Research team to tackle rainwater return on investment in Kenya

Dr. Patrick Kariuki of South Eastern Kenya University analyzes a farm pond in Kitui

Dr. Patrick Kariuki of South Eastern Kenya University analyzes a farm pond in Kitui County. Photo: GKI

Governments, non-profit organizations, and farmers have built rainwater harvesting structures across East Africa’s drylands.  These structures are designed to provide water to communities that need it for agricultural production, domestic use, and hygiene — communities such as those in Kenya’s drylands, where droughts are common and water scarce.  The extent to which these structures effectively meet these goals, however, varies greatly. Organizations and individuals investing in rainwater harvesting structures designed for agricultural production often do not have a clear picture of their return on investment. This constrains their ability to find financing for these potentially transformative technologies,  raising the question: how might we determine return on investment — and develop viable business models — for rainwater harvesting structures in dryland Kenya?

In October and November 2013, Global Knowledge Initiative LINK (Learning and Innovation Network for Knowledge and Solutions) Winner and Kenyatta University lecturer Dr. Kennedy Mwetu will collaborate with a team at World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and GKI to collect data from sites in Eastern Kenya that will provide insight on predictors of return on investment for rainwater harvesting technologies.  The goal of this work is to establish viable business models for rainwater harvesting in Kenya’s drylands.  Joining them in this fieldwork will be Dr. Mick O’Neill, a professor of crop production at New Mexico State University, members of Dr. Mwetu’s team (from South Eastern Kenya University, Makerere University, and Kenyatta University), and Kenyatta University graduate students.  In preparation for field work, GKI will provide training on empathizing with rural communities and field research techniques to Kenyatta University students.

Since July 2012, GKI has been working with Dr. Mwetu and Kenyatta University through the LINK Program.  In collaboration with his research team, we have developed a research network including stakeholders in the US, Kenya, and elsewhere committed to increasing farmer incomes through rainwater harvesting.  Come back to this blog for additional information on this fieldwork in the coming weeks.

Kenyatta University research team looks at shallow well in Kitui County. Photo: GKI

Kenyatta University research team looks at shallow well in Kitui County. Photo: GKI

For more information on this research, or Dr. Mwetu’s work, contact GKI Program Officer Andrew Gerard at: Andrew.gerard@gkinitiative.org.

Contributor: Andrew Gerard

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