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It is impossible to end poverty, hunger or malnutrition without the right involvement of women. They contribute significantly to agriculture and food security around the globe yet they face unequal access to training, resources, and opportunities to adopt new agricultural technologies, grow their businesses, and spend their hard-earned income to improve living. Empowering them is critical to ensuring sustainable development.

With access to improved technologies, knowledge and information, women farming in Kajiado County are bridging the gender gap and changing their lives and those of their families and community members. Pastoralism having been the major economic activity in the region, they have welcomed farming through irrigated agriculture. The common crops grown in the region include watermelon, tomatoes, onions and maize.

They are reaping through irrigated agriculture following water-harvesting pans put together by the government through the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) to boost farming in Kajiado County as well as throughout the country. “Maji ilikua shida kupata, lakini sasa maji iko karibu,” (Water access has been a challenge, but now it is within reach) says Gladys Kipaya, a farmer in Kajiado County. Through irrigated agriculture, she has been able to earn and educate her children.

Among the interventions are construction and rehabilitation of community water pans, Household Irrigation Water Storage Project and establishment of large-scale irrigation projects under the Expanded National Irrigation Programme.

“My community has ventured into farming, thanks to Olookil water pan implemented by NIA. Now we can earn a modest living and empower other women employed as casuals in the farms,” says Ruth Joshua.

“The water pans in Kajiado County collectively hold up to 325,000 cubic metres with a potential of irrigating up to 260 acres. These have benefited about 260 households directly,” says Eng. Loise Kahiga, the NIA’s Chief Planning and Design Engineer.