No Longer Living At The 'Mercy of the Rain'

CLIMATE CHANGE, UNPREDICTABLE RAINS DRY OUT THE LAND, THREATEN THE PASTORAL WAY OF LIFE IN KENYA'S ARID LANDS.

Women, herders and donkeys converge at Dakane Underground Water Tank constructed with the support of USAID funded REGAL-IR Project in 2015. 

50 year old Darare Issacko and her colleagues sing happily as they draw water from the Dakane underground water tank.

It is a joyful time for this community despite the ongoing drought conditions in Elgade Location, Marsabit County.  

Drought is nothing new to these pastoralists, but the life of chasing the rain has become increasingly precarious as factors like land degradation and climate change overshadow the capability of communities to cope in times of water scarcity.

Frequent droughts in Kenya’s northern frontier have left the land and its inhabitants parched.

         “In the past, even after rain, you don't see anything. There is no recovery.  No water is absorbed. No grass grows. Livestock and crops die.”  Darare informs us.  

However, the experience for this pastoral community is completely different this season. 

Thanks to the partnership between the Marsabit County Government, Dakane Community and REGAL-IR, Dakane residents are benefiting from rainwater harvesting technology that is low cost, simple to deploy and maintain, and able to transform their lives.  The underground tank which stores up to 120,000 litres of water is contributing to improved water access for pastoralist while promoting water conservation.  Harvesting runoff rain and storing it in reservoirs such as underground tanks, makes it available for use when required. The tank serves approximately 100 households in the village.

The project is driven by a Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP) process which empowers communities to assess, identify, design, implement and monitor sustainable management of land and natural resources.

Women and children have highly benefited from this initiative as households are able to retain herd stock for domestic consumption.

       “As you can see, it is a harsh dry spell; but we feel more relaxed and comfortable unlike in the past.  Our children used to walk 25 kilometres to the satellite livestock camps and watering points in search of food.  But now, the children are healthy and happy because they can access milk and meat right here at home", says a happy Darare.

                                                                                  
Mr Adano Abudho, the Chairman of Dakane Underground Tank Water Users Committee pointed out that although pastoralists have always lived at the mercy of the rain, this project has given the community a fighting chance.   As a result, this community is resilient against drought and climatic changes.

The community has come together to ensure that water is always available in the tank in the absence of rain.  Consequently, each household contributes Kes. 50 (US$ 0.5) each week towards the purchase of water from the County Government, which is stored in the underground tank for domestic use.