In Arid Lands, New Crops and New Skills Bloom

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Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Tsavo Trust Community Permaculture Officer Penninah Wambua (left) training members of the Kamungi Conservancy on permaculture practices including sack planting and mulching.
Mophat Peter/Tsavo Trust

The Tsavo Conservation Area, bordering the Tsavo East, Tsavo West, and Chyulu Hills National Parks, is arid and lacks life-sustaining resources.  Communities face many challenges including poverty, water shortages, limited healthcare access, human wildlife conflict, unemployment, and food insecurity. The tough landscape is the basis of many rural livelihoods and provides habitat to a wide range of wildlife. African elephants are well-adapted to survival in this dry bushland.

The Tsavo Conservative Area acts as a buffer zone between the formal parks and more densely populated areas. This provides an important migratory space for wildlife. In the absence of coordinated land management and settlement planning processes, rapid population growth is causing an increase in human-wildlife conflict incidents and resource-based conflicts between communities. 

Community members of Kamungi Conservancy, which is located next to Tsavo West National Park, experience these challenges daily. USAID, the Department of Interior-International Technical Assistance Program and Tsavo Trust are implementing a pilot permaculture site within this conservancy to address food insecurity and reduce  human-wildlife conflict. Twenty-one community members were trained on permaculture practices over a 10-day period. The project has improved the capacity and knowledge of local communities to farm crops in an affordable manner using only 20 liters of water per day. 

Members of Kamungi are using natural waste for composting, diversifying crops, and improving water preservation in this extremely arid landscape. After nine months of diligent work, community members are beginning to scale these methods on their own farmlands.  

Since its completion, this site has provided basic and subsistence food to at least 1,200 members of Kamungi Conservancy. The members of Kamungi Conservancy recently completed advanced training on permaculture. Despite difficult conditions, the conservancy members are persisting and seeing a harvest of their efforts. The interventions are working not only for the participants, but are also scalable to other arid regions and communities hard hit by droughts.

Last updated: September 13, 2022

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