This past winter I was pleased to be able to take part in work travel to Kenya to review Farmers Helping Farmers projects conducted in an area north east of Mount Kenya. This area is very dry in the best of times, and I was visiting during the dry season when forages and other field crops had stopped growing due to water deficits. To promote the well being of local farmers, in the fall of 2014, 35 water tanks were installed on farms operated by Kenyan women. Seven of these tanks were purchased with a donation of $2,000 from the PEI Institute of Agrologists.
The women belong to local self-help groups and the tanks were given to the most needy members. The tanks were installed before the rains in the fall of 2014 and when I made my visits, most tanks contained water from the fall rains. The women provided the cement base for the tank from their own resources and the donated tank came with eve troughs and delivery pipes. In some instances when the farmer could not afford to build the base, this was also supplied as part of the donation. Installations were made by a local building trades person under the supervision of a Farmers Helping Farmers staff member.
The women were operating on a land base of usually one hectare. Families are raised and educated on these small holdings. In some instances the land available was actually smaller than this, and in these instances a small plot of arable land was rented in the neighbourhood for additional crop production. The homes were most rudimentary, in areas of no electricity and a communal water line (hose) which supplies water one day per week on a purchase basis. For a light sources, either a kerosene lamp or a tin can with a cloth wick and paraffin are used at night. Staple crops are beans, maize, and some vegetables such as kale, tomatoes, onions, etc. In some instances, husbands are able to acquire local work in the fields to supplement family incomes.
The women who now have tanks, have a means of water storage which before could not be afforded. Once the women have water storage tanks, they can buy water from regional water lines which normally deliver water one day per week. The water in the tanks is shared with neighbours and extended families for domestic use.
Farmers Helping Farmers will continue to supply water tanks to the self help group until all members have received a tank. In the mean time, the women farmers who do not have a tank or access to water from a neighbour, will continue to carry water from the nearest stream of water kiosk.
Phase two of this water tank project will be undertaken, as funds permit, and will ensure that those who have water tanks will receive drip irrigation lines to enable vegetable production on each farm to be sufficient to provide families with a nutritious and stable food source.