Farmer Diaries-from kale to cowpeas in Kenya

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Kenya’s Dunga Wetlands project is a creative farmer-led initiative that seeks to improve crop yields on select farms in the Dunga Wetlands of Lake Victoria, Kenya. Through eco-san toilet technology, which utilizes human waste as a fertilizer, farmers can grow more agricultural crops in less space, preventing the need for further colonization of land near wetlands and hippo habitat, and reducing villager’s clashes with the hippo. CREE funding and dedication from CREE’s Kenya Project Manager Leonard Akwany and his support staff have resulted in much success with eco-san toilets to date.  In this entry we highlight three beneficiaries of Eco-San technology:

Farmer Profile: Mr. Paul Rangoro

Mr. Rangoro is both a farmer and businessman in Dunga. Before eco-san, he used to produce a crate of tomatoes in 3 months.  He never cultivated other crops because he didn’t have enough money to purchase manure. Often this situation could lead to new colonization of wetlands, which temporarily provide richer soil and negate the need for manure. However, through the manure provided by his eco-san toilet, every three months Paul now produces:

-3 times the tomatoes: 3 crates

-3 sacks of cowpeas

-3 sacks of kale

-500 onions


Farmer Profile: Mr. Patrice Omullo

Mr. Omullo is a farmer in Nyamsaria. He has been using eco-san for over two years now.  With it, he plants Maize, tomatoes, kale, sugarcane, bananas, and oranges. Every three months he has doubled his production of Kale, providing him with an extra income of 1,500 Kenyan Shillings (Ksh) from sale of Kale to neighboring households. With the eco-san toilet, Patrice now farms in a small space within his compound. Yet this compact area still yields 4,000 Ksh’s worth of income from the maize, tomatoes, and oranges.

Decreased livelihood vulnerability: Patrice used to depend solely on livestock for his manure, but this manure dehydrated the soil during the dry season and led to crop failure.  Patrice says the eco-san toilets “Maintain soil conditions, and even increase soil fertility during the dry season”.  CREE sees eco-san toilets as a societal adaptation to climate change and the seasonal extremes and variability it will bring the region. With climate change, villagers will have to adapt different methods to make a living off the land, and eco-san is an important method for this.


Farmer Profile: Mama Anjelina Jomo

Mama Anjelina is head of her household of seven, which includes her retired husband and their five children. She is a wetland farmer, and as such, experiences a lot of problems with hippos. Indeed, there have been problems with hippos invading farms that colonize the wetlands and also with hippo entrance into farms next to the wetlands. Hippos have directly attacked people and injured and killed some in other instances. CREE seeks to prevent further expansion of new farms, and is working with Mama Anjelina on education as to why conflicts are occurring, as well as increasing crop yields on her current farm so that more are not created.

The known benefits of the eco-san toilet, as quoted by Mama Anjelina, are the following:

-Helps prevent the contamination of groundwater since waste is collected above ground in separate places;

-The waste is used as manure for farming, and this waste does not produce a bad smell due to the urine and feaces not mixing. This helps prevent disease associated with bad hygiene;

-Eco-san farming is a solution to discourage wetland farming since it enhances soil fertility and reduces conflict with hippos.

CREE Project Manager Leo and his staff are instrumental in helping to turn the tide of land colonization and reduce fatalities for both hippo and man. More importantly, they are fostering more awareness and care for the hippo and its habits, as well as decreasing villager vulnerability to the dry seasons and challenges posed by climate change. In an area facing challenges of large-scale agriculture which has the potential to destroy individual farms and wetlands, CREE’s staff are pointing the way towards a Kenyan farmer led agricultural revolution that is both wildlife friendly and economically beneficial at the household level. Aldo Leopold would say the most important step in environmental change is striking a more sustainable balance between man and environment.  CREE hopes its work will foster this sustainability long-term.


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