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May 30, 2017

JICA Fights Drought in East Africa


Damage from the drought in East Africa may worsen, even after the period from 2010 to 2012, reportedly the worst in decades.

That is according to a presentation by the United Nations.

Average annual rainfall is among the lowest ever in the drought-stricken region. This includes south Somalia, where the least rain ever fell in 2016: one-third a typical year's.

The drought is now affecting Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia and South
Sudan in East Africa, as well as Yemen and Nigeria. In those countries, some 20 million people need humanitarian assistance, including food and medical care, and more than 15 million lack access to safe water. What's more, the situation may be worsening.

JICA is working to find solutions to help the region minimize the effects of the drought. Here we highlight some reports by JICA experts on their activities in the field.

JICA's initiatives

photoIn Turkana county, a field interview with herders engaged in forest preservation activities (charcoal production)
photoInvestigating forest environment support activities (nurturing pasture) carried out by Japan in the past in Tukana
county (top)

Kenya — Improving the capacity of herders to cope with drought

Project on Enhancing Community Resilience against Drought through Sustainable Natural Resources Management and Livelihood Diversification
Fumiaki Murakami, JICA expert

Tukana county, the target of this project, is the largest and northernmost county in Kenya. However, because it only gets 200 ml to 600 ml of rainfall per year, it has an unforgiving living environment and is known for having the country’s highest poverty rate.

The county has bone-dry soil, so 60 percent of the population makes its living raising livestock. In this project, JICA is working variously to improve the herders’ drought resilience. Herders have sustained major damage from the frequent droughts of recent years. While assisting the herder community, the project also aims to improve the capacity of county staff to manage drought.

Specifically, the core activities of the project are installing hand-pumped wells that serve as the watering places for the livestock, cultivating pasture and encouraging the effective use of it, and devising ways for herders to make a living besides livestock raising (livelihood diversification). The project began recently, in March, and it will be active for five more years.

Uganda — A safe, stable water supply

The Project for Operation & Maintenance for Rural Water Supply and Improved Hygiene and Sanitation
Daisuke Sakamoto, JICA expert

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of wells: shallow and deep.

Shallow wells are mainly near the surface of the earth and rainwater-fed, so they are easily influenced by rainfall amounts. Deep wells extend to a deeper stratum and are fed by underground water, so rainfall affects them little.

In some parts of Uganda, the 2016 rainfall was over 40 percent less than average. There are confirmed cases of shallow wells drying up, which greatly affects the lives of residents, including by reducing agricultural productivity.

On the other hand, a deep well at a Japan-supported water supply facility in northern Uganda continues to provide stable amounts of water. It has been confirmed that the average water level in deep monitoring wells in Uganda has varied little over the past several years.
So water supply facilities that use deep wells continue to experience few drought-caused problems such as a lack of water for daily living, and local residents have a stable supply of safe water.

photoA local technician cleans a well (left), How does it feel to use the freshly cleaned well? (right)

photoA safe, secure, stable water tap for communal use (left), Japanese assistance that has taken root in the community (right)


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