23rd – 25thJuly 2019 at Kenyatta University Conference Center, Nairobi, Kenya
More than 80% of Kenya is arid and semi-arid land (ASAL) where access to water is a sensitive issue, with a high competition for this natural resource. Large-scale deforestation over the last 40 years has stripped away the natural ecosystem services in these areas, and increasing climate variability and changing socio-economic conditions are exacerbating the dire situation. A lack of water points for animals often forces the local pastoralists to reduce their mobility and use the water resources of the sedentary populations, thereby generating conflict among ethnic groups. Rainfall deficits can induce rain-fed crop losses, posing a threat to food security through reduced harvest and increased food prices. Water security in Kenya’s ASALs presents a sustainable development challenge.
In the ASALs, water shortage and stress are still the norm. The problem lies in weak water resource management resulting from, among other things, lack of management tools and apparatus. Good water resource management require a multidisciplinary research approach in which both human and environmental dynamics are studied, and modelled. While the need for adequate methods is high, the financial means for obtaining them are limited. Trainings on the use of open source programming languages such as Python, suitable to increase the understanding of sustainable water resource management in the face of dry conditions, are absent. Skills in using such programming language would allow for modelling the local specific water challenge and be a fruitful tool for decision making.
The training organized by IVM Amsterdam and SEKU Kitui, organized in the course of the ASALI (A Sustainable Approach to Livelihood Improvement) project, therefore was aimed in contributing towards the water resource management for its efficient and effective development when needed. The resources required to achieve this include financial resources, inventory, human skills, information technology (IT) and natural resources. The undertaking was consistent with the national aspirations to solve water disputes between communities, and focused on the planning and management of water and related infrastructure.
The training was crafted to respond to this call to:
- promote sustainable management and conservation of ecosystems for continued availability, and reliable supply of quality water;
- improve coherence between water and other livelihoods related policies and plans;
- contribute to the achievement of equal access to water for all, prioritize the most vulnerable and marginalized of all ages, and empower women and youth;
- back up the efforts to improve the efficiency and diversity of water use and productivity of agricultural systems;
- facilitate risk management and increase resilience to water variability;
- develop and share knowledge, technologies and tools related to water;
- foster inclusive and collective collaboration at local, national and international governance levels on water for sustainable growth;
- promote the full and meaningful implementation of localized, national and, international human rights obligations and instruments as they relate to water;
- restore natural resource base as productive and social assets through integrated watershed management, strengthened water governance building on existing customary arrangements where possible, and better water retention.
- improve agricultural water managementby adapting cropping patterns to seasonal water quality, promoting water in¬filtration in soil for successful rain-fed crop production, irrigation and drainage to secure crops where rain-fed production would fail.
- optimize water management for value-addition activities such as promoting water-eff¬cient processing techniques, water treatment and re-use, and also control post-harvest losses, in order not to waste the water used in production.