Kinna Market’s glory threatened as Natural Capital dwindles.

By Mohammed Wako Kosi – Isiolo.

No one expects to find a fresh produce stocked market in Isiolo County; here, people struggle with harsh dry climatic conditions and less rainfall. With recurring famine and drought , life is eked through thick and thin for this community.However, despite these challenges, a village in Kinna boasts of plenty of food supply around the year.At Kinna market, fresh vegetables , fruits and other farm produce litter the market, men and women are shouting on top of their voices to convince incoming customers about their good and affordable prices.All is clearly written on their faces ; life is good !

Unlike other markets which depend on food from other towns, Kinna market is believed to sustain its people even in the harsh weather climate conditions known to be a havoc to the people of Isiolo County.
Located in South of Isiolo County,Kinna is a market center , densely populated and mainly inhabited by the pastoralists community of Borana. It boasts as the largest center of subsistence farming in Isiolo South constituency dating back when its foundation stone was laid by the late Haji Wako Wario. Farming has taken root here, all crops do well, farmers plant and harvest maize, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, kales, cabbages, onions, carrots, mangoes, paw paws and bananas .

pin media 340

“We depend on our farms for most of our food security needs, we produce maize, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, kales, cabbages, onions, carrots, mangoes, pawpaw, bananas among others.we only go to shops at the market for tea leaves, sugar, spices, and salt .” Says Mr. Jaldesa Boru a farmer in kinna .
These has been enabled by vital forests found on the foot of Nyambene hills that have continued to water the farms, the once permanent water streams and springs that were the lifeline of the community. The natural springs that run and in Kinna and its environs are Bisanadi, and Chaffessa . The forests which used to act as home to wildlife and various endangered species of indigenous trees are being threatened.

These area which happened to be the border line of Isiolo County and Meru County was a battle ground last year, a conflict which ostensibly for some, was sparked off by the killing of one young man who was said to be a conservationist for some, but to others it was a commercial charcoal burning curtail at its war, whatever the case the environment has suffered, other threats ranging from extensive clearing of forest cover to pave way for irrigation farming activities and unregulated felling of trees for timber and timber products.

Indigenous pastoral people are eek a tough life due to natural resource degradation and climate change impacts. Communal responsibility eroded long time ago , cultural values attached to biodiversity resources is diminishing too. The situation is further aggravated by change in economic lifestyle and continued decay of traditional institutions that govern resource use and management.
Kinna is endowed with various natural resources with potential for development and sustenance of pastoral livelihoods besides pastoralism. However pastoralism is yet to be viewed as a way of sustainable livelihood, due to unfavorable policies that has disempowered and delinked the community from decisions that concern their land usage and the resource therein.

Like every growing center ,Kinna has its fair share of jobless youths, who have got basic education and on the alleys, unable to join college due to poverty that run deep because most of this pastoralists claim to have lost livestock to drought, while others blame it on the government for the massacre and atrocities meted during the politics of secession of northern frontier districts.
“We lost our livestock to drought, while for most of us our livestock were taken away by the government during the shifta war,(a conflict in which the ethnic Somalis in the Nothern kenya -(1963–1967) conflict in which ethnic Somalis in the Northern Frontier District (NFD) of Kenya attempted to join with their fellow Somalis in Greater Somali. The Kenyan government named the conflict “shifta”, after the Somali word for “bandit”, as part of a propaganda effort.“we came back to Kinna to farm, after we were released from DABA(concentration camp at Garbatula where they were held for 14 months).” ; Sora Molu, a farmer .

Despite all these challenges , jobless youth have sprung up to form a community based initiative to conserve the environment. Kinna Integrated Community Based Initiative – KICBI, saw the urge to protect, to conserve the water catchment areas and its ecosystem which is very important to them as a community. The group started contributing money to buy seedlings and paper bags to plant trees and established a nursery at a plot offered by one member, where they planted 10000 seedlings. Their effort immediately attracted the attention of an NGO called FH (food for the hungry), who offered to buy 5000 trees at Kshs.20 each and contracted them to plant in the schools within Kinna and Kulamawe a neighbouring center. Now that they are in business the group approached then county council of Isiolo for land, and they were given 5 acres plot at the water catchment in Kinna where they planted over 3000 trees. FH volunteered to fence the plot for them, the group grew in strength and started planting tomatoes after having bought a small generator from the proceeds, to pump water from the source to water the trees and irrigate the tomatoes.

