Laikipia Wildlife Forum has partnered with the Smart Water for Agriculture Program of SNV (Netherlands Development Organisation) to facilitate the establishment of an Irrigation Acceleration Platform (IAP) in Laikipia County. The efforts are supported by the County Department of Agriculture and the Laikipia County Development Authority.
SNV’s Smart Water for Agriculture Program aims to contribute to better water management for small-holder agriculture and increased income and food security. The target is to increase water productivity by 20% for 20,000 SME farmers in 5 counties in Kenya (Laikipia, Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Marchakos, and Meru) toward secured water access for production and resilience to climate change. This means assistance to 4000 small and medium scale farmers in Laikipia.
The specific objectives of the program are to:
- Facilitate and form Irrigation Acceleration Platforms
- Improve the use and access to smart water products and services
- Support improved access to finance
- Increase the knowledge of and demand for SWS
- Create business linkages and companies (Dutch/Kenyan) investing into improved smart water services and products.
The recent drought in Kenya has brought home an important point – that we need to become “smart” in managing our water resources – especially for a County such as Laikipia where almost all the rivers have run dry this past year. During our dry seasons, Laikipia County experiences unmanaged extraction of water for irrigation and livestock. This leads to severe water shortages, which in turn often leads to conflicts.
This situation in the County calls for immediate action in managing water for agriculture. However, while discussing irrigation and irrigated agriculture, people generally tend to think of government built and managed irrigation schemes. But in Kenya as in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, thousands, if not millions of farmers have taken their own initiatives. They are investing in irrigation as a matter of survival, especially in the face of Climate Change.
Support and technologies provided by the government, NGO and private sector is not always effective in reaching these farmers, as they do not match the complex realities faced by the farmers. To make this work effectively and to improve on-farm water productivity for farmers, interactive innovation development approaches are needed; where farmers and irrigation technology users play an important role in field-testing, redesign and final selection of new water ‘use and management’ technologies and practice.
What Role Does LWF play?
Laikipia Wildlife Forum has been selected as the host organisation for the formation and facilitation of the Irrigation Acceleration Platform in Laikipia. As facilitator, LWF will provide a forum for discussion and collective action by the members of the IAP. In addition to our effort to help people succeed with this new Project, we also want to ensure that the Project does not adversely affect our river flows and promotes better water conservation and use. LWF will also work with the IAP to ensure that irrigated agricultural up-take and expansion is not another reason for increased human-wildlife conflicts and habitat destruction.
Laikipia’s IAP will strengthen collaboration and linkages among the farmers and farmer organisations, government agencies, smart water solution providers, financial institutions, market actors, research institutions and other players involved in irrigated agriculture in the County.
Watch this site for regular updates on the location and results of this Project as it moves from concept to reality.