Community Food Sustainability, Soil/Water Conservation
University of Eldoret
CCRP project Drylands FRN, farmer groups, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, local administration, primary school, West Pokot county government, Kenya Forest Service, Ministry of Water and Irrigation, National Environmental Management Authority, CCRP sister projects, and KALRO
About 87 percent of Kenya’s land is arid and semiarid. These regions are threatened by land degradation, especially gully erosion, which constrains development, livelihoods, and food and fodder systems while contributing to biodiversity loss (Akinyemi et al., 2021).
Drylands FRN identified Senetwo in West Pokot as among the county’s most degraded dryland areas, its average annual soil loss between 15,804.9 t and 21,622.6 t through gully erosion. The gullies’ severity has contributed to losses of more than 100 cattle worth USD 40,000 and reduced arable farm size and land value. The erosion’s gravity also manifests in reduced land productivity, loss of biodiversity, and low water table. From a recent study, farmers identified deforestation (59.7 percent), surface runoff (36.9 percent), deforested steep topography (34 percent), and overstocking (22.8 percent) as the main drivers.
Soil erosion severely affects community food systems, leading to endemic food, fodder, and nutrition insecurity, and water scarcity. Lack of quality seeds, climate change, and poor soil health exacerbate unsustainable food systems. Access to quality seeds through community seed systems is a sustainable solution (Bèye & Wopereis, 2014); however, an effective seed system is constrained by lack of diversification, pests and diseases, poor agronomic and post-harvest handling, and unfavorable policies (Munyi & De Jonge, 2015).
Access to adequate quality drinking and livestock water is another constraint. Farmers in degraded drylands use sand dams to enhance access during the dry season. Dam water is affected by pollutants from surface runoff of cropland and fecal materials as demonstrated by high total coliforms and Escherichia coli (FRN Survey, 2022) and leeches that affect livestock.
Drylands FRN will continue to escalate building socio capital and strengthen capacities through system thinking to unravel sustainable soil/water conservation opportunities.
In a recent survey, farmers reported that soil losses from gully erosion have reached worrisome levels. Need exists to intensify and out-scale interventions within Kipkomo Sub-County. The project aims to extend the community-driven models on soil conservation and gully rehabilitation to five new sites—Kipkomo, Ywalateke, Serum, Chesra, and Chepkopegh—identified for their severity of land degradation.
To promote sustainability, the project seeks to strengthen community participation in research, capacity building, and leverage on income-generating activities in soil/water conservation, gully rehabilitation, and community seed systems. It will further seek strategic R&D collaboration to inform formulation of policies.
The overall goal is to strengthen farmer-led rehabilitation of degraded lands in the drylands for the improvement of a sustainable AE-based food system in West Pokot County, expanding AEI through community-driven models on soil conservation and gully rehabilitation in Kipkomo Sub-County.
Specifically, the project seeks, in the drylands areas of Kipkomo Sub-County, to:
Upscale community-driven soil/water conservation at farm and landscape levels.