Partnering and Coordination for Resilience in Kenya’s Northern Arid and Semiarid Lands
Selina Akiru is the definition of resilience. A mother of eight and a member of the Moruese community in Kenya’s arid Turkana County, located along the Turkwel River, she often struggled to feed and send her children to school. Increasingly intense and frequent droughts in recent years throughout the region had a negative impact on her family’s food security, and they had become reliant on relief food.
Originally, in 1978, the Moruese Irrigation Scheme was initiated in her community as a rain-fed farming project by 340 community members who wanted to introduce crop farming as a new livelihood activity in a community that reared livestock as its main livelihood activity. However, cycles of inadequate rainfall in the region over many years led to poor crop yields and the community eventually neglected the land.
Making matters worse, Selina’s community was hit hard by a particularly severe drought in 2011, which resulted in a humanitarian crisis across the Horn of Africa. Millions of people were displaced from their homes, food insecurity reached emergency levels, and human and animal lives were lost.
“The drought made life very difficult for us. Many of our livestock died, and the only way to generate income was to cut trees for charcoal which we sold for Ksh. 100 (approximately $0.98). Things got so bad that my family was forced to leave our home and move to Kitale in hopes of making a living,” says Selina.
In 2015, things turned around for Selina. Upon returning to Moruese, she found the community’s irrigation scheme had been revived. Earlier that year USAID’s Partnership for Resilience and Economic Growth (PREG) worked to revive the scheme after it was identified as a site that could be utilized to increase crop production and improve food security at the household and community level. A total of 275 acres of land have been cleared and are being irrigated by a 1.5 km concrete-lined water canal. Each family farms about half an acre and produces an average annual harvest of 10 bags of 50 kgs — from a mixed crop of maize, sorghum, cowpeas, and groundnuts — valued at around USD 500. Learn more about Selina’s story and the community of Moruese below.
Once ravaged by hunger, Selina and other community members are now able to produce food and cope well even in drought conditions thanks to support from PREG. PREG links both humanitarian and development partners working in communities like Moruese in Kenya’s northern arid and semiarid lands to increase community resilience for withstanding shocks such as drought.
PREG aims to amplify and streamline USAID’s investments in making communities more resilient and food secure by coordinating efforts among 26 USAID implementing partners, the Kenya National Drought Management Authority, and nine county governments in Kenya. Feed the Future Building Capacity for African Agricultural Transformation (Africa Lead II) supported PREG by facilitating joint work planning that helped improve collaboration, communication, and mutual accountability. As a result of joint planning and team building workshops facilitated by Africa Lead II, the partners identified 49 sites to layer activities, such as Selina’s community, resulting in improved joint planning and coordination for resilience priorities at the national and county levels.
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