In most cases, refugees are construed as needy and desperate and thus largely helpless. However, a farmers group in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County- known as ‘Umoja ni Nguvu’ (Unity is strength) – has defied this notion thanks to the introduction of modern farming technology.
Through this new innovation, farmers are provided with skills to draw water from shallow wells to irrigate small-scale vegetable gardens using solar pumps and drip irrigation system.
The group is benefitting from this technology through the support of AAH Kenya, in a livelihood programme. The support is through the Kakuma Refugee Assistance Programme (KRAP) aimed at promotion of self-reliance and improved livelihood among the refugee community. Through access to agriculture and business development, AAH Kenya established two operational model farms used as demonstration gardens for farmers using modern irrigation and improved crop production methods.
As a result, farmers are able to save over 70 per cent of labour costs for irrigation and watering of vegetable gardens which has proved valuable as opposed to manual hand pump irrigation method currently being used by farmers across the camp. Furthermore, through drip irrigation, water is also conserved, which is beneficial due to the low water levels in the area.
Nabigira Kandida, a Burundian and a mother of six children is happy; being a member of ‘Umoja ni nguvu’ and says their farming has greatly improved. The group’s farm has a range of vegetable that include kales, okra, tomatoes and water melons that were planted late August 2015. Some of the kales and okra are at the initial harvesting stage.
“We are able to get fresh vegetables for our consumption to supplement dry food rations provided by the World Food Programme (WFP). Part of the crop harvests are also sold to generate income for the purchase of additional seed and pesticides,” remarks Nabigira, 30.
The group keeps farm records on all its farm activities that include purchases, crop harvests and income.