The impacts of climate change are already being felt by people living in drylands. We received this article from Joe Kioko, former Communications Manager at our partners in Kenya, Africa Sand Dam Foundation (ASDF), on how ASDF are working with farmers to build resilience to climate change in drylands.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt in our country. We used to have one drought every five years, now we have more. This is causing irreversible decreases in livestock and deepening food and livelihood security across Kenya.

terracing Many communities, such as the Wikwatyo wa Kiambani self-help group, depend on rain-fed agriculture. To adapt to the unpredictable rains, they have adopted new strategies to help them cope with the existing climate and improve their lives.

"ASDF has trained me on inter-cropping, crop rotation and farm terracing and I have measurable results... this year I have harvested twice what I had planted."

Mwanthi Nuvi, Wikawtyo wa Kiambani self-help group.

Harrison Mwanthi Nuvi the self-help group’s secretary said: “When the SHG started in the year 2006 the members had a vision of working together to actualize their dreams of having access to water and improve their living standards. To see to that they started digging shallow wells and building sand dams.”

In these arid and semi-arid regions, people only survive by farming small plots of land and raising livestock: At ASDF, we are working with communities to implement efficient ways to manage their water. Most of the rain that does fall is lost through run-off – leaving seasonal river beds dry for the rest of the year. By building sand dams, communities can harvest this rainwater and use it to grow vegetables.

We also work with SHG’s to terrace farms - conserving rainwater and reducing soil erosion. Terraces help the water slow down so run-off from heavy rains, that would otherwise quickly escape, flows gently between the terraces and absorbs into the land.

Once communities have water, we also work with them to provide drought resistant crops such as sorghum, pearl millet, legumes; green grams, cowpeas and pigeon peas. These crops have higher yields as they are better suited to grow in dry environments. Our field officers also train SHG members on new farming methods such as crop rotation and intercropping to increase their farm yields, cope with the existing change in climate and control pests.

Harrison said “ASDF has trained me on intercropping, crop rotation and farm terracing and I have measurable results; having tried intercropping sorghum and cowpeas, pearl millet and green grams respectively I have been able to control pests and reduced the excess use of chemicals on the farm which affect these varieties and this year have harvested twice what I had planted”

These farming techniques are playing a key role in achieving food security in Kenya – helping families to adapt to a changing and difficult world and overcome hunger and poverty in the face of climate change.

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