Residents in the Arid and Semi-arid zones in West Pokot County have called on both the national and county governments to consider establishing irrigation projects as a way of finding a lasting solution to food security challenges in the region.
They said for the perennial food shortage that characterises most parts of the county to be eased, long term solutions must be made to cushion the region from depending on relief food supplies which is seldom sustainable.
“A huge section of this vast county can be turned into arable land through irrigation. We have several permanent rivers traversing the county but the water has not been harnessed,” stated Julius Lotum of Kacheliba Sub County.
Lotum observed that areas where the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) has established irrigation schemes such as in Weiwei in Pokot Central Sub County, residents are reaping benefits and are food self-reliant.
“Water at rivers such as Chepera, Lomut and Suam are just flowing through arid areas without any farm utilisation but it can be harnessed to make the region a leading food producer. Our region enjoys very fertile soils because they are still virgin,” he pinpointed.
West Pokot Governor Simon Kachapin while speaking during launch of a house-to-house food distribution initiative by two non-governmental organisations, said his administration will rally the county assembly to consider allocation of fund for irrigation in the forthcoming supplementary budgeting.
Kachapin admitted that the effects of drought were being felt in the region and there are many families going without food.
“Less than a quarter of the county is arable land. The biggest area is arid and semi-arid but if irrigation projects can be enhanced, we can be food secure in the coming years,” stated the governor.
Kachapin acknowledged support from the National Government and Non-Governmental Organisations for supplying relief food to those affected by acute food shortage in the region.
By Richard Muhambe