Climate change has led to a change of rainfall patterns and increased droughts in Machakos and Tharaka Nithi. Farmers who adopted eco-farming practices are more resilient and manage to diversify their income. They keep on growing food despite the adverse weather.
For Elizabeth Mueni Maundu, 35, living in Machakos, the solution against droughts came through diversification. She added livestock to generate additional income.
“For now, I only do the crops that can withstand this weather for example, the short rains. I now also keep poultry. When the crops fail, I am able to sell the eggs as well as the chickens for income. Sometimes we keep some cows, however, due to water challenges it becomes difficult to keep many livestock.”
Angelina Ndunge, 65, Machakos, is armed with knowledge about climate change from Institute for Culture and Ecology in Kenya (ICE). She embraced training on the Zai pits. To fight against lack of water induced by droughts, she digs trenches in her farm to harvest and retain rain water longer. She also prepares her farm early to take advantage of the early rains.
“We have started to prepare the farms early and because I have knowledge of the Zai pits, even if the rains are little, I am able to continue with my farming.”
Elizabeth Karimi lives in Tharaka Nithi, a very dry area. One drives over dry riverbeds and dams to reach her home. However, the four acres on which she grows crops and keeps local chicken and goats, are a symbol of defiance against this drought. Elizabeth is a beneficiary of the ICE training. She digs trenches for rain water harvest, stick to traditional seeds and uses organic manure for a good harvest. She feels strongly against trainings given by government agencies, as they are pushing the use of chemicals and don’t answer the needs of local farmers.
“Most of those government trainings are about soil management including use of chemicals. They tell us which chemicals are strong and which ones are weak and for which crops and they help us to choose the chemicals that we use on our farms.”