Kenya’s COVID-19 response initiative that was launched in 2020 is already changing the lives of pastoralists and agro-pastoralist communities.
The initiative that is funded by the Kenyan government, Africa Development Bank (AfDB), the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) is enabling herders to produce high-value crops and clean fodder for their livestock. Hadija Jillo, a farmer from the coastal county of Tana River County is one of the beneficiaries who received clean cereal, fodder and vegetable seeds that have contributed to her new source of income besides improving food security in her homestead.
Jillo who is a member of a pastoral community and has been keeping goats for her livelihood has been forced to walk long distances in search of water for her livestock. But with the support from the government’s COVID-19 response initiative, she has ended up adopting agriculture alongside keeping livestock besides benefiting from fodder seeds that have reduced her time for searching for the products in the wild. “I am nowadays growing vegetables full-time for my domestic use and also as an income-generating activity,” Jillo said during an interview in Nairobi on Thursday.
Jillo who is amongst the targeted pastoralists and agro-pastoralists beneficiaries noted that her farm is helping her in addressing food and nutrition security within her household and occasionally among neighbors. Peter Munya, cabinet secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives said the COVID-19 response initiative called Small-Scale Irrigation and Value Addition Programme (SIVAP) has helped set up demonstration plots for crops, livestock fodder production and kitchen gardens.
Munya said the project provides small-scale farmers with clean seeds for high-value pulses, cereals, fruits trees and clean fodder seeds production. He said the project that costs 7.63 billion shillings (70.7 million U.S. dollars) is aimed at addressing the need for food and nutrition security as well as income generation for the beneficiary pastoralists and agri pastoralists.
Kennedy Makundui, national project coordinator revealed that 106,900 households have already benefited from the project. Seeds and seedlings worth 72,000 dollars have been distributed to SIVAP beneficiaries. And the construction of 12 irrigation schemes, 38 water pans, 17 boreholes, eight shallow wells and sand dams is currently ongoing.
Other projects that are also ongoing Makundui added include livestock sale yards, access to markets and strengthening value chains and rehabilitation of 65 kilometers of rural roads which are at various stages of completion. Makundui said the government has set aside 4.6 million dollars to support the one million kitchen garden initiative through the provision of kitchen garden kits such as solar dryers, shade nets and assorted vegetable seeds for 213,090 households in the country.SIVAP is being implemented in 11 counties in pastoral and agri pastoralist regions in eastern, central and southwestern Kenya. – Xinhua