Case Study 3: Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation in Kenya. Credit CIAT

Drip irrigation in Kenya. Credit CIAT

Kenya suffers from unreliable rainfall leading to drought conditions subsequently increasing household vulnerability to food insecurity, especially when alternative risk management or coping strategies are unavailable or ineffective. Until recently, Kenyan smallholders, who are mostly women, use hand-watering to cultivate vegetables for their families. The practice of hand-watering is tedious and inefficient especially where water is scarce.

To improve productivity, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) introduced drip irrigation technologies. Bucket drip kits help deliver water to crops effectively with far less effort than hand-watering and for a minimum cost compared to irrigation. Use of the drip kit is spreading rapidly in Kenya and the majority of drip users, 70- 80%, are women.[1] Drip kits do have some disadvantages but there are also many positive socioeconomic impacts. Farmers reported profits of Ksh4,000-10,000 (US$80-200) with a single bucket kit, depending on the type of vegetable and between Ksh20,000-30,000 (US$400-600) per season with the one-eighth of an acre kit.[2]

Mrs. Mutai[3] is 1 of 150 women who are members of a group that started using drip irrigation in Eldoret. Four months after installation, she sold enough vegetables to invest in more lines and make her garden bigger. Another member, Anne Butia, sold Ksh10,000 (US$200) worth of vegetables in 3 months from her garden. She used the extra income to pay for school fees and buy clothes for her family.

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