KENYA – Kenya is among four countries in the African region to benefit from Ksh. 1 billion (US$7.95m) in the Climate Smart Water Management and Sustainable Development for Food and Agriculture in East Africa (WATDEV) Project.

Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) Executive Director Dr. Enock Warinda said Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan score poorly on the human development index, raising the need to improve water and soil management and agricultural production methods

Nonetheless, Dr. Warinda stated that Kenya has made strides in terms of the development of water best management practices and also registered its farmers, thus standing a better chance of assisting in access and efficient use of water.

The Project, geared to build sustainability of agricultural water management and resilience of Agro-ecosystems, will see over two million smallholder farmers in the East African Region benefit from the Ksh1 billion (7.5 million Euros) funding, guaranteeing climate-smart, efficient water production, and management.

The WATDEV project is also being implemented in three other countries in the region, including Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

Dr. Warinda explained that the WATDEV will collect, analyze, and implement available best practices and innovations in study areas and simulate their impact scenarios with the use of models and knowledge accumulated in regional water studies.

He further highlighted that national ministries and research institutions will be beneficial in increasing the knowledge and management of water in Agriculture to achieve sustainable agricultural practices and the project.

In addition, the achievement of the project will also depend on the implementation of innovations, sustainable solutions, and skills in water management by farmers and local actors.

During a two-day Multi-actor WATDEV project multi-actors regional meeting, Kenya’s Agriculture Principal Secretary Kello Harsama said the country focuses on increased agricultural production in specific Agro-ecologies including the WATDEV project site at the lower Tana River basin, despite the challenges within the ecosystem.

He noted that the implementation of the project is being spearheaded by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

“The government welcomes the project initiatives of attaining the goal of food and nutrition security through the implementation of Best Management Practice (BMP) and the involvement of the local stakeholders that will enhance sustainability beyond the project,” Harsama said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Okoti, Assistant Director in charge of environment sustainability and climate change research at KALRO and lead of the project in Kenya, said the Tana River ecosystem has the potential to contribute to food security. Although it also has challenges that need to be addressed, such as nutrient and water insufficiency.

“We want to start the real interventions on the ground, and rice and cotton, trials have already been done, and the community has already embraced the two value chains that we need to advance focusing on the BMP that is agroforestry and water resources governance,” he noted.

The focus of the intervention domains that will address the BMP will be on agroforestry because of the soil management and heat load within the irrigation scheme, and the second one will be the strengthening of water, as Dr. Okoti pointed out.

He added that they will also intervene in crop varieties such as rice and cotton, which are doing well in the area, and advance the same because of the commercial aspects of the two value chains.

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