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NGO promoting irrigation farming for food security in Turkana

A non-governmental organization keen to address climate change has resorted to promoting irrigation farming to ensure residents of Turkana County are food secure.

PanAfricare through its IMPACT Program funded by the Bayer Fund is committed to supporting famers in the arid and semi-arid (ASAL) region to produce their own food through irrigation.

The organization started its operations in 2020 implementing an Agri-nutrition project as a response to Turkana County’s chronic malnutrition, drought and food insecurity.

Malnutrition was one of the key challenges and according to the 2019 smart survey, 26 per cent of the county population was suffering from malnutrition.

The survey indicated that three out of five children between ages of 2-5 years accessed only one meal a day. Additionally, two out five breastfeeding mothers were feeding irregularly or had no meal in a day.

Health CEC Jane Ajele cited the cycle of famine and hunger as a major cause of malnutrition.

To reverse this trend, PanAfricare has been aggressively building irrigation infrastructure in the county to strengthen farmers’ resilience in the face of a prolonged drought.

Bayer East Africa MD Laurent Perrier said the company is keen to support interventions that included establishing irrigation systems, sinking boreholes, canal construction, and donating water pumps to the farmers.

So far, farmers along River Turkwel have been supported to construct and rehabilitate irrigation canals. The farms include Nadapal, Napoo, Napak, Natuntun, and Natirae in Turkwel ward.

With rehabilitation and construction of new canals, farms such as Natirae are back to life and in three months, Natirae registered its first harvest in years.

James Lokaale, a farmer at Natirae is grateful to PanAfricare for supporting him and his fellow villagers. The NGO intervened by way of extension of the canal for about 700 metres towards the Turkwel River and building of a modern gate to control the water at the intake.

This enabled the beneficiaries to have year-round access to a reliable water supply for their farming activities.

“The canal extension was a necessary intervention by PanAfricare after the river changed its course leading to lack of water access to the farm,” said Lokaale.

Natirae is just one of many farms the Program supported to access water; with over 1,000 farmers benefiting to rehabilitate and construct new canals in Nadapal, Natuntun and Napak.

Farmers who had given up on farming due to lack of enough water returned and began working on their lands. To ensure these farms are productive even during the driest seasons, PanAfricare has sunk boreholes and provided established infrastructure such as solar powered water pumping machines, solar panels, and water storage tanks.

Panafricare Country Director Dominic Godana has lauded Bayer Fund for the support in bringing clean water and improved nutrition within five years.

Godana said the organization will continue to build the capacity of the women groups and farmers.

By Peter Gitonga

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