Economic Empowerment & Environment

Rural livelihood most vulnerable to Climate change impacts, despite that, John Mwaniki, a smallholder farmers still demonstrate resilience and potential

2017 will be remembered in history as the year when Laikipia County was in news for all the wrong reasons. Human/wildlife conflict, invasion of private farms and destruction of property, looting of tourism resorts, insecurity and loss of life. The short rains of September/December 2016 failed. Crops and grasslands for livestock, seasonal rivers, water pans and dams dried out; wild life died and permanent rivers water levels reduced significantly to the point of creating pressure, competition and conflicts over the available natural resources. The drought caused a lot of human, livestock and wildlife migrations from northern Kenya to Laikipia, exacerbating the already chaotic situation. 0ver 40% of livestock was lost due to hunger and starvation, acreage under horticulture farming reduced to below 20% and over 80% of the households survived on one meal per day. The short rains of October 2016 failed, resulting in 100% crop failure and drought started in earnest lasting for six months up-to April 2017 and creating a food crisis, hunger and starvation. Priority of farmers within Laikipia County, like anywhere else in the country shifted from farm production to day to day food provision to their families due to drought. Many farmers abandoned their farms due to invasion of farms by wildlife and pastoralists; high cost of farm irrigation, and restriction on water use for irrigation by water resource management authority (WARMA); to work as casual labourers in order to put food on the table.

However, Within Mutara Community, I Choose Life – Africa farmer supported group-‘ Mutash SACCO’ which is composed of 57 people, had been trained on post-harvest and cereals storage; dried cereals and acquired storage bags; are food secure; and have continued to work in their farms and earn income, taking advantage of the high demand of farm produce. 10 ICL supported farmers who planted tomatoes and vegetables in small farms within the community earned KES 700,000 in the month of May 2017 from sale of their value added farm produce, sold through Jiinue Famers Biashara Centre in Laikipia County. Two years ago, the same farmers’ monthly income was KES 3,000.