Improving Efficiency and Productivity of Kenya’s Irrigation Schemes by Adopting Irrigation Management Transfer (IMT) Part One

Collins Ayoo
Post Date: 12 March 2019

Water sources are not distributed evenly around the globe. Agriculture consumes’ the largest percentage of world’s water, soil and biodiversity. As the world’s welfare improves, demand for water in other subsectors is increasing. Domestic water supply, manufacturing and the environment are now in direct competition with agriculture for the water resources (Garces-Restrepo, Vermillion, & Munoz, 2007).

More than 80% of Kenya’s land area is classified as arid and semi-arid land (ASAL). This means that Kenya cannot reliably support rain-fed agriculture, unless with other sustainable and efficient techniques, such as irrigation and water harvesting, are used to boost water for crop production. Agriculture plays a huge role in the growth of the Kenyan economy. According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Statistical Abstract, 2017, agriculture, forestry and fishing contributed on average 27.8% to the Gross Domestic Product over the past 7 years. In addition, within the agriculture sector, growing of crops was the greatest driver of total growth in the sector, followed by animal production and support activities to agriculture.

Agriculture is a critical factor in tackling food security and Kenya is yet to make adequate measures in ensuring that she is food secure. One practice used by countries around the world in improving their food security is the efficient and economic utilization of irrigation schemes. Irrigation is a major user of water in Kenya, and uses over 69 percent of the limited water resources.

Food security cannot be achieved without sustainable water resource management. With her growing population and increasing rate of urbanization, there is a deficit in food production and one of the ways to bridge this deficit is through utilizing our irrigation schemes. On average, crop yields per hectare under irrigated agriculture are 2-3 times higher than those from rain-fed areas; therefore, irrigated agriculture has had and will continue to have an important role to play in provision of Kenya’s food supply and beyond.

The performance of irrigation schemes in Kenya has been inconsistent. According to the National Irrigation Board, Kenya currently has 8 operational irrigation schemes with a total gazetted area of 1,070,572 acres. However actual area under irrigation stands at a mere 53,250.5 acres representing 4.97% of gazette land that has been utilized. Of all the irrigation schemes, Bunyala has the highest land utilization rate.

Plot ‘Mafuta Mafuta’: Matters Land

Ivory Ndekei
Post Date: 06 March 2019

According to the United Nations, land is not only a commodity for trade, but is also an essential means through which human beings can realize their human rights. Land is a source of livelihoods and is at the core of economic rights; people find identity in it and it is tied to various socio-cultural rights. The discourse on land is therefore necessary in the analysis of ‘poverty reduction and development, peace building, humanitarian assistance, disaster prevention and recovery, urban and rural planning, food insecurity, climate change and rapid urbanization’ among others (United Nations office of the High Commissioner, 2019).

The constitution of Kenya stipulates that every person has the right to acquire or own property of any description whether individually or collectively in any part of Kenya. It further states that Land in Kenya shall be held, used and managed in a manner that is equitable, efficient, productive and sustainable, in accordance with principles that eliminate gender discrimination in law, customs and practices among other principles (Laws of Kenya, 2010). Despite this, land injustices against men, women and communities persist and land corruption and disputes continue to plague the country.

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