|dc.description.abstract||With the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) accounting for more than
70%of Kenya's total land area, and supporting an increasing population
of both humans and animals, investment in water resources
development will be a critical research and policy agenda for national
development. From 1998 to date, devastating droughts have been persistent in
Kenya to the level of being declared national disasters. Drought events translate
into severe soil moisture deficits, far below crop and pasture water requirements.
Often this is followed by crop failure and hence hunger, famine, livestock deaths
and general human suffering. By way of intervention, government has often
responded by focusing on short term measures like appealing for food aid, which
in essence is a reminder of urgent policy re-orientation that would make ASAL
areas self-sufficient when it comes to guaranteeing people's basic needs like food.
A look at previous drought incidences in Kenya seems to suggest that although
such climatic phenomenon are stochastic, drought should be expected every after
about 4 years (Table 5.1). As such planning for lasting solutions should be possible
instead of addressing symptoms on a routine basis ..
With more than 20 devastating drought events already experienced, yet no viable
counter-strategy to date, Kenya seems to either lack the relevant policy framework
and or necessary political will to implement workable solutions. This too calls for
research into possible causes of inaction to inform future decision-making. Besides
scarcity of water, the ASALS also exhibit inherent characteristics that make them
fragile ecosystems deserving careful management options in order to maximise
on their agricultural potential (Table 5.2).
Further, Barron and Rockstrom (2003) observed that contrary to conventional
thinking, the dry lands are not absolutely deficit of water especially when it rains,
but rather suffer from poor rainfall distribution and poor land and water
management. As such, ASALdevelopment is hinged upon an integrated approach
that focuses on its inherent limitations.||en_US