When one hears about Bamba location in Ganze, Kilifi County, a picture of hungry people, drought and families weighed down by all manner of troubles is probably what comes to the mind.
While this cannot be disputed, a story of hope is developing in a village. An irrigation project started in Gwaseni village promises to change the lives of many. The project is the first of its kind in the region. A pan built by a volunteer to conserve rain water is making villagers realise their dream.
Gwaseni/Bumbi irrigation project chairman Robert Mkutano told Seeds of Gold that villagers can now comfortably grow vegetables, sugarcane, bananas and tomatoes.
For the last three years, locals have been taking their produce to Bamba market. The project is on an 18-acre piece donated by the community.
“We also get water from River Gwaseni. The elders gave nine acres on the other side of the river and another nine on the side near the water pan,” Mkutano said.
The villagers still faced many challenges after the water pan was constructed.
“Gushing waters destroyed a section of the pan. We are still experiencing that problem as the capacity of the dam is small,” he said.
“We ask well-wishers to repair the damaged section of the pan so that we can increase the acreage under agriculture.”
The project has 250 members and is managed by three community-based organisations.
“One of the groups is Gwaseni Mazingira. It plants vegetables and trees,” he said.
Mkutano himself grows bananas and sugarcane. James Kahindi, a farmer, says the money he gets helps him meet the needs of his family. “One can make up to Sh1,000 a day,” he said.
Mkutano says shortage of irrigation equipment is the other problem the group faces. “Agricultural field officers do not visit this area to offer advice on how we can make improvements,” he said.
Area Ward Representative Christopher Mwambire said the project is a beacon of hope for the villagers. He added that he and other officials have mobilised farmers to be trained on various skills.
“The Kilifi devolved government has set aside Sh5 million to improve farming, especially for vegetables,” Mwambire said. “We are also planning to install solar water pumps and repair the broken spillway.”
Other crops in the scheme are cow peas, maize, sorghum, green grams, tomatoes, spinach and an array of vegetables.
“From Uhai Marikano irrigation scheme (75 acres) in Jilore, Malindi to Mdachi irrigation scheme (70 acres) in Ganze, the county government has seen more than 2,000 acres being put under irrigation,” Kilifi devolved unit says in its report titled A Gem by the Indian Ocean.