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More Isiolo youth to embrace agriculture as water project launched

Lawrence Bishilai at his farm in Ngaremara ward, Isiolo county, on August 12, 2021. [Jael Mboga, Standard]

More than 8,000 residents of Ngaremara ward, Isiolo, will now have access to clean water following the commissioning of a water supply station.

Farmer Lawrence Bishilai said the project will attract more youth to agriculture. He was speaking at the launch of the water station in the ward on Thursday.

He said the community previously covered up to 8km in search of water.

The 47-year-old father of eight said farming has kept Ngaremara youth busy, reducing cases of cattle rustling and banditry.

Since water is scarce, farmers in the area have focussed on furrow irrigation which uses little water.

Last month, the State warned of worsening drought in at least 10 counties, including Isiolo.

The others are Garissa, Kilifi, Mandera, Samburu, Tana River, Wajir, Lamu, Marsabit and Turkana.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said the government is working around the clock to assist families in the counties afflicted by the drought. 

“The National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) has new data that indicates that the current drought situation could get worse between August and December, hence the need for action,” he said.

His statement came following a study by NDMA, which pointed to poor rainfall.

The more than Sh12 million water system was funded by Nestlé and constructed by Kenya Red Cross, in partnership with the county government of Isiolo.  

Bishilai now practices onion and tomato farming, with help from his son Robert Bishilai, who called for more help in getting piping that will supply the water to more households.

"We need more assistance with the supply of pesticide and training on smart agriculture practices," Robert said.

Also at the launch was Isiolo Water executive Josephine Eregai, who said the water project has also improved residents' security. Women in search of water risk being attacked by wild animals such as elephants.

Nestlé Kenya’s Managing Director Ngéntu Njeru said the joint water supply initiative has contributed to the construction of an equipped community borehole, an elevated steel tank, and two solar-powered water kiosks.

Kenya Red Cross secretary general Dr Asha Mohammed said, "With access to safe and clean water and community knowledge on sanitation, local communities are less susceptible to illness and the critical effects of drought."

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