Survival in Tsavo with Drought or Have the Long Rains Arrived?

Climate Change

I have been deeply moved after seeing the David Attenborough programmes on Climate Change, along with news of Extinction Rebellion protests and thousands of young people around the world calling our Governments to urgent action, while we still have the chance to turn things around for our planet. I think many of us have been shaken to the core by the scientific predictions of the irreversible changes to our whole world and society as we know it, if urgent action isn’t taken.

GlobalAngels is working on the front lines of climate change, with some of the world’s most vulnerable communities who are directly suffering the effects of unpredictable weather patterns, droughts, floods, cyclones, extreme heat or cold, deforestation and water resources drying up.

Tsavo Project- Surviving Drought, Famine or Late Rains?

With subsistence farming being the main source of food for the 20,000 people living in the Itinyi Valley, we have been preparing for serious food deprivation and even starvation over the coming months. After a couple of days of rain in early March, everyone thought the long rains had begun. Corn, millet and sorghum seeds were planted by the community. But as no further rain came throughout March and April, seeds rotted in the ground. It seemed the rains had failed to come and hope for harvest was lost. The whole community was devastated and fearful.
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Agriculture is the main source of livelihood and contributes 95% of household incomes in this area. Absolute poverty stands at 57% while 48% of the population experience food poverty, means it’s always a struggle to survive.

With the long rains usually finishing in May, and having thought we had missed them, we were surprised last week, by a deluge of rain that was so heavy, it filled our three water pan dams within a couple of hours. With the capacity to hold 1 million litres of water in our dams, this has been just amazing to experience. To avoid overflow of the dam banks, our team immediately began pumping water to our masonry tanks, providing 300,000 litres of long-term storage for our shade houses and orchard over the next year. We were also able to capture and store 50,000 litres of rain water from the roof of our farm centre.
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It’s raining
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One of our 150,000 Litre masonry tanks filled with water from the water pan dam.
Can you imagine, me in London on my mobile, with Jared in Tsavo on his mobile excitedly showing me live footage of the downpour while walking me around the whole 20-acre farm. I was thrilled to see how all the work the team had been doing over the last year was now paying off. The swales and trenches we have built on our land to slow down heavy water flow were also full to brim. The overflow waterways we had created were working to divert the water as planned. The weather forecast predicted more heavy rain during the night and the next morning.

We had to act quickly to create new water diversions so the swales and water pans didn’t overflow. Our neighbour’s swales had broken their banks putting our office building and new road in danger. Jared worked through the night and had to call in many workers to help prepare for the next deluge. By mid-morning everything was in hand, crisis over. What a brilliant team. I am so proud of them.

It is still raining in Tsavo, the community have planted a new lot of seeds, and tender shoots are showing their heads. Hopefully, the long rains were just late and the rain continues over the next weeks. If so, we will have averted starvation in the area for this year.
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Second covered masonry tank full
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Here is one of the full water pan/dams with the blue pipe draining the captured rainwater and pumping it to the masonry storage tank which is almost full.
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What's Next?

On our project visit in March, in response to finding out almost half of five to six-year-old children in one of the village schools had certified mild or medium malnutrition, we launched an emergency school feeding programme. In this pilot, we will develop an optimum nutritious breakfast and lunch that delivers 60-80% of each child’s nutritional needs each school day, the bulk of which will be grown in our gardens and milled in our mill. We will be able to measure the impact of our programme over the next year as we develop a model to offer other schools in the valley, using food grown by the wider community.

700 Capacity Poultry Farm

This week, we have started building a poultry building to accommodate another 500 birds, with the aim to sell 100 every week to local restaurants, helping the project itself to become self-sustaining by covering some of our local running costs. Each week we will purchase another 100 day-old-chicks.

Within five weeks we will have reached our capacity for 700 birds. We hope to bring in other farmers to join us, taking our capacity to supply 200-300 birds a week to local restaurants. The next phase will be to expand to being the main supplier of eggs in the nearby town, and day-old chicks to farmers.
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100 One-day-old chicks have arrived
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Digging foundations of the 50ft by 10 ft poultry building
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Making 2.688 bricks for the walls of the poultry building

100 One Acre Sustainable Farms Programme and Global Angels Co-operative

We are currently forming a new co-operative to take community grown produce to market along with our own.

Members of the co-operative will join our Learning Centre for community education courses and have access to small loans to develop their poultry businesses, along with seed for planting sorghum and millet on their farms.

This will take us into the launch of our 100 One Acre Sustainable Farms Programme once we have funding.

Long Term Sustainability

With food security being such a huge problem in this area because of water issues and soil degradation along with severe poverty, the work we are doing here becomes increasingly more important and it also adds so much value to our success here. If we can model how to become sustainable through our permaculture, our land restoration, our tree planting, our water harvesting and storage, choose drought resistant crops and supporting small business development, we can really see the land transformed and the communities thrive. I feel so encouraged that we will reach our goal over the next three to five years.

As David Attenborough said on his documentary, “What happens next is up to us all. I truly believe that together we can bring about the transformative change that is needed”.

We welcome your support of our project. If you would like to donate to help us transform Tsavo, please click on the link below. You will be offered a place to write any notes pertaining to how you would like your gift used in the project.
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