Kenya: How Water Pans Have Ended Reliance on Relief Food for Tiaty Residents

At dusk on her small farm in Ngo’ron village, Tiaty West sub-county, Baringo, Eveline Pkemei hums as she plucks her flourishing sukuma wiki vegetables grown in neat rows.

The store in her home is full of maize and other grains.

Ms Pkemei attributes her changing fortunes to her small dam — a water pan locally known as ‘silanka’.

The 30-year-old mother of four, who started planting crops in 2010 after a one-week training, says this could be the answer to the frequent food appeals by pastoralist communities.

“This oasis of hope has restored my smile and dignity after many years of being traumatised by hunger and thirst,” she explained.

Ms Pkemei, who makes about Sh10,000 per week from her half-acre land, is optimistic that the face of Tiaty in the next 10 years will be different because of the new farming techniques on handling drought-resistant crops.

“We want to end the habit of asking for relief food every time from the government and other organisations. The silanka has helped a lot because we have enough water. We got morale after the exposure visit,” she said.

“We came together in a group of six and dug a water pan for each person. The project has helped us during the Covid-19 pandemic as we have minimised movements,”

Under the project, “Operation Tpu Kle Out)”, farmers seek longer-lasting solutions to perennial hunger by digging small water pans and practising modern agricultural methods in the semi-arid area.

“The education I got from Yatta, where we were trained, has helped me a lot and I have benefited a lot. I’m now reaping from the silanka. We now know how to grow crops. We were in a slumber,” Ms Pkemei said.

Gideon Lenganet was the team leader of cattle rustlers who raided homesteads in Turkana and the border of Kerio Valley.

He is now among a group of 66 people rewriting their stories.

The group was taken to Yatta in Machakos County for training by Christian Impact Mission, led by Bishop Titus Masika.

In Kamanau village, Central Pokot sub-county, West Pokot, the story is the same.

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