Theme 7: Capacity--Oral Sessions

Description

Irrigation has long been promoted in Africa’s drylands as a means to improve food security and livelihoods. Turkana County, one of the driest regions of Kenya, has a long history of irrigation interventions, extending from the colonial era to the present. The recent discovery of two huge water aquifers in the arid Turkana region, Kenya’s Vision 2030 and devolution has fed into enthusiasm for irrigation as an excellent solution to the multiple problems in the region against other activities like pastoralism. This is in spite of a history of failed irrigation developments in Turkana (Hogg 1987). This paper explores the power relations, knowledge and discourses of irrigation development in Turkana County, northwest Kenya in the 20th and 21st Century. It will compare irrigation development in the 20th century with a more recent set of programmes that have emerged since the turn of the 21st century. This paper focuses on Turkwel Irrigation Scheme Association (TISA), based along the Turkwel River in Loima sub-County in Turkana, which was established in 1966 but fell into disuse in the 1990s, but was re-started as part of an attempt to build a new resilience to climate change in the region. Methodologically, this article compares the views of developers with those of the Turkana people to examine the dominant irrigation development discourses across the two periods. Oral histories, participant observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups discussions were used to collect primary research data.

Share

COinS
 

Whose Knowledge Counts?: Irrigation Development in Turkana, Kenya (1963-2019)

Irrigation has long been promoted in Africa’s drylands as a means to improve food security and livelihoods. Turkana County, one of the driest regions of Kenya, has a long history of irrigation interventions, extending from the colonial era to the present. The recent discovery of two huge water aquifers in the arid Turkana region, Kenya’s Vision 2030 and devolution has fed into enthusiasm for irrigation as an excellent solution to the multiple problems in the region against other activities like pastoralism. This is in spite of a history of failed irrigation developments in Turkana (Hogg 1987). This paper explores the power relations, knowledge and discourses of irrigation development in Turkana County, northwest Kenya in the 20th and 21st Century. It will compare irrigation development in the 20th century with a more recent set of programmes that have emerged since the turn of the 21st century. This paper focuses on Turkwel Irrigation Scheme Association (TISA), based along the Turkwel River in Loima sub-County in Turkana, which was established in 1966 but fell into disuse in the 1990s, but was re-started as part of an attempt to build a new resilience to climate change in the region. Methodologically, this article compares the views of developers with those of the Turkana people to examine the dominant irrigation development discourses across the two periods. Oral histories, participant observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups discussions were used to collect primary research data.