So near, yet so far

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 15:52

Today I saw a shocking sight. After endless dry river beds, I was shown the Tana River. It runs from Mount Kenya in the centre of Kenya, right through the Mwinge district and out to the Indian Ocean. And it’s enormous – a sleek, chocolate river of possibility. And yet it’s barely being used. Only one farm on its banks is actually pumping water but the results are astonishing.

Compared to the baked empty fields I’ve seen so far, this farm was a lush garden of Eden.

There are still problems hiding in the greenery. Problems of soil erosion, over use of industrial fertiliser and the farmer admitted his yields had dropped over the last few years. But with good management it shows that this semi-arid land can be transformed. And Philip Kilonzo, the AAI Kenya’s co-ordinator for food security explained to me that it could be done sustainably, without the need for costly fuel pumps. There are dams existing and planned, as well as rapids on the river which could provide the energy needed to pump water to other farms. There are possibilities here that are yet to be tapped.