By Ejidiah Wangui
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Under the
scorching sun in Kenya’s Turkana located about 700 km from
Nairobi, a group of women have slowly been leading a green
revolution amid a biting drought that has affected both animals
The 10 women are determined to change
the region’s hunger narrative that has been told for decades on
Even as the county, which is said to be hard hit by ongoing
drought, continues to rely on food donations for survival, the
women have defied all the prevailing conditions to grow
vegetables and fruits.
Pauline Lemlemichoi, women’s group chairperson said the
journey traces back 20 years ago when they thought of
experimenting with farming.
They thought they would fail as soon as they started as the
region is generally dry in a good part of the year. They were
wrong, since their experiment has now been their source of
livelihood since then.
"It is amazing how this whole idea turned out.
"We now know for this as we supply vegetables, fruits and
beans to most hotels and restaurants in Lodwar," said
With the proceeds, the women have been able to sustain their
Most members are widows who did not have sources of income
when their husbands died.
Their farm, known as Aragae is located Namorkinonok village,
barely five kilometers away from Lodwar.
The farm’s proximity to the town which happens to be the
county’s economic hub means there is a ready market for their
The vegetables they grow include collard greens, African
night shade as well as cowpeas.
Under the scorching sun whose effects have spread across many
homes in the region, you can not miss Aragae farm from a
Apart from vegetables, they also grow butternuts and pawpaw.
The women do not rely on rainfall to farm, they installed a
drip irrigation system which Lemlemichoi credits to their
The water that keeps Aragae farm green and productive is
sourced from a borehole in the farm and to water the crops, they
have installed a solar-powered pump which also lowers the cost
of operation since the sun is plenty.
"We were weaving handbags initially but we opted to venture
into farming after we realized as much as we needed money, we
also needed food to feed our children.
"The soils here are fertile and really good for farming, the
only problem is water," said Lemlemichoi.
However, every time the country goes through a drought like
now, their production is affected significantly, which means
their income also goes down.
They also recently ventured into growing coriander and
Rebecca Lokilai, one of the farmers, said thanks to the
venture, she has been able to feed her family and conquer
malnutrition in her family which she had been unable to deal
The women’s technical advisor Lucia Lebasha, an agronomist
working for Caritas Kenya, the development and humanitarian arm
of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops lauded the women for
venturing into vegetable farming saying from the farm, they had
been able to feed their families and also meet other personal
According to Lebasha, Turkana soil has an immense potential
for crop production but there is need to educate farmers on the
gains that come with crop farming as the area is focused on
"With the agronomic support from both the county government,
Turkana can produce more than enough food to feed its people,"
She urged charities based in Turkana County to gradually move
away from distribution of relief food and start engaging in food
production through investing in technology-based farming.
Kenya experienced below-average short rains in 2018 that
increased the food insecure population from 655,800 in the month
of August to 1.2 million currently, with the 12 most affected
counties having a total of 865,300 food insecure people.
Notably, the Kenyan government has provided assistance for
drought mitigation during this dry season.
Turkana County has in the past financial years been among the
top three counties with hefty budget allocation.
The region, owing to its commercially viable oil and water
underground, is capable of sustaining Kenya for 60 years but
every time the country experiences a drought, it usually suffers
the worst impacts.