Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Drip irrigation

by Teresa Mellish

As we drove through Kenya and visited farms, we realized how dry Kenya is. The daily Kenyan newspapers tell us that some parts of Kenya are on relief food rations because it was so dry that there was no crop harvested in the last rains.

I visited two farms owned by the Muchui Group members- and they, too, had a crop failure in the short rains. Although these women have drip irrigation in their kitchen gardens, one woman was not using it because she could not afford to purchase water from the water line which is connected to her home. A tank of 4600 litres of water costs $4 and would last her for a month, including for drip irrigation for her kitchen garden. She would not sell any of the maize she had harvested from the long rains so that she could buy water to grow vegetables in her kitchen garden.

The second home we visited was Elizabeth Kirema's home and she was using water to irrgate her kitchen garden. She had onions ready to havest and many tomato plants. However the field below her garden was so dry looking- and when we visited her in January she had a great crop of maize growing in it.

When we met with the Muchui Womens Group Project Management Committee we reviewed how many women could not afford to buy water for their kitchen gardens and discovered that 36 of the 63 women could not afford it. It was agreed that their tanks would be filled every week for the next 10 weeks- until mid October when the long rains should start- and they would be supplied with kale, tomato and onion seedlings.

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