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DR DANIEL MUTEGI GITI: Harvest rain water and prepare for dry spells

The country is currently experiencing rainfall in most parts, which has brought much relief from the drought that was there before. It is important to note that Kenya has witnessed the extremes of drought and famine which is always followed by the destruction of land, property and infrastructure as a result of the rainfall that in some cases brings flooding and havoc every year in some places.
Residents of Mandera County displaced by flooding./FILE

There is need to cut off this cycle of drought being followed by the havoc caused by rainfall and flooding. Global warming and climate changes will continue to be felt in the country and the global community and as such, there is need to take cognizance of the fact that flooding, much rainfall on one side will always be followed by drought and famine and hence there is need to harness the favourable situation of abundant rainfall to counter the effects of drought and famine later in the cycle. 

One enduring lesson is from Joseph in the Bible, who upon interpreting Pharaohs was made in charge of food collection for the country. There were different Pharaohs in the Egyptian kingdom and Pharaohs means “Great House” exemplifying the great space and house where Pharaohs lived. 

In total there was about 170 Pharaohs who ruled Egypt and some were females like Pharaoh Nefertiti. The Pharaoh during Joseph times most likely was called Pharaoh Thutmose IV while the Pharaoh during Moses’s time was Pharaoh Ramses II because the name Moses means son of Ramses – hence Moses.

Upon interpreting the dream, Joseph was appointed the in-charge of food collection, so as to prepare for the famine that would follow the plenty, as found in Genesis Chapter 41. This has been philosophized as the “Joseph” effect, which provides that periods of success and plenty including abundant rainfall as we see in some parts of the country and our counties, will always be followed by periods of scarcity, flooding and other destruction. This includes in one’s life like in the current occupations or businesses, there is need to prepare for the worst when there is plenty and vice versa. 

We can be different this season going forward and reverse the trends of oscillations of drought and famine with the flooding, destruction and a lot of surface water runoffs. 

First, water available during the rainy seasons as the massive surface runoff should be stored for livestock and agricultural use in dry season. This should be done through construction of many dams and reservoirs either at the national, county and individual levels, which increases water access in the country. 

Secondly, food grown in rainy seasons should be properly handled or stored. There is need to map out and secure our food systems in times of plenty. Joseph made wise and strategic decisions on the need to compel Egyptians to surrender 20 per cent of their harvest to the government for storage (this is the source of the government taxation policies among others, that we entrust the State with our interests including food) – our food storage and retrieval processes should be improved to the best status. 

Thirdly, Joseph educated and sensitized Egyptians on the need to store up 20 per cent of their food – our farmers need constant education and sensitization on new methods of farming, crop handling and storage, including exposure to new technologies and practices. 

Fourthly, Kenyans needs to optimize and prioritize development of adequate agricultural supply chains that addresses the flow of information and products – acquisition of materials like seeds, their transformation into finished products and distribution to end users.

Factors of production, infrastructure like access roads, markets and pricing of products must put in place to incentivize farmers. There must be coordinated ways through which agricultural produce moves effectively to the areas it is needed. Let’s enact laws that allow for such mobility since availability of food and pasture, going forward, is a security issue which will be aggravated by climate change phenomenon. One county could be endowed with the unique and comparative advantage in the growing of potatoes and another one the growth of green grams, there should be effective infrastructure and logistics to move these foodstuffs and crops across counties and in the Nation so that we are all interconnected and have access to food supply.  

Fifth, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number six is dedicated to water “Clean water and sanitation for all”, through ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Sixth, the world is in the process of implementing the international decade of action for “water for sustainable development” clarion in which stakeholders have agreed on the need to respond more quickly and progressively on water needs and access for all, energizing existing water programmes and projects and inspiring action to achieve the UN SDG Agenda 2030. This corresponds to our own Kenya Vision 2030 development aspirations, through which advanced water reforms have been undertaken in the country.

Seventh, water is a critical resource internationally, regionally, and nationally for socio-economic development. Locally, 59 per cent of Kenyans have access to safe and clean drinking water, which means 41 percent of Kenyans don’t have access to such water, and one in every three schools do not have access to such water. This affects development process and progress on the achievement of UN SDGs and also Kenya's Vision 2030. 


Dr. Mutegi Giti is Urban Management, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and Environment Specialist.

Email: Twitter:@DanielGiti.

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