RT. HON. RAILA AMOLO ODINGA, EGH, MP
PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA ON
THE LAKE TURKANA INTEGRATED DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (LTIDP)
I last visited this place in May 2011 to assess the impact of drought in the region as well as to condole with the families of the Kenyans who were massacred by a militia group from the neighboring country. This area is marginalized and has a long history of insecurity, cattle-rustling, livestock losses through drought, famines, border disputes, lack of basic infrastructure and under-developed social sector such as education, health and trade. Due to these challenges, the region has lagged behind in development; thus making it difficult to integrate into the economy of the rest of the country. Whereas this unfortunate situation has persisted, the region is endowed with vast natural resources such as fertile land and fisheries which have remained unexploited. Considering this potential, I announced plans to immediately put 10,000 hectares of land in Todonyang under irrigation to produce maize, sorghum, vegetables and fruits to ease the food crisis frequently experienced. This was the beginning of my push to have development resources and services brought to this region.
Pursuit to this goal, in August 2011 a technical team from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and the National Irrigation Board conducted a preliminary assessment on the viability of the project. The study concluded that the irrigation project was viable. However, there were two fundamental challenges of insecurity and unclear boundary delineation, which needed to be addressed first.
Given the cross-cutting nature of issues involved in the implementation, I formed an Inter-Ministerial Taskforce to address the pertinent issues and prepare an implementation framework. Among the major tasks include border beacon re-establishment, security enhancement, feasibility studies and technical designs, and the execution of the plans.
Since then, security has been beefed up in Todonyang and further plans are ongoing to ensure permanent security in the entire region is guaranteed. A joint Kenya – Ethiopia team has been constituted to re-establish the border beacons and carry out peace building initiatives. This work should be finalized before the end of the year.
After consultations with stakeholders, and considering the need for holistic development approach of within the Lake Turkana basin through harnessing of the waters of perennial rivers of Turkwel, Kerio, Omo and other seasonal streams including other natural resources within the catchment, the mandate of the taskforce was expanded to focus on an integrated Lake Turkana Basin Development Programme. Lake Turkana basin covers Turkana, Marsabit and Samburu counties with a total area of 155,020 km2 and a population of over 1.4 million people. Todonyang irrigation scheme is the first phase of this programme.
A lot of effort has gone into this project. In November 2011, during my official visit to Israel, I entered into an agreement with Israeli Minister for Industry, Trade and Labor for the Israeli government to provide technical support to the development of the proposed Todonyang irrigation project and dryland agriculture ‘Furrows in the Desert Project’ at Lobur. This commitment was further reinforced by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu through a letter addressed to me dated 17th April 2012. The Israeli Ambassador to Kenya, His Excellency Gil Heskel and other officials from the Embassy, have accompanied me to witness the progress of this initiave. Also present are experts from Amiran who are providing technical support.
The Todonyang Irrigation Scheme is designed to promote irrigated agriculture integrated with livestock, fisheries, aquaculture and ecotourism. The estimated cost of the project is Kshs. 20 billion covering 10, 000 hectares. The success of the project will improve food security and nutrition of the local population. It will also generate employment and increase income for the betterment of livelihoods. I would like to take this earliest opportunity to urge the local community to participate actively in order to reap maximum benefits accrued from it.
The Furrows in the Desert project at Lobur is designed to introduce sustainable dry-land agriculture through harnessing of surface and underground water resources using appropriate technologies for integrated crop and livestock enterprises. This project is a joint venture between the Missionary Community of Saint Paul the Apostle (MCSPA) of Catholic Diocese of Lodwar, in collaboration with 2 Israel organizations; Brit Olam and Arava Center for Sustainable Development. The Government of Kenya will contribute to the up scaling the project through co-funding of the construction of Maisa water dam and establishing a 10-hectare drip irrigation model farm at Lobur using water from the dam.
The Ministry of Water and Irrigation through National Irrigation Board has allocated a total of Ksh 300 million; of which Ksh 100 million will be used to construct Maisa dam and establish a 10-hectare irrigation project at lobur. Ksh 150 million will go into Todonyang irrigation project and further Kshs. 50 million to the construction of Todonyang community water supply and a 5-hectare model farm.
Lastly, I am directing the various implementing agencies and stakeholders to move with speed in executing the project and bring it to fruition within the shortest time possible.
With these few words, I officially launch the Todonyang Irrigation project.