What we do: Rhoda, Anne & Ileen

Rhoda Odongo and Ileen Streefkerk, together with IVM colleague Tim Busker, are currently in Kenya for the Down2Earth project fieldwork, which will run for 2 months. We were joined by Anne van Loon in the first 2.5 weeks. We visited several stakeholders, mainly governmental institutions in agriculture, environment, climate and water sectors. Additionally, we were also able to visit some ongoing NGO projects in Isiolo county, Kenya. These were very insightful meetings.

For example, we learnt about the Water Resource User Associations (WRUAs). The WRUAs manage, support and supervise up and downstream water use in association with the Water Resources Authority. Upstream water users are a combination of small- & large-scale farmers who use the water mostly for irrigation purposes, while downstream water users are mostly pastoralists who use water for livestock. Often in times of drought conflicts happen, to prevent and reduce this, the WRUAs were created. They make sure that there is no illegal abstractions and manage water rationing along the different streams (i.e. allocate specific river sections to be used on specific days of the week by the communities)

We also met the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), key institution in the coordination and forecasting of drought events and response in the 23 ASAL areas. On a monthly basis they collect data from 30 households per sentinel site (3 or 4 sentinel sites located per county) to monitor the drought conditions and impact at grassroot level. This is a “goldmine” for our research. We were able to developed the start of a close collaboration, for example there will be follow up meetings with NDMA every 6 months to discuss our research progress and collaboration areas.

This week we are at the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook form (GHACOF) in Mombasa. This is an important climate outlook  for the March-May rainfall as most likely a fourth bad rainfall season will be predicted. This forecast is expected to lead to extreme food insecurity situations in the region. Let’s hope early warning will lead to early action..

In the upcoming weeks, IVM colleague Teun Schrieks will come to Kenya and we will follow up with the Down2Earth project partners within the region like ICPAC and University of Nairobi and revisit some of the governmental institutions.  We will also start on the preparation for the March Isiolo fieldwork. During this fieldwork,  we will work closely with the communities (Focus Group Discussions) to understand the impact of different types drought and decisions the communities make before, during and after these events. We will look at different drivers and barriers of drought adaption and how information and support plays a role in this.