Alice Deye weeds vegetables at her farm in Hola, Tana River County, August 13, 2023. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Vagaries of climate change have cast a heavy burden on the pastoralists of Tana River County, leaving them with no choice but to explore new avenues for survival.

The once-thriving livestock industry has been ravaged by droughts and other climate-related disasters, forcing resilient communities to turn to farming as a means of sustenance.

In the remote and fertile region of Santhama Village, located in the Tana Delta, a remarkable transformation is taking place.

People from different communities are uniting in their struggle against the harsh effects of climate change, attempting to make a living through farming despite numerous challenges. Poverty levels run high, and the area's inaccessibility poses additional obstacles.

Moved by the plight of these courageous farmers, Tana River County Woman Representative, Amina Dika, embarked on a journey to provide support and assistance.

Tana River Woman Representative Amina Dika. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, she distributed water pumps and pipes to 15 villages in the area, enabling irrigation and offering a glimmer of hope. Additionally, the farmers were supplied with various seeds, carefully chosen to thrive in their local environment.

Among the farmers, Mohamed Shobe shared his personal story of resilience. Devastated by the loss of his cattle during the recent drought, he made the difficult decision to abandon pastoralism and embrace farming as a new path. However, he faced countless challenges due to the lack of access roads and the manual labor required to till the land for their small farms. Despite the hardships, Shobe managed to cultivate four acres, planting maize, beans, and cowpeas.

Galgalo Molu, another farmer from Santhama, expressed how the entire pastoralist community recognized the need for change and embraced farming as a viable alternative to livestock keeping. Their determination has been rewarded, as those who once relied solely on farming are now purchasing products from these resilient farmers. Molu expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Woman Representative, acknowledging her unprecedented support in the form of water pumps and pipes. Previous leadership had neglected their remote villages, making this gesture all the more significant.

Molu highlighted the untapped potential of Santhama, with over 10 villages and more than 3000 acres of land that could be cultivated. He urged both the County and national government to extend a helping hand, recognizing that if the resources were utilized effectively, Santhama could become a vital food-producing region, capable of feeding the entire Tanariver County.

Nancy Miano tends to her paddy field at Hola Irrigation Scheme. [Nehemiah Okwembah, Standard]

The Woman Representative, Amina Dika, shared her deep appreciation for the resilience demonstrated by the pastoralists.

She acknowledged that climate change had forcibly driven many people from traditional livestock rearing into the realm of farming. Dika recognized this shift as a unique advantage for the people of Tana River due to the abundance of available land.

She appealed to the Government and climate change organizations to prioritize Tanariver County, emphasizing the commitment of the locals to farming despite limited resources.

The farmers echoed the urgent need for support from both the county and national governments. They called upon their leaders to recognize the potential of their region and invest in their endeavours to overcome the challenges posed by climate change. Their resilience and determination are undeniable, but with the backing of supportive policies and resources, their efforts can flourish, ultimately transforming their lives and the entire Tanariver County.

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