Climate change is a well-established reality in Kenya, with evidence continuing to mount in recent years. Over 70 per cent of natural disasters are related to extreme weather and climate: recurrent droughts, floods, mudslides, crop failure, loss of livestock, and unpredictable erratic rainfall patterns.
Vast areas of farmlands in Kenya have been degraded and no longer produce adequate, regular crops and pasture for livestock. However, a majority of Kenyans are subsistence farmers, who rely on this degraded resource for their livelihoods. This means poverty and recurrent fragmentation, with land subdivided into units that are neither viable nor economical, unable to support meaningful agriculture and natural resource management.
The result: vicious poverty cycles and environmental degradation.
Without firm action, there will be dire need for humanitarian and development interventions in future. It is imperative to help communities adapt to climate change. It is also necessary to help them participate in abating that climate change.
So, with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Government of Australia, World Vision Kenya (WVK) is undertaking a project dubbed, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). It is aimed at improving food security for climate resilience and carbon sequestration with smallholder farmers in Kenya. FMNR is a rapid, low cost, easily replicable approach to restoring deforested and degraded lands through tree stumps, roots and self-sown seeds.
The FMNR pilot project is active in Nakuru and Baringo counties, areas characterised by unpredictable weather conditions leading to long periods of drought and famine. More than 7,700 farmers have adopted the project to help with recurrent drought situations. They are also reaping other benefits, such as increased firewood, land productivity and household income. Approximately 1,000 hectares of degraded farmlands have been restored with trees – which act as carbon sinks.
Farmers explain the impact:
‘‘I did not know this was really easy. After receiving training from World Vision, I embarked on practicing FMNR on an unproductive section of my farm. I fenced it off and to my amazement, trees and grass started growing. I harvest grass for my livestock and have managed to sell a surplus of 50 bags of grass, worth Kenya shillings12,500 (145 US Dollars). Milk production increased from 3 to 13 liters per day. I used the proceeds from sale of grass and milk to buy books, uniforms, and paid school fees for my children. My wife and children now have enough time for other economic activities, such as kitchen gardening, attending social functions, playing and concentrating on school work as they do not have to graze livestock and fetch firewood – now available within the homestead!’’
Mr Jonathan Lagat – FMNR farmer
The FMNR concept is gaining prominence in the region, as it received the 2013 Land for Life Award by United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), was ratified by Africa Union during the Second Africa Dry land week in August 2014, and adopted during a UNEP workshop dubbed, “Enhancing the Horn of Africa Responsive Capacity to Climate Change Impacts Workshop”, for presentation to the Africa Ministers of Environment.
Up-scaling of FMNR as an ecosystem approach has great potential, but the following ideas are key:
FMNR has proven to be a model that build household resilience, carbon sequestration, as well as contribute to Paris Climate Agreement of restoring 350 million hectares of devastated forest areas by 2030.
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