The Israeli government has agreed to help source funds and provide technical support to the development of the irrigation scheme located in Turkana in northern Kenya.
A government statement issued in Nairobi on Wednesday said the 10,000 hectare irrigation scheme that Kenya plans to initiate in the Todonyang area of Turkana is tentatively set to be launched early next year, around the time Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to visit the country.
Kenya's Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who has been on a visit to Israel since last week, sealed the deal at a meeting with Israel's Minister for Industry Trade and Labor Shalom Shimhon in Tel Aviv late on Tuesday, soon after opening the Sixth International Exhibition and the Third International Conference on Water Technologies, Renewable Energy and Environmental Control.
During the meeting, Odinga asked Israel to expand its cooperation with Kenya to cover development of irrigation schemes, vocational training for farmers in water management and production of cheap, quality fertilizers and seeds.
He said the government is particularly determined to introduce irrigated agriculture among pastoral communities in northern Kenya as a way of weaning them out of pastoralism.
"The Turkana region has suffered massively and