Kenya: Farmers embrace conservation agriculture to protect River Malewa
Better land management can foster water filtration, reliable downstream flows and further help reduce the amount of silt and nutrient load that can make their way into the rivers and aquifers that feed Lake Naivasha.
Unfortunately, unsustainable farming practices upstream, intrusion on river banks , unrestrained water extraction and deforestation in the basin, led to impaired downstream water quality and flows in the basin. These negatively impacted on the community’s livelihoods; Margaret Mundia a farmer in the Upper Turasha confirms that, few years ago, her land was unproductive, that the fertile top soil would wash into the river when it rained.
“Today I am a champion of PES (Payment for Ecological Services) adoption in my village because of the benefits I have gained from the scheme. With the income I generate from farming, I have built a permanent house, installed solar panels, bought a television set and most importantly seen my children through college”, says Margaret Mundia.
WWF-Kenya’s intervention to address this problem includes assisting upstream farmers like Margaret to adopt conservation agriculture to manage erosion and negotiate with downstream businesses that equally rely on water from Malewa River to contribute resources to help support these farmers through the Payment for Ecological Services (PES).
Today more that 3000 smallholder farmers, covering a total area of approximately 2238 ha in the upper catchment are empowered to embrace conservation agriculture thus reducing soil loss and sediment loads into the waterways. These initiatives have further improved on farm production and livelihoods.
Margaret asserts that since she joined the scheme in 2011 her farm outputs have significantly increased.
From the voucher she received from PES buyers, Margaret opted to buy vegetable seeds, which she hopes to sell upon maturity.