KRCS Wins Marakwet and Pokot Communities Support on Food Security Project

Over the years, the Pokot and Marakwet communities of the Rift valley part of Kenya have not been seeing eye to eye as a result of frequent cattle raids, attacks and counter attacks.practice agriculture, despite having a rich valley and a river that passes right in the middle of the valley. This has in turn led to food insecurity and poverty in a region, which is cable of being a food exporter and fully food secure.

In May 2011, Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG) Mid Season Assessment conducted estimated that the numbers of people that required urgent cross-sectoral interventions as a result of the drought had risen to 3.2 million up from 2.4 million people in March 2011. Food insecurity for the very poor households in the Northern pastoral districts like East Pokot and Marakwet East has reached emergency levels by June 2011. The majority of households had significant food consumption gaps resulting in acute malnutrition rates that are above the threshold.

It was against this backdrop that Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) designed a food security project for the two communities. The project aimed at assisting in recovery from drought and to promote livelihood for the East Pokot and Marakwet communities and help them adapt to future droughts through the provision of agricultural inputs including irrigation equipment, seeds, fertilizer and pesticides, livestock, modern beehives and water and sanitation facilities. Most importantly the project also aims to train targeted beneficiaries on agricultural best practices, operation and of the water and irrigation equipment provided and on hygiene promotion, thereby building capacity of not only the beneficiaries but also the surrounding community.Consequently, on Monday 29th October 2012, the KRCS signed an agreement with the Marakwet and Pokot communities, who agreed to share the Embobut Water Resources for the irrigation of the downstream (Tot- Koloa area of Kerio Valley) and other antecedent utilisation of the River water resources.

In a well-attended event, which was held at the Tot World Vision Centre, members of the two communities led by their elders, together with the Marakwet East MP and Assistant Minister for Cooperative and Marketing, Mrs Linah Kilimo, representatives from the Provincial Administration and KRCS personnel, led by the Society’s Governor,Mr Paul Birech, signed an agreement that will enable the two communities, not only to As a result, the two communities have not been able to settle down and share the water resources but to cement peace in the region as well.

The project involves construction of water pipeline extensions from Embobut River to Kollowa plains for a total distance of 8.25km. The project irrigation area will cover 500 acres of land on both sides of the river and the water pipeline will extend for a distance of 2.5 km from Kerio River towards Kollowa with the possibility of extending further inland Kolowa based on availability of future funds from the KRCS and other partners.The objective of the project is to improve the food security situation of 1000 target HH through irrigation TOT- Kollowa A total of 1000 farmers will be assisted through distribution of seeds and seedlings,farm inputs and benefit from the project irrigation systems. This will notably improved food production and income levels at the HH. ToT-Kolowa project has been and willbe financed by KRCS till its completion. Proposed subsidiary projects will be resource mobilised from the Government and developmental partners.

“This is your project and you need to own it for sustainability,” Birech told the two communities, while emphasing on the need for them to embrace peace.Hon. Kilimo, who was also representing Pokot MP, Hon Kamama, thanked the two communities for accepting to share the water and called upon them to embrace peace.”Development can only thrive in a peaceful environment; the Kenya Red Cross Society has done for us that which we should have done by ourselves and it is my plea that we shall not let them down” said Hon Kilimo, adding that the two communities had made history by signing the MOU, that will see them share the resources for the next 50 years.

The Kenya Red Cross Society Secretary General, Dr. Abbas Gullet, who was among the guests, advised the two communities to coexist peacefully while understanding that the natural resources they had were God given and it was important to share the same.”We should not be fighting each other, what we need to fight is poor health, poverty, illiteracy among other vices.A traditional ritual of slaughtering a bull was carried out by the two communities to ensure that the ancestors were not left out. divisions of East Pokot and Marakwet District.