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ASAL counties benefit from Sh5.4 billion resilience programme

Residents of seven Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) counties that are normally plagued by drought and insecurity have something to smile about after the National Government launched a Sh5.4 billion resilience programme.

The programme dubbed ‘Build Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security in the Horn of Africa’ (BREFONS) aims to build resilience to food and nutrition insecurity, climate change, peace, and security in the Horn of Africa.

The programme also seeks to include women and youth from the seven ASAL counties of Baringo, Samburu, Turkana, West Pokot, Isiolo, Marsabit, and Garissa in the key agenda of the project.

The multi-national programme which is funded by the African Development Bank in partnership with the respective benefiting countries, also extends to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan.

Speaking during the official launch at a Mogotio farm on Thursday, Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Agriculture and Livestock Development Mithika Linturi said the five-year project, whose implementation shall commence from the 2023/2024 financial year and run up to 2027, would continue the gains made by the Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DRSLP), which is coming to an end this June.

Linturi stated that the project, which is aimed at increasing sustainable productivity as well as increasing incomes from agro-pastoral value chains, is funded by the African Development Bank (ADB) to the tune of 4.69 billion, the Government of Kenya will finance Sh469 million, and project beneficiaries to contribute a further Sh235 million.

The Agriculture CS said some Sh3.49 billion would be spent to support provisions for irrigation, livestock, and water infrastructure, which shall be accomplished through the construction of a total of 28 water pans, 28 boreholes, 28 shallow wells, 28 sub-surface dams, 21 livestock markets, and 28 fodder banks.

He stated that the project also targets to rehabilitate and equip seven county veterinary laboratories to support disease surveillance and control in the seven benefiting counties.

“In Baringo County, the project will, amongst other things, rehabilitate Kinene Irrigation Scheme in Mogotio Sub County, which will serve 120 hectares to the tune of Sh150 million; four community hay sheds and stores at an estimated cost of Sh50 million four water pans at an estimated cost of Sh48 million and the establishment of livestock markets costing Sh 45 million,” the CS said.

Linturi, flanked by Baringo County Commissioner Stephen Kutwa, Baringo Deputy Governor Eng. Felix Kimaiyo, Senator William Cheptumo, and Area MP Reuben Kiborek, said the region will also benefit through the restoration of degraded areas around Lakes Baringo and Bogoria, which are faced with massive siltation and soil erosion.

“From the BREFONS programme, farmers are set to benefit from the provision and promotion of fruit trees, which is an avenue to mitigate against climate change effects, and the support of selected community groups, who will get some assorted equipment and tools for production and value addition,” he said.

The Agriculture CS said the project will further spend Sh498.4 million on supporting agribusiness development in pastoral communities, where they will benefit from capacity building on index-based livestock insurance, uptake of new genetics, technical assistance in animal feeds, sensitization on youth agribusiness plans for loan applications, especially the Hustler Fund, and other loans being provided by the Kenya Kwanza government to support youth and women.

“Our youth, women, and communities will also benefit through capacity building through the use of digital platforms to support the Tujiajiri programme and offer training support in the manufacture and distribution of sustainable energy technologies like biogas, solar, and briquette making for energy production at households,” Linturi said.

On human and institutional capacity, the Agriculture CS said the BREFONS project would spend Sh376.9 million in a bid to strengthen specific activities in the selected counties, like enhancing community participation and mainstreaming cross-cutting issues of environmental and social safeguards.

Linturi urged farmers to embrace the programme which he said would have a great impact on unlocking the potential of ASAL regions for accelerated social, economic, and cultural development.

At the same time, he urged all stakeholders to work closely towards supporting the successes of such government initiatives in order to inspire hope, confidence, and determination of all ASAL communities and, in turn, achieve food and nutrition security.

Senator Cheptumo, in his remarks, lauded the government for considering Baringo, which he said was 70 percent arid and semi-arid but will benefit from various projects and programs for farmers worth more than Sh700 million.

He noted that there was a need to document all agricultural activities, including coffee, pyrethrum, and cotton, in order for them to be streamlined and get sufficient support from the government and other partners.

Governor Cheboi, in a speech read on his behalf by Eng Kimaiyo, said they remain indebted as a county to ADB and the national government for initiating the drought and resilience programme which he said has made communities enjoy some degree of resilience.

He noted that the county administration was working with farmers in the various value chains in a bid to ensure that they became self-reliant.

“We are embracing coffee production through distribution of seedlings and market linkages to countries like South Korea and also stocking fish in over 100 dams and ponds, all of which are geared towards supporting our farmers get better incomes,” the Baringo boss said.

The deputy governor requested government support to facilitate the distribution of Lake Baringo waters, which he said have the potential to irrigate about 100,000 acres in the lower parts of Baringo North and South as well as Tiaty Sub Counties, which are facing myriad challenges like acute water shortages and famine.

Mogotio MP Reuben Kiborek said the programme will go a long way to boost livestock production and expand areas under irrigated farming in the region, which he said is lagging behind in irrigated agriculture due to insufficient rainfall and poor distribution of water from sources like dams and rivers.

Over 50 exhibitors in agriculture took advantage of the opportunity to exhibit their products and services during the event.

By Benson Kelio and Christopher Kiprop

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