From 21 until 28 June more than 95 enthusiastic participants joined RAIN’s Rainwater Harvesting Training in Kenya. The training aimed to provide the participants with both in-depth knowledge and practical experiences with rainwater harvesting approaches, as explained by farmers, local and international experts. To obtain as many positive and negative learning experiences, the participants travelled through southern Kenya to visit various intervention sites. Starting in Machakos, the group continued over three different routes to end in Amboseli National Park, where the conference continued.
Part I: Kick-off & Conference in Machakos
Participants coming from countries ranging from Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, DRC, Burkina Faso to Kenya arrived in Machakos. After the official kick-off sessions, the inspiring documentary ‘Thank you for the rain’ (2018) was shown and concluded with a Q&A with one of the makers, Kenyan farmer Kisilu. The documentary showed the experiences of a man with a treeplanting mission to combat climate change. Erik Nissen, one of the most acclaimed experts on waterharvesting showed his models of dams and rivers.
The first days of the training, the broader context of rain water harvesting was shown, whereby focus was on the drivers of success and failure in water harvesting. Key note speakers focused on climate smart agriculture (Henry Mahoo, Sokoine University Tanzania), community engagement (Evelyne Busingye, IUCN Uganda) and waterharvesting in fragile states (Mohamed Hejazi Idriss Banaga, ZOA). In the afternoon different RWH techniques and water storage constructions were visited in Mwala and Makongo Hills. These places showed how waterharvesting on the long term can change eroded and denuded landscapes into productive lands.
Pictures of 1937 of eroded lands compared to 2018: terraces and trees
Part II: Branching off onto different routes
In the second part of the training the group split up into three subgroups, following three different routes along: Wote, Kajiado and Kitui, whereby each route had a different character. The Wote-route focused on farmer irrigation and land improvement as well as town supply of water through sand dams. The Kajiado Route visited the Sponge City project and saw several sand dams and had dialogues with the communities using this water source. In Kitui people saw rock catchments, subsurface dams and worked on actual sand dam engineering.
Part III: Conference in Amboseli National Park
The conference continued with each conference day focusing on a specific topic: (1) climate change and climate adaptation, (2) erosion and livelihoods in Amboseli and (3) catchments and water balances. In the afternoons the program consisted of more practical activities and demonstrations of technologies. An example of this is a workshop of Justdiggit on how to dig half-moon bunds as a measure to regreen eroded lands in Amboseli. On the last day, the participants had the opportunity to bring all their experiences, expertise and insights into practice, by conducting an analysis on a potential intervention site and presenting their solutions.
As can be concluded from the enthusiasm of participants to contribute to the conference and involvement of all participants, the Rain Water Harvesting training can be regarded as a great learning experience for all parties involved. Through the training RAIN was able to facilitate and foster the sharing of knowledge, experience and insights from different countries and backgrounds within the regio.