Residents want Sh300 million irrigation scheme revived

A vandalised pipe at the Tot-Kolowa Irrigation Scheme on the border of Elgeyo and Baringo counties. [File, Standard]
Elgeyo Marakwet County residents have asked the government to revive an irrigation scheme to help alleviate hunger.

Tot-Kolowa Irrigation Scheme, on the border of Elgeyo and Baringo counties, was initiated by the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) but collapsed as communities fought over resources.

KRCS initiated the scheme at a cost of Sh300 million to fight hunger.

By the time the 1,000-acre scheme was abandoned, maize, cowpeas, watermelons, green grams, tomatoes and assorted vegetables had been flourishing. All these crops eventually dried up as warring communities turned the scheme into a battleground.

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Residents want the government to revive the scheme that ensured a steady supply of food now that there is peace. 

Richard Ruto who lives in the area said most of his neighbours cannot afford the food brought in from other regions.

"Kerio Valley is now peaceful but hunger and poverty are threatening that peace. The irrigation scheme will go a long way towards stabilising this region,” he said.

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"Apart from ensuring a steady supply of food, it also supplemented our income through the sale of surplus food."

Sawachan Kinur, another resident, said the scheme was key to their economic well being.

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"Life is tough due to hunger. The money from the sale of surplus food helped us pay school fees."

Benjamin Kasatem, the chairman of the scheme, said the project had greatly improved livelihoods.

"Food was cheap when the scheme was operational," he said, adding that the project benefited about 1,000 people directly.

Elgeyo Marakwet County Commissioner Ahmed Omar said a proposal has been submitted to the Ministry of Interior for possible revival of the project.

"We shall sink additional boreholes and open up more roads. This will greatly boost the security of this region," he said.

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Elgeyo Marakwet CountyTot-Kolowa Irrigation SchemeKenya Red Cross Society