The construction of a water retention landscape combined with training was a project that attracted a Permafund micro-grant to Kitale, Kenya in 2017.
Through Permafund’s grant of AU $2,000, the Organic Technology Extension and Promotion of Initiative Centre (OTEPIC) trained members of their community in water management by excavating a system of ponds & swales using hand tools and planting out the surrounding zones.
As background, OTEPIC is a community based organisation born out of passion for sharing knowledge and innovative approaches to food security, water harvesting, energy saving and community building. OTEPIC assists women and youth groups in particular, in the Trans-Nzoia district of north-western Kenya and its surrounding areas.
The Centre provided community training throughout the project and many people attended. As climate change undermines the stability and resilience of food production systems in their region, the water retention landscape project has engaged people in learning improved land management practices.
The first training workshop was done in the Amani garden with 80 participants. 102 people attended the second workshop in the Biddi garden with 26 people from the Sabwani community attending the third workshop. People were so happy to take part in the workshop demonstrations.
The project was multi-faceted, firstly involving excavating a series of ponds and swales by hand in tracts of low land, which in the wet season was usually moist, marshy or swamp.
The community learnt how to design and excavate catchments to capture water in the landscape where it falls as rain, helping to restore the natural water cycle.
The new water retention landscape has helped slow the movement of water, spreading it so it sinks in, recharging the aquifer system and providing water for irrigation in the dry season.
Deep and shallow ponds have created different temperature zones providing healthy thermodynamics in the water. Shaded shore areas support this regenerated system providing a diversity of habitats for aquatic organisms and wild species.
Leguminous trees planted around the water retention landscape are helping reduce erosion and will fix nitrogen in the soil to enhance soil fertility for growing bananas, sweet potatoes, kales, beans and various vegetables. Fruit and nut trees will grow well on the banks of the ponds. The planting of native forest corridors will offer a protected path for wild animals to reach the lakes and ponds.
The Permafund team remains in contact with the OTEPIC organisation with mentoring and monitoring.
For more information email the Permafund team [email protected]