From Pastoralism to Agro-Pastoralism

For the pastoralist community in Kimana area of Oloitoktok, climate change is no longer an abstract notion, but a bare reality. Climate change has adversely affected their cattle, crops, access to food and fuel, their families’ health and future prospects and, for many, it is simply a matter of survival.

In the Kilimanjaro slopes (Loitoktok), pastoralists still hold onto cattle for their cultural value. Their way of life for thousands of years which has now fallen prey to the impact of climatic change, and many are too attached to the animals to think outside the tradition. Perennial, unpredictable and severe droughts have made pastoralists in the area travel further afield for pasture and in the process have had their herds decimated.

But, for others, change is welcome and they are taking up serious crop farming to sustain their pastoral way of life because they can’t just stop being pastoralists.

"Pastoralists traditionally have moved around in search of pasture and water for their livestock. But with the increasing frequency and severity of the droughts, pastoralists land can no longer sustain them. Many have now embraced urban lifestyles," says Leonard Nemushai, the Project Coordinator for Noomaiyanat Community Development Organization (NCDO), a local Non-Governmental Organization that focuses on food security and environmental awareness in Kimana.

In December 2012, Noomayiant Community Development Organization (NCDO) received a grant from Wilde Ganzen and KCDF to implement a community project that focuses on food security and environmental conservation. The project targeted the agro-pastoralist population in the community with the aim of transitioning them from the traditional furrow irrigation to drip irrigation.

Noomaiyanat started by implementing a piped water project aimed at providing access to clean and safe water for household use for 580 pastoral homesteads through lying of a 2.7 km water pipeline drawing water from Nol Turesh Water pipeline.

“We first wanted the community members to have access to clean water for their domestic use and their cattle before we introduced the farming concept. Most of the community members in Kimana are migratory who travel frequently looking mainly for water and pasture hence the need to provide water for them to be sedentary and adopt farming,” adds Leonard.

As the project was rolled out at the community level, NCDO initiated a parallel pilot project in a local secondary school, Oloile Secondary School, to act as a demonstration plot on the effectiveness of drip irrigation vis-à-vis furrow irrigation.

“We planted maize on a one acre piece of land to supplement our school feeding programme with considerable success. The bumper harvest realized is now feeding the 150 students population in the school. We are now able to make savings from growing our own food hence subsidizing the fees charged to the students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.” shares David Mashedi, the Deputy Manager of the School.

“We are now able to retain more students in school as there is enough food for them. Initially, we had to send some students home because we could not meet the costs of sustaining all the students.” adds Mashedi.

Through the project, many farmers in the area have adopted the new farming method with their harvests being sold as far as Arusha in Tanzania as well as neighboring counties such as Machakos , Makueni and Mombasa.

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