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Sh1.5m partnership launched to boost Turkana food security

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY ADOW MOHAMED

THE US African Development Foundation in conjunction with the Kenya Commercial Bank Foundation have launched a food sustainability initiative aimed at alleviating food shortage in Turkana county.

The initiative involves the setting up of drip irrigation of five acres of land at a cost of 1.5 million. The money is donated by the KCB Foundation.

Speaking during the  signing of the partnership agreement in Nairobi yesterday, the USADF's regional representative in Kenya Timothy Nzioka said the initiative is set to help reduce food insecurity and perennial starvation in the region while at the same time promoting alternative income generating activities for the local communities of the impoverished Northern Kenya region.

"We must think of a sustainable operation that can help the people of Turkana from the perennial drought," he said. The initiative is in line with the Comprehensive Africa Development Programme whose goal is to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty in the continent through agriculture.

The KCB Foundation chairperson Catherine Kola said the county is set to to record renewal of land under cultivation and the provision of supplementary nutritive food sources to feed its people.

"Turkana has the potential of growing enough food for local consumption and surplus for export to other areas. This is a great opportunity to promote agribusiness in the area to compliment the current reliance on livestock," Kola said.

Turkana has recently been identified as the "richest county in Kenya" following the discovery of oil and an aquifer. Kola however said, River Turkwel remains under-utilized despite its potential in supporting food sustainability in the county through irrigation. "Majority of the residents are too poor to spend their little income on capital intensive irrigation system to tap water from River Turkwel," she said.

The 1.5 million shillings by the foundation will specifically go towards the support of the Lokwaliwa youth group in Turkana to develop a fruit farm covering five acres of land along River Turkwel, aimed at enhancing food sustainability and security for the locals.

In 2011, Turkana was hit by "worst drought in 60 years" putting the lives of at least 3.75 Kenyans at risk. This has seen the launch of what was dubbed as 'Kenya for Kenyans" initiative by various corporate institutions with at least 1 billion contributed in cash and kind.