towards unlocking the many potentials existing in many arid areas in Kenya alongside addressing other challenges like flood management which seems to less focused on. The most basic problem of all in arid lands is simply a lack of water. All other problems in arid regions in some way relate to this major need. Any hope for the future development of arid lands rests on finding an adequate water supply. Said prof. Mati.
In his remarks Mr. James Kamunge Programme Policy Office World Food Programme (WFP) applauded the partners for their support and corporation towards addressing the issues affecting vulnerable groups in arids lands. Mr. Kamunge registered WFP’s commitment to improving resiliency livelihood among the vulnerable groups –the poorest of the poor. He argued the participants to contribute positively towards development of the arid land technical manual with best technologies that can work and work well.
Best crop production practices, Nutritional aspects, gender and extension, rangeland and livestock management took center stage with experts articulating for integrated approach to address the challenges facing the arid lands in Kenya and tap the many opportunities that exist
in these areas. On articulating nutrition requirements, Nutritional expert and Lecturer in Food Science and Technology Department, Dr. Florence Kyallo pointed out that requirements for the people in arid areas must be met just like for every other people in Kenya.
The workshop was attended by many stakeholder from arids Counties of Kenya namely Baringo, Isiolo, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Tana River, Samburu, Mandera. Organization represented include County and National Governments, NDMA, JKUAT WFP.
JKUAT team was led by Prof. Bancy Mati Director WARREC, Dr.
Florence Kyallo from the Department of Food Science and Technology, Prof. Stephen Githiri- Horticulture department, Mathew Kigomo of land resource Planning and Management Department (LRPM) and Mr. Wycliffe Nyangau from the Water Research and resource Center (WARREC).