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Turkana, Israel partner in food security, water programmes

Israeli Ambassador to Kenya Governor Oded Joseph and Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok have agreed to promote partnership between the County Government and Israel in food security and water programmes.

Speaking during a meeting in Lodwar Monday, Joseph and Nanok acknowledged the similarities between the two entities especially on climate, with the Turkana administration keen on replicating some of the successful Israeli innovations and programmes.

The duo committed to establish a joint technical team to further explore the collaboration.

The ambassador revealed that Israel had identified ten counties to engage in a direct working relationship, with Turkana being one of the devolved units picked.

On water management, the Ambassador announced that the Israeli Government together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will support development of the County Water Laboratory capacity to carry out tests on quality and suitability of water.

He said the lab will provide information which will advise best interventions depending on the quality of water.

Amb. Joseph stated that the County could emulate Israel and adopt different approaches to address water scarcity, including desalination and water harvesting.

He shared the proposal on the water management programme with the governor, while promising to push for inclusion of recent local graduates in agriculture in an Israeli-funded sponsorship programme for select Kenyans to undergo a 11-month specialised training in Israel.

The graduates will then be required to then work in Turkana, with the sole objective of increasing expertise in the field.

And to continue capacity building for County staff, the Ambassador informed the Governor that in-person training in Israel will commence after Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted. However, virtual training will be held in the meantime.

On his part, the governor agreed that transformation of Turkana would require similar commitment from area residents in the same way Israel struggled to build all aspects of its economy to global standards.

Nanok informed the Ambassador that the county was keen to tap into Israeli expertise in crop production, with innovation for dryland farming including transformational aggrotech.

Nanok said research and success of model irrigation schemes had proven that Turkana held the potential for agriculture, with crops such as groundnuts, soybean, sunflower and a variety of fruits and vegetables suited for the climate and soil type.

He reiterated the county’s vision to shift from subsistence farming to commercial production, and urged the Ambassador for linkages with Israeli investors who will invest and allow residents to learn from their best practices.

He nonetheless admitted that success of commercial agricultural production rested on finding a solution to water scarcity.

Nanok appreciated the commitment by Israel and UNEP to support the county develop the water lab.

He agreed that with massive groundwater resources including numerous water aquifers, finding the technology to make saline water suitable for domestic use will solve water challenges currently being experienced.

On ICT support, the governor pointed to the success of private investors under the Digital Lions tech startup in Loropio as a model of intervention to equip youth with key skills.

Other areas with potential for partnership include vocational training development and tourism.

By Peter Gitonga

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