An ambitious Kaminia Irrigation Project in Batei ward in West Pokot County has been launched to help address the food shortages in the County and provide a solution for residents who rely on relief food from the government and NGOs. The issue of cattle rustling may soon subside as communities in the semi-arid pastoralist area embrace agriculture.
Cattle rustling has been cited as one of the main causes of insecurity in the region, which has for years been receiving relief food from the government due to drought.
However, the scenario is likely to change soon, thanks to the African Development Bank in conjunction with the Kenyan government, who have funded the Kaminia irrigation scheme project. It is set to ease the burden of residents who travel long distances to access water, some go as far as Uganda. A waterfall on river Munia will be the main source of water for the irrigation project.
The irrigation project moniker is dubbed ‘Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihood’ and costs Kshs 300 million will benefit more than five villages in the area.
Kaminia irrigation project chairman Mr. Joseph Lorwa said at least 7,000 Batei villagers were forced to travel for up to ten kilometres a day to fetch water from other villages and will benefit residents and said will be completed after a year.
He said the project has registered 500 households each contributing
Kshs 1000. The chairman said farmers will be engaged in agribusiness and plant crops like bananas, maize, onions, beans, napier grass among other crops.
West Pokot Governor John Lonyangapuo said more than 10,000 people are expected to benefit from the project and 800 acres of land will be irrigated. “The 10,000 people will benefit from the project directly. The County government supports the project totally because it will also create employment for the youth,” he said.
He added that the rough terrain in the area will give the contractor a hard time to construct more than 1 million water pipes.
“I had to visit the intake personally so that I can give correct quotations, giving out funds without visiting the ground is looting public funds. My work is not just to stay in the office and sign documents,” he said.
He said the road from Kitale to Lodwar needs to be constructed because farmers will have three planting seasons per year as he promised to find a ready market for them to export their farm produce.
He urged other relevant bodies including non-governmental organizations, and the United Nations institutions to invest in the County so that the livelihoods of residents can be given a timely boost.
The five-year project was proposed in 2012 and was set to be implemented between 2013-2018 but it was met with resistance from the locals close to the intake point who pointed out that they had little benefits to draw from it.