10 December 2012

African Water Facility Grant Helps Kenyan Pastoralists Build Resilience to Climate Change in Drought Prone Areas

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An estimated 150,000 people from pastoral communities, including students and teachers from six schools based in Kenya's Baringo, Kiambu West and Laikipia districts, are to benefit from a €690,000 grant from the African Water Facility (AWF) signed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) on Friday, December 7, after being approved on July 6, 2012.

"The goal of this project is to contribute to the mainstreaming of rainwater harvesting and management in response to rural development challenges posed by climate in drought prone regions," said Gabriel Negatu, AfDB's East Africa Regional Director, shortly after signing the grant agreement. "The project also perfectly aligns with Kenya's objective to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for water supply and sanitation."

The grant will support a Kenya Rainwater Association (KRA) pilot program designed to help communities build resilience to droughts and adapt to climate change through Integrated Rainwater Harvesting Management (IRHM), with potential for greater reach in the Horn of Africa.

More specifically, the AWF grant will be used to finance the implementation of various activities in Kenya's three semi-arid districts, including RHM infrastructure development for domestic and productive use; the utilisation of complementary water harvesting technologies to improve livelihoods and generate income; knowledge sharing between community members; and policy advocacy based on tangible benefits and impacts to encourage government and development partners to scale up at national and regional levels.

"This project promises to help some of the most vulnerable and isolated communities better manage rainwater to reduce the known severe water stress experienced in the drylands and to achieve water security," said Akissa Bahri, Coordinator of the African Water Facility. "We hope the results will serve as reference for governments to scale up to reach more communities and improve their lives and livelihoods."

Details of the project's activities involve:

Improving water storage by installing roof catchment tanks, farm ponds and earth dams;

Raising awareness in the communities on rainwater harvesting techniques to cope with extreme water, hygiene and sanitation conditions;

Promoting an improved water management model for increased yields and crop diversification;

Applying watershed conservation and rangeland rehabilitation to minimize conflict over water;

Building capacity at community level and assessing national policies for pro-poor reforms.

The Kenya project is one of six case studies conducted in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda designed to evaluate the performance of rainwater harvesting systems in the region with the aim of promoting "best practices" in water management for improving water supply and food security.

The Kenya project will be implemented by the Kenya Rainwater Association (KRA), the Government of Kenya and targeted communities.

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