The young man is ecstatic after a bumper harvest of vegetables and believes there are prospects for a better one. It is proof that refugees can successfully farm, and as a result, better their lives.
Paul Kiza is among of 300 farmers being trained on drip irrigation in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County. The farmers are engaged in farming of more than ten types of vegetables.
The 25-year-old man is a member of Umoja ni Nguvu, Utengano ni Udhaifu group that has planted traditional vegetables such as terere (amaranth) and eggplant. The group has 27 members.
Kiza, 25, says in May they sold vegetables and made Ksh40, 000 (about US$404) profit. These include amaranth, cow peas and cassava leaves and okra. He comes from North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has lived in Kakuma Refugee Camp for eight years.
The father of two says there is a ready market for vegetables, adding that irrigation will ensure they have sufficient water. “In the past our crops would dry due to inadequate rainfall, but we cannot plant all year-round.”
Peter Cheptumo, a project officer with AAH Kenya, says the new technology is aimed at improving production for the farmers. The setup has a solar pump that is used to propel water from a shallow well; then it flows through gravity to the farms that are owned by groups.
“We are supporting the refugees to farm in groups in order to benefit from economies of scale. It is about transforming their farming into an agri-business enterprise,” Cheptumo says.
He adds that the project is working with 17 groups that have a total of 300 farmers. The farming enterprise is part of Kakuma Refugee Assistance Programme (KRAP). The initiative, undertaken by AAH Kenya and funded by UNHCR, aims to enhance self-reliance and sustainable livelihoods of 4,080 refugees in Kakuma Camp, Turkana County.
This is through the development of such models that will address resilience, safety net and consumption; skills enhancement, employment opportunities and enterprise development.