successfully developed rain fed land
reclamation methods and strategies appropriate for
different dryland eco-zones and communities.
Most dryland areas of Kenya are communally
owned, with land tenure and use rights still defined by the resident communities
out a thorough environmental and social assessment to
identify the appropriate land reclamation methods and
strategies needed for each particular area. RAE's
reclamation methods rely solely on rainfall, without
the use of irrigation. Members of the community are involved in all
stages of the reclamation process, which can be on a
large or small scale. Reclamation is carried out on a
cost-sharing basis in fulfillment of requests made by
community groups or individuals.
RAE tractor's prepare a
community field with a rainwater
RAE plants communal and 'private' fields in response to requests from communities, interest
groups and individuals.
Each year, RAE receives multiple community-based
requests to reclaim degraded land in Baringo and other
dryland areas. The fact that the number is steadily
growing is testimony to the success and increased
community uptake of the programme. Precedence is
given to fulfilling requests from Baringo, but more and more
requests are being fulfilled in collaboration with
partners in other dryland areas.
From Baringo alone, RAE receives an approximate 1-200 requests annually
for the reclamation of both
private and communal fields. A private field is a demarcated plot of
land that is used and managed by an individual or an
individual family, while a communal field is managed
by a community group of shareholders, such as a
women's group. In both cases, the land remains
communal and is not legally owned, but
the community recognises that the land 'belongs' to
the land users. This is especially true in the case of private
fields, where an individual family has lived on their
land for many
A RAE tractor prepares a
private field for grass seed planting
The same field after rehabilitation
Fulfilling requests for the reclamation of smaller
private plots is relatively straight forward. It is the
family's responsibility to have their land
approved by the wider community, fence their plot, and
contribute towards the reclamation process, in cash
and labour. The process is similar for larger communal
plots, although more complex. Community
members have to formalise themselves as a cohesive
group, discuss their request with the wider community
at public meetings, and have their request passed upwards through
the Government administration, from Sub-location to
Reclamation methods are defined by assessing
area conditions as well as the availability of funds.
From RAE's experience to date, fencing, or some
form of protection, is necessary for sustainable
reclamation to take place. In more 'traditional'
and cohesive communities, this may be possible through
communal consensus or agreement, but this often proves
to be more the ideal than the reality.
Solar powered electric fencing, being replaced by
Opuntia which must be carefully managed
||All new field owners, both individuals and
community groups, are expected to fence and sustain
their own plots, although assistance with the fencing
of larger areas may sometimes be required. RAE is
continuing its library and field research to identify
the most effective type of fencing. Solar powered
electric fencing is still preferred, particularly for
large areas, but field trials on live fencing are also
emphasised, including trials with Acacia
mellifera, Opuntia and Sisal species.
is an effective fence, but must be carefully
managed to ensure it does not become a weed. Although
initially expensive, solar fencing can be moved
to other sites when a planted live fence takes over. Thorn fences, used by
pastoralists traditionally, involve repeated cutting
of thorn trees further denuding the environment.
Field Preparation: Field
preparation methods and techniques are defined by such
factors as the size of area to be reclaimed, the
degree of degradation, soil types, rainfall, the
amount and type of invasive species, the presence of
wildlife, and the financial and human resources
Different methods are used to prepare degraded
land, all of which involve some form of rain water
harvesting or the building of micro-catchments.
moisture must be utilised effectively to increase
water penetration and slow run-off.
Women use hand tools to
prepare a field for rehabilitation
| Micro- catchments
follow the surveyed contour, and can be built by
machine or by hand. Examples include ripping,
harrowing and the construction of embankments or
in most cases, scarification by tractor and harrow is
used with additional water harvesting bunds
constructed on the contour. Although similar methods
are used to prepare communal and private fields,
reclamation by hand using a hoe is encouraged for
smaller plots where suitable.
Planting and seeding: Once a field is
fenced and prepared, the planting of indigenous trees
and seeding of grasses begins.
Grass seed is hand broadcast across the surface of the prepared field and incorporated into the soil, either by hand (for example, using a hoe) or by machine (such as a harrow). The planting of indigenous multi-purpose trees from the RAE nursery is also encouraged, especially in deforested areas.
Different indigenous species have been identified as appropriate for different eco-zones through research and field trials, with local preferences also considered. The most commonly planted grass seed is
Cenchrus ciliaris, but a mix of species is promoted. Other species include,
Cymbopogon spp., Enteropogon macrostachyus, Sehima nervosum, and Eragrostis superba.
All grass species used for reseeding are perennial and indigenous. Almost all the seed is harvested from fields previously reclaimed be RAE.
Women seed a prepared
A mixture of grass species
harvested from previously reclaimed fields is used for