Baringo irrigation farmers doomed by drought

Rivers feeding irrigation schemes have dried up for lack of rain

In Summary

• Rivers feeding irrigation schemes have dried up. 

• Residents beg for relief food 

Women and girls fetch water from a hand-dug well at Sintaan in the dried up bed of River Perekerra in Baringo South subcounty on Monday
UNFIT TO DRINK: Women and girls fetch water from a hand-dug well at Sintaan in the dried up bed of River Perekerra in Baringo South subcounty on Monday

More than 5,000 irrigation farmers in Baringo county have lost hope of getting a minimal — or any — harvest due to delayed rains and drought.

They said most rivers feeding their farms had long ago dried up after the rains stopped after July last year.

“By March every year, we had already ploughed and planted all our farms. But this year delayed rains have completely disrupted our calendar,” Marigat farmer Boniface Lesaris said.

The weatherman is predicting a dry hot Easter holiday. There may be no significant rains until next month.

“Most parts of the country are expected to remain mostly hot and dry,” acting head of the Meteorological Department Stella Aura said on Monday.

She said that for the first time in history the major Perkerra River, which supplies water to Perkerra Irrigation Scheme in Marigat, has dried up.

“We use to harvest about one million bags of maize at the 3,000 acre-irrigation scheme alone. Now we fear a complete crop failure due to drought and delayed rains," he said.

Other dry irrigation schemes in Baringo South subcounty are Eldume, Kamoskoi, Sukutek, Loboi, Kibingor, Sandai, Mosoro, Embosos, Nkutoto and Lendorok.

They are fed by the seasonal Molo, Endao and Arabal rivers, which have dried up.

The irrigation schemes also serve over 800 Internally Displaced Persons who fled bandit attacks. They are staying at Mukutani after being resettled in October last year.

They used to stay at Eldume IDP camp in Marigat where they after being attacked by suspected Pokot bandits in March 2017.

Resident Olesupen Leshaan said they are yet to plant crops, though the county and the national governments donated seeds and tractors in February.

“We used to grow and harvest by August but this time, even if the rain falls in May, it will be too late, the harvest will definitely be late," Leshaan said.

River Kerio has also dried up, halting activity on irrigated farms in Barwessa, Kuikui, Kinyach, Kolowa and Tirioko in Baringo North and Tiaty subcounties.

Relief food

Residents appealed to the government for a constant supply of relief food to feed their families throughout the dry spell until, hopefully, they can harvest something.

Last week, Baringo South MP Charles Kamuren called upon the government to fully fund irrigations schemes by donating equipment and inputs.

“This will go a long way to bring a lasting solution to alleviating hunger among my locals especially majority of those affected by insecurity,” Kamuren said.

But the government can't make it rain.,

In the meantime, he said his people are so hungry that they need relief food so they do not succumb to famine.