Peace through Water

( Article submitted by Gidi Peiper )
"TIPA" – A Miracle in the Desert  -  (A part of the Furrows in the Desert project)
The needs of the people of Turkana are enormous. Turkana is a seven hour drive from the nearest city in the northern part of the country and unknown to many people in Kenya and abroad.
TIPA (Means "Drop" in Hebrew), is a project devised by Rotary Israel as a part of Furrows in the Desert (FID), a regional agricultural program designed to help developing an agricultural infrastructure in north-east Turkana district, Kenya, in order to provide the residents with new sources of food and income. TIPA is a Rotary Project and is operating in full accordance with FID.
FID was developed jointly by three Non-Government Organizations: Brit Olam – International Volunteering and Development, ACSD - Arava institute for environmental Studies, and Missionary Community of Saint Paul the Apostle.
Turkana is a semi-arid district in north-west Kenya. It is populated by the Turkana tribe, nomadic pastoralists known for their hardiness and adaptability to harsh environmental conditions. During the last decades, owing to climatic, demographic and geopolitical changes, the Turkana can no longer live off traditional pastoralism.
The rising frequency of droughts in the area results in the destruction of high rates of the livestock on which their livelihood depends. These conditions lead to starvation and death, malnutrition, diseases, conflicts with the neighboring tribes and dependency on international aid organizations. The target area is the north-eastern part of Turkana, a particularly remote region populated by approximately 140,000 people, about half of which are children and youth.
Turkana is characterized by hot temperatures all year round, low soil fertility, water shortage and alkalinity combined with frequent droughts. These semi-arid conditions do not allow for traditional agriculture in the area. Traditional methods of vegetables production, practiced in many other parts of Kenya and Africa in general, are labor intensive and inefficient resulting in low profitability even in fertile areas.
Hand irrigation with watering cans, which is the most popular technology, mainly performed by women, is very labor intensive and is limited to only to 25-50 square meters per day.
Surface irrigation (shown at the right) is limited to fine textured soils and flat surfaces. It results in huge water waste and soil compaction. It is also labor intensive.
TIPA: support of family plots
TIPA is designed to support the establishment and maintenance of family-scale agricultural plots in the area. These plots will be established, maintained and owned by graduates of the training provided by FID, and by their assistants.
The family plots are based on the TIPA model. This model, which was developed for rural smallholders, includes 500 sqm plots irrigated by a low-pressure drip irrigation system. A plot based on this model can supply fruit and vegetables that can be sold in the local markets. The quantity and market prices of one plot production can provide a six-people family enough money to buy food containing all its nutritional needs. After a while, depending mainly on water availability, the plot size can be doubled so 3 as to produce surplus for marketing as a source of income for the family beyond purchasing food.
The solution
The best solution is a low-pressure drips irrigation system. Shown at the right has the  major advantages:
• TIPA will produce vegetables around the year.
• Water saving and efficient use
• Labor saving
• Operational simplicity
• High yields and high product quality
The plots are irrigated from local dams, earth pans and boreholes. Optimally, the family plots will be located in clusters around the richer water sources available in the area. This organization allows for collaboration between several farmers for efficiency and for mutual support. Water is provided from a central irrigation system ) including appropriate pumps, delivery pipelines, central tanks and distribution pipelines), but the producers have individual control over management of their plots.
Community participatory approach
TIPA promotes local management towards future sustainability and independence. The project community participatory approach is based on the following principles:
  • Collaboration with the local leadership: basic issues such as the choice of trainees, plot locations etc. will be decided in consultation and agreement with the local Turkana elder committees or whatever form of leadership which prevails in the relevant community (including formal letters of allotment).
  • "Training the trainers": Training local agricultural instructors who will join the program staff and manage the training in the future.
  • Emphasis on the participation of women in the training. As the results of many agricultural initiatives in developing communities show, this strategy is beneficial for the family, and in the same time empowering the women as a goal in itself.
  • Organized collaboration of neighboring farmers in matters of irrigation, equipment purchase, trading agricultural products with each other and marketing their products as a community to further markets. To allow for this, whenever possible, plots will be established in clusters or in close proximity to each other.
The Project
Our objective is to cover
Cultivate plots which are to be established during the program.
  • A Rotary Club or District that takes part in the project adopts families' plots of 500 square meters.
  • The project includes water equipment, seeds, fertilizers, tools, etc.
  • Each agricultural family plot in the framework of "TIPA“
  • Calculated cost for three years $ 2.250 per person
Operating Organizations
- "Brit Olam" stated in Tel Aviv, Israel.
- Arava center for sustainable development.
- Missionary Community of St. Paul stated at the Diocese of Lodwar, Kenya.
- The Rotary Foundation submitted by District 2490 Israel, and the Muthaiga Rotary Club District 9212, Kenya.
Each partner organization is contributing its part in the construction of training and demonstration farm manned by Israeli farm manager and Israeli volunteers assisting by the infrastructure and staff of the MCSPA.
A Year Later during another trip to Turkana, the results of Tipa Project – "A Miracle in the desert"