As a measure to improve food security in the arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya, the World Food Programme has been using food and cash transfers to encourage the construction or rehabilitation of shared infrastructure or assets. These are structures that increase the availability of water or pasture, helping families put food on the table.
With many of these families now producing enough to feed themselves, WFP is gradually withdrawing food and cash incentives, and instead intensifying its technical support for the families and communities to ensure that they and the assets they’ve created continue to flourish.
In Turkana County, north western Kenya, WFP Representative and Country Director Annalisa Conte has formally launched the transition process by handing over two asset-creation projects to the local communities.
Members of Etic Women Group in Nadapal are now fully managing their own irrigation scheme, grain stores and a small-scale grain mill. Further south, in Katilu, a group of 250 families running the Kaloyapar fruit orchard have, in a colourful ceremony, acknowledged the changing nature of the relationship with WFP, whereby they will continue to build their assets without requiring food rations.
Investing in productive assets
These two projects are just some of the many activities WFP has supported in the arid and semi-arid areas over the past years in an effort to increase the resilience of families living areas prone to natural shocks, such as droughts.
Communities work to build robust and well-placed assets that boost their chances of withstanding future shocks. They identify, plan, implement, and maintain the assets themselves.
Asset creation projects include: harvesting runoff water; building or rehabilitating shallow wells, water pans, and dams; constructing or repairing small irrigation schemes; erecting terraces to prevent soil erosion; repairing feeder roads; planting trees, establishing and managing tree nurseries and fruit orchards; getting rid of parasitic plants; and training communities to better manage these assets.
Different type of assistance
WFP Country Director acknowledged that the Etic and Kaloyapar groups have made “enormous progress” but are not yet fully food secure.
“They still need support, particularly from the Government, but they have the potential to become fully food secure despite the harsh climate. We need to continue to work with them,” said Annalisa Conte.
Many of the groups working on irrigation schemes in Turkana County still require technical support to line canals with concrete. Earthen canals lose water through seepage and often collapse, interrupting the water supply and risking crop losses.
The families farming the Kaloyapar orchard are getting farm extension services from the county.
Transitioning asset creation
In the initial phase, WFP is transitioning close to 90,000 people working in various asset creation projects, especially in the marginal agricultural areas of Kenya’s semi-arid lands. These are families that have attained a level of production that can sustain their food needs, and no longer need assistance to fill their food basket.
WFP is working with partners to help move these farmers up a pathway to self-sufficiency and commercialization. The USAID-led Partnership for Resilience and Economic Growth (PREG) in the arid counties and a partnership between the Rome-based UN food security agencies (FAO, IFAD and WFP) in the marginal agricultural areas are both working to this end.
WFP is currently working with about 900 communities in 13 arid and semi-arid counties, benefitting more than 800,000 people with productive assets.
WFP’s asset creation projects in Kenya are supported by Australia, Canada, European Commission, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, Switzerland, UN CERF, and the United States.
Source: World Food Programme