These impressed world vision another NGO operating in the area and hence bought them a green house where they planted tomatoes and harvested a bumper harvest; they sold the produce at Kinna market and realized profit considering the input.
“We planted trees at schools in Kinna and Kulamawe, over 5500, we received good money out of it, we got 5 acres land from county council, FH helped us to fence the land, and luckily world vision toured our project at the water catchment and immediately offered to buy us green house and we did very well.” Muslima Godana ,vice chair lady to the group confirmed.
Similarly, other doors were opened for these young men and women who thought of conservation as an idea to kill boredom, pastime and the way to evade drugs, when world vision impressed by their role in the community, interviewed them and other community based organization within the area and they won the mantle to become the bridge between the community and world vision on sponsorship for children project, that is undertaken by the organization in the area. The young men and women are acting as community development facilitators and they cover even other neighbouring centres.

They divided themselves into two groups, to run both projects parallel to each other. The green house project was hampered by wildlife after elephants broke the fence and destroyed it, recently on its way to watering point at the water catchment and their generator broke down. The Kenya wildlife service promised to reconstruct the fence but they have not done that yet according to the vice-chair lady.
“We made two teams to operate with world vision and the other team to continue watering of trees at the water catchment and our small farm, though our green house project has been hampered, after elephant broke the fence and destroyed our water reservoir, generator broke down and we are watering the trees using water fetched on our backs, Kenya wildlife service have promised to repair the fence but they have not done it yet.” Muslima Godana pointed out.

They have complained to the Kenya wildlife service previously but it is hard for them to give them a reminder because the group members claim they are not accessible. Kenya wildlife Service Meru National Park officials were not accessible for comment. These young and vibrant pastoralists support from the community and conservationists, to help them achieve the goal of restoring the endowed natural capital of Kinna.

Kenya needs a climate change policy to fight climate change effects.

By Mary Mwendwa.

From November 11th – 22nd 2013 , world leaders in business, industry, and NGOs will join representatives from at least 200 countries to convene in Warsaw, Poland, for the nineteenth annual Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)— an international environmental treaty established in 1994 to address the challenges of a warming planet.
During this forum, 195 countries which have ratified and are partners to the convention through the Kyoto protocol, that commits them by setting internationally binding agreements. Kyoto protocol was adopted in Kyoto Japan, in 1997 and came into force in 2005.
pin media 198
Kenya is among African states that continue to experience devastating effects of harsh weather conditions. Frequent drought, famine and floods are some of the predicaments majority of Kenyans live with. Through the Ministry of Water Mineral and Natural resources, the government of Kenya is working on ways which would help people build resilience on climate change effects. Through the blue print documents , climate change response strategy and climate change action plan, a climate change policy was drafted and tabled in parliament in 2012, sadly the former president, Mwai kibaki did not assent to it claiming there were no enough consultations about the bill. Plans are underway to push for the same bill to be tabled in parliament again.

According to Alexander Alusa, Climate Change policy Adviser, Ministry of Environment Water and Natural Resources( MEWNR): ”Climate change has implications for development , these generates extreme events which affect infrastructure, agriculture , environment ecosystems and everybody else. All these have a bearing on how the government can invest their money or which compromises the advancement in development we have gone through under the Millennium development goals.” He refers to the Climate change strategy and action plan, which can only be implemented with a climate change policy in place.
One of the key areas the policy addresses, adaptation and mitigation of harsh climatic conditions that people face.’’Empasis needs to be placed on Kenyan government and its partnership with Kenyans, for climate change issues to be addressed , private sector, civil society and people, because they all have a role to play in climate change issues “. He says.

Sifu Sitati,a father of five in his mid thirties, a member of Embakasi Handicapped Empowerment Group in Nairobi :’’We know climate change is here with us, we cannot just sit and cry over the predicaments, as a group of handicapped people, we are making energy saving charcoal which we use for our cooking and also we recycle plastic bags which are a total mess to our environment. We also encourage home gardens here in the slum, as you know we lack space for farming here in the slums, we plant vegetables in small sacks and I believe this help a lot in absorbing carbon dioxide in the air.”

