We Are Literally Reaping What We Sow!

Published September 7, 2016 by Muna Ali and Omar Dahir

Under the blazing afternoon sun, a yellow flag that reads ‘MAAnDALIZI YA MAPEMA’ rises high and waves in the hot dry wind in the schoolyard of Ngaremara Day Secondary School, in isiolo county, northern kenya.

It translates to ‘early preparation’ ,as we are told by 17-year-old Evans as his face breaks into a shy smile. “The yellow flag was raised back in February 2015, which means pasture is inadequate in this area, water is scarce and milk production is decreasing and we need to prepare for drought” he further explains.

In the small Ngaremara Settlement about 20 km from Isiolo town, people would often find themselves trapped in cycles of unexpected droughts, ill-equipped and unprepared to face the shock or mitigate the damage it has caused until the drought Ambassadors Club was established in the school back in March 2015. 

"The club has been growing our minds and characters in many ways. We have learned about climate change, the early warning signs of drought and we share this knowledge with our families and community. More importantly, we learned to garden, the process has been fun, engaging and now we literally reap what we sow in the school garden."

Evans and some 39 other students are the active members of the club and ambassadors to their community that raise awareness around the drought status in using color-coded flags that indicate the 4 stages of drought. In the schoolyard, the yellow flag is waving now.

Emmanuel, one of the 39 members of the Drought Ambassadors' Club in Ngaremara Secondary in Isiolo.

 

The young boys and girls are trained on drought cycle management and early warning information dissemination using color-coded flags, as the ambassador to their community, they play an important role in spreading the word and sharing the knowledge with their families and peers alike. This has the potential to minimize the harmful impact that the pastoralists may face at times of unpredicted disasters.

“As a pastoral community our livelihoods is rooted into the land and livestock that we rear, Evans says. But in the club, we are also trained on pursuing another alternative source of livelihood; farming. We were trained on farming different crops and fruit trees. As a result, we have established a small school garden where we planted maize, spinach, tomato and watermelon. Little did we know that planting and gardening not only supplement our diet but they also reverse the climatic degradation that led to drought in the first place.”

Evans picking spinach from the garden.

Through the support of REGAL-IR partnered with the Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) the project was able to reach hundreds of children, their educators, and families at the same time while creating a community that places value on preparedness and resilience against natural shocks such as droughts.