Professor Bancy Mati, 53, is a pioneer of a new method of growing rice that uses less water and increases yields. She talked to PHARES MUTEMBEI about her many achievements in water management
It has taken hard work and sacrifice to get to the level of professor. It has been tough balancing family demands and my career, which involves conducting research and authoring many scientific papers and books.
Water management is my profession, my problem and my passion. All life forms require water hence the adage; ‘water is life’. However, water is often a problem.
The rains are never enough or reliable to allow crops to grow and yield adequately. It is this kind of water problems that I seek to find solutions for, and hopefully, influence some action.
The main cause of water scarcity in Kenya is not the lack of water or rain, but the failure to store and properly manage available rainfall and water resources. Seeking this knowledge, writing about it, disseminating it and implementing projects has taken me on a career path full of surprises, frustrations and sometimes rewards.
I have spent many years researching, gathering knowledge, travelling, writing, training and advocating for water management. As a researcher, I have gathered an inventory of technologies and practices on water management.
I have over 100 publications in refereed journals, books, book chapters, training manuals, conference papers, workshop reports, research reports, policy documents and technical presentations at international conferences.
In 2008, I published a booklet entitled 100 ways to manage water for smallholder agriculture in Eastern and Southern Africa. This book is available on the Internet and has been widely quoted. I have just completed a set of ten training manuals, which cover aspects of water management such as rainwater harvesting, water supply, irrigation and drainage.
I have travelled to 43 countries, including 25 in Africa, in the quest for knowledge. I have also dabbled in film production. In 2008, I produced seven documentaries on farmer interventions in water management in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda and Tanzania.
In December last year, we established the first Water Research and Resource Centre (Warrec) in Kenya, based at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. I am the centre’s pioneer director. Warrec is poised to contribute to the Vision 2030 through science and technology for water sector growth.