Most of the slums in major cities are adversely affected by floods during the heavy rains, which leave many homeless. Susy Wandera, a climate change expert on community engagement in adaptation activities, notes how adaptation is something that is very important for Kenya, without proper legislation it may not be achieved. “Sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand that, the elements that have been created with green house emissions, will remain with us forever , hence reason for people to look for ways to cope.Pastoralist communities in Isiolo County , are an example of a population that is building resilience on climate change through agro-pastoralism because they suffer a lot when they lose livestock.”

Farming redeems Isiolo from harsh climate change Effects.

By Mary mwendwa.

It’s a windy, sunny and hot day , the different types of birds species chirping , cows , goats and a few camels roaming in the fields searching for the precious commodity, pastures and water. Road network here is not very good, people use four wheel drives to navigate through the tough terrains, motorbikes are also another form of transport for short distance travels. From far distance, I can spot a green carpet of vegetation.I ask whether an oasis exists in this region, but iam told they are vegetables on the banks of river Ewaso nyiro.

pin media 089

Rashid Guyo in a farm at Merti.(photo by mary mwendwa)

Diba Gilaba, a father of four, aged thirty four is one happy farmer. His five acre farm which borders the river is a safe haven for his family. Water melons, maize, vegetables and sunflower are just some of the crops he has planted.Marta location, in Merti , Isiolo county has been known for dryness and lack of enough food , many families depend on relief food as their own source of livelihood when drought and famine knocks at their doors.Diba is busy digging a trench in his farm that will allow easy flow of water to irrigate his crops.” I use water from the Ewaso Nyiro, this is the only wetland we have in this region, without this we are doomed”.He further add, “ I have ventured into farming because pastoralism is not very sustainable anymore, I had one hundred livestock and they were all swept during the last drought of 2011”.Similar sentiments are echoed by Dabaso Halkano, Korbesa location in Merti, he has ventured into farming through a self help group – Tulla Self Help Group.The group encourages agro-pastoralism to its members and other community members.” We were so used to livestock, but now we have diversified, we are farming and the fruits of farming are way better than livestock because we can harvest grain and keep for future use” Dabaso says with a smile.He takes me to his granary where there are several sacks of maize and beans.”Look this is my stock, I have prepared myself in case of any eventuality during drought, I don’t need relief food now, my family is happy” he concludes.
At Rupa farm, Manyatta father Village , things not different,Hassan Halaki owns a large farm with different types of crops here.One unique crop that captures my eye is tobacco.Tobacco is only grown in the highlands of Kenya where they enjoy good rainfall.The crops huge green wide leaves dot the farm.He tells me that he is capable of planting most of the food crops in his farm.He has just harvested water melons and I get lucky to get a taste of the sweet water melon from his farm.Hassan narrates to me how his life was very difficult when he used to have livestock alone.” Here we don’t get rains often, we can go for two to three years and this pose a huge challenge to our livestock who solely depend on water and pastures” he says.” Farming makes us feel comfortable and we supply our produce to Isiolo town, iam able to take my kids to school and feed the family without any problems.
Khadija jilo Shande from Bismilahi Self Help women group , from Komu location is among few ladies who have decided to beat the odds and venture into farming.She has an injured limb from an accident in the past , but this does not stop her from tending to her farm .” Iam a farmer here and I get a lot of food which I sell and some are for my family use, we can no longer keep suffering just because of livestock which die when drought comes” she laments.
Many people in the upper Eastern region where Isiolo County lies have resorted to farming to help them build resilience to climate change effects. According to Waso River Users Empowerment Platform chairman, Rashid Guyo, they work with communities and educate them on how to use the Ewaso River sustainably; they have helped many farmers in the region on the best practices of farming which can help them fight the changing climate conditions which give them problems. Through other partners like Kenya Red cross Society they have a project dubbed, “partners for resilience “ which looks into matters of resilience building among pastoralist communities.
Many wetlands in Kenya remain threatened , Ewaso nyiro River which originates from mt.Kenya and passes through northern Kenya is one wetland which people cannot afford to loose.Its just an oasis in the desert for Isiolo People.