This is my first working day in Kenya and I’ve come to Mwingi in East Kenya to talk to the local ActionAid International team about the plan for the next few days. My brief is clear – I am making a film about the projects AAI Kenya are running to mitigate against the impacts of climate change.
In the case of this part of Kenya, climate change means more frequent and more severe failures of the seasonal rains. When the rains do come they come in explosive blasts that scour away at the soil and any crops that have managed to hold on through the droughts. For the people of the arid and semi arid lands of North and East Kenya that means more frequent and severe shortages of food - and all the problems that spiral from there.
For the past 3 years, AAIK has been implementing a scheme backed by the World Food Programme. Instead of simply providing food to those in need, households accepted into the Food For Assets or Cash For Assets scheme are given rations of food or the cash equivalent in exchange for work. The work is designed to help the participants improve their farming potential. AAIK organise them into groups to build water harvesting systems, construct terracing to prevent soil erosion, plant fruit trees and other crops that are better suited to the arid conditions than the wide-spread maize.
I've come to see how effective this is.