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Lack of rains, mixed fortunes for Taveta residents

The  scarcity of rainfall in Taveta area in Taita-Taveta County is a sure bag of mixed fortunes for thousands of residents  who unlike in the past will now not suffer mass displacements from the annual flooding menace.

The  flipside for the absence of rains is that thousands of farms in the region will not have water for cultivation of
crops to maturation leading to low agricultural production and food scarcity.

Weather reports indicate that the region will receive less-than-normal rainfall. This means most low-lying areas,
including Kimorigho, Kitobo and Challa might not experience flooding.

Even as residents rejoice for lack of flooding, the lack of enough rains imply that there will be water scarcity for
farming which is expected to lead to low agricultural production in an area considered as the region’s food basket.

The  Taveta Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), Stanley Kamande said the lack of rains meant flooding will be avoided but warned it also  implied little food as most farms will be affected.

“Rains usually lead to flooding  and displacement  but with depleted rains, we don’t expect such natural disasters,” he said.

The administrator warned that lack of rains meant many rain-fed farms will be adversely affected leading to low
agricultural production.

He added that most farmers after planting irrigated their farms as they waited for rains. With the absence of rains, such crops will be affected as farmers were poor and cannot irrigate their crops to maturity.

More worrying is Pare and Kilimanjaro areas in Tanzania have also not received enough rainfall implying the surface runoff  that usually ends up in Taveta boosting farms will not be available this year.

Hussein Jureji, a farmer in Kitobo area in Taveta, said farmers were despairing over the lack of rains with most
predicting poor harvest.

He added that some few farmers had started drilling boreholes to save their crops but majority were too poor and relied on rainfall.

“The situation is bad. Farmers planted but there was no germination. We don’t think we are going to have any harvests this season,” he said.

He  added that as much as flooding  will be averted, the farmers  still needed water for their farms which was the sole source of income for hundreds in the village.

Already, the government  has issued drought warning in Taveta with several areas receiving relief food to mitigate the effects of drought.

In Kidongu, Challa and Malikuroriti area, the government estimates around 15,000 people are in need of relief food.

In the first of many expected interventions, 500 bags of maize, 200 bags of beans and 100 cartons of cooking oil have been  distributed to the needy population.

Kamande said only banana production might not be affected as the crop was drought resilient. He however said government  agencies were monitoring the situation closely.

“Our officers are doing daily monitoring and report on areas that need intervention,” he said.

By  Wagema  Mwangi

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