News letter May 1, 2017

A Look into the Impact and Mitigation of Drought in Kitui, Kenya

The first season of 2016 we got around 50 percent of the harvest, due to insufficient rains. The rains are not enough these days, they are not consistent. We used to have real rains; daily rain for the entire season. Now, it can rain today and tomorrow, but then it can be dry again for two weeks. So, the crops are halfway in maturing and the rains are lost.”

Drought is striking the agro-pastoralists of Kenya’s semi-arid and arid lands. Kitui County is one of such places where relief food is currently handed out. The rains have largely failed for two consecutive seasons already, making it difficult to find enough fodder for cattle. A team from MetaMeta visited the area recently and spoke with the communities on the implications of and responses to the drought. In addition, a 30-km road stretch was assessed between Mwitika-Kyamatu and Masikalini to map the opportunities harvest water for livelihoods.

Fodder Production with Spate Irrigation and Road Run-Off

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Floods are a quintessential source of water to grow fodder for livestock. Diversion of floodwater is a high-return investment for pastoralists in arid and semi-arid areas, where water is available only for a short period of the year. This new Practical Note describes how floodwater from spates and roads can be actively managed to replenish soil moisture. Videos on the indigenous fodder grasses that can be used to create fodder banks along rivers and roads are found here and here.

Fish Sanctuaries

In this video, Dr. Paul Thompson (FHRC) explains the importance of fish sanctuaries for the fish to survive the dry season. Increased land pressure and longer dry-seasons make the targeted management and protection of small fish sanctuary areas by the community necessary. The Flood Hazard Research Centre Bangladesh works on livelihood improvement in the floodplains.

Participation of WUAs in Gash spate system management

Water Users Associations were introduced to Gash Delta’s Agricultural Scheme in 2004. Partners from the University of Gezira in Sudan have now published an article to assess the participation and performance of these Associations in the Scheme’s management. While water users are fully involved in water distribution and the clearance of agricultural land, the research shows that gaps exist when it comes to provision of finance and seeds, and reporting of water breakages. The results will be helpful to guide and strengthen participatory spate system management.

Improvements in the Design of Flood Diversion Structures

Despite being ancient technologies, spate systems still suffer from unresolved technical design problems for flood diversion and distribution. In various spate irrigation countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Ethiopia, sophisticated diversion structures are introduced that solve problems associated with the frequent reconstruction and maintenance of intakes. However, these structures are often too costly and do not match the small-scale nature and institutional set-up of many traditional spate systems.

In an effort to find a balance between financial sustainability and technological adequacy, this Practical Note from partners at Mekelle University (Ethiopia) introduces a new design approach that optimizes the benefits from both traditional and modern spate systems, without affecting the existing traditional institutional set-up of the systems. The Note proposes hybrid diversion structures as a new way forward.

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