For many years, the residents of remote Kavunzoni area of Goshi location in Ganze Constituency have yearned for clean drinking water to no avail.
Therefore, when a Belgian charity organization proposed to sink a borehole in the area, the residents rejoiced as they knew that would signal the end of them having to trek long distances in search of the precious liquid.
Their joy was however short-lived as the water the Kitanda organization struck after sinking a 130-metre well turned out to be saline and unfit for human consumption.
But the residents did not lose hope. They decided, through their leaders, to consult the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute to study and establish whether the water could be used for aquaculture.
Mr. Robert Chengo, a community leader, is now happy that a fish farming project has kicked off in the area and is confident the standards of life in the area will greatly improve through aquaculture.
“We now have more than 7,000 fish, which we have started harvesting, and I am happy to see that we can grow fish in this area,” an elated Chengo says.
The project is being undertaken by the Goshi Develoment Fish Farming Group with support from the Kitanda Group and KMFRI.
Mr. Chengo is thankful to the Kitanda organization for the water project, noting that although the water is saline, it has made it possible for the residents to use it for washing as well as carry out aquaculture through the guidance of KMFRI.
The success of the project situated in the western parts of Kilifi County has also given KMFRI the impetus to embark on a programme to carry out research on fish farming in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya across the country.
Speaking after launching the Kavunzoni Fish Farming Project recently, KMFRI Chairman John Safari Mumba said the organization would use the success of the project to promote aquaculture in dry lands.
Mr. Mumba said that research had shown that the Blue Economy can benefit even areas with little or no rain as long as water is made available.
“From the research our experts have conducted here, we can confidently say that it is possible to practice the Blue Economy in the ASALs as long as water is available,” Mr. Mumba said.
He said although KMFRI had conducted research and initiated fish farming in many parts of Kenya, the Kavunzoni fish farming project was the only one of its kind in ASAL areas.
KMFRI Director General Prof. James Njiru, said the community approached his organization after the water from the borehole was found to be saline.
“Our experts conducted research here and established that it was possible to do fish farming in the area,” he said adding: “Our mandate is to provide the technical knowhow on the Blue Economy with a view to supporting Kenya’s Vision 2030,” he said.
Prof. Njiru at the same time said KMFRI had built a big station in Shimoni area of Kwale County to produce fingerlings and stop the reliance on wild catch found in the sea that has been used by many fish farmers in the region due to lack of properly researched fingerlings.
“The station will have enough research to enable us produce fingerlings that will be used in the Coast region,” he said.
The Director General said the State Corporation has other stations in Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Sagana and Turkana where focus is on riverine and lake fisheries.
He said the fish farming projects carried out through the Economic Stimulus Project in the country between 2009 and 2013 did not succeed because there was no adequate research and communities did not embrace the projects.
Ganze Member of the National Assembly Teddy Ngumbao Mwambire thanked KMFRI and the Kitanda organization for the water and fish projects and called upon the Kilifi County Government to partner with KMFRI in order to eradicate famine in ASAL areas.
“This project is an opportunity for us to start exporting fish from dry areas if the national and county governments will support a project like this one in Kavunzoni and therefore eliminate the perennial need for food relief supplies in the dry areas,” he said.
The chairman of the Kitanda organization from Belgium, Mr. Rudy Devinca, said his organization was moved by the lack of water in Goshi location as people were walking long distances in search of the precious commodity.
He said after consultation with local leaders and the community, the organization funded the construction of a water supply at about 100,000 Euros (about Sh12 million), but unfortunately the water that came out was saline.
“We came here a few years ago when we saw in what distress this community was; there was no water, there was no development possible and when we asked the people, they said there need was water,” he said.
He lauded the great cooperation his organization received from the locals and their leaders in realizing the success of the project, adding that although the water from the borehole is saline, the people can use it for washing and watering their animals, as well as fish farming.
By Emmanuel Masha