Kenya’s north is particularly poor as droughts regularly decimate livestock which herders depend on for survival but after the discovery of underground lakes in 2013 in Kenya’s Turkana region, the story changed.
TVC NEWS Craig Esohwode in this report tells us that residents who once covered many kilometers to find water are now able to use clean water to grow crops and water their animals.
Turkana lies on Kenya’s border with Ethiopia and it’s one of Kenya’s most geographically and economically isolated regions.
Until 2015 residents here struggled to grow anything.
Samson is a farmer. He is picking vegetables at his plot in the main town of the County.
The recently opened irrigation scheme is now giving farmers like Samson the opportunity to grow various crops.
“I grow these vegetables and when it’s time to harvest I give my customers a healthy bunch. They later sell the spinach and make a profit. I make at least 400 shillings (4 US dollars) per day, sometimes 300 shillings. When I make 400 shillings the children use up 200 and I save 100 shillings in my account and the remaining 100 I use for soda or water, so things have really changed.’
The United Nation’s Scientific and Cultural Agency, UNESCO, supported the initial plan that led to the discovery of the water in the region.
However, after further research, authorities drilled five boreholes which now provide farmers with water.
“There is water everywhere, all kinds of vegetables have been planted. Everything grows here, tomatoes, green pepper, onions, cowpeas. They have all been planted. We no longer struggle to get vegetables from far away using motorcycles. Everything is here.”
In Turkana, only one permanent river is available to serve the county’s 1 million residents leaving the county highly dependent on ground water sources.
Interestingly, the ministry of water says it’s working on further research on the water reserves.
‘Currently the aquifer which is being exploited is the one at the top, but there are plans also to investigate the deeper aquifer to see whether even if it cannot be used for domestic purposes, whether it can be used for irrigation and other purposes.”
More than a third of Kenya’s 41 million people remain without access to clean water but Turkana’s underground lakes could help mitigate the recurring hunger crises for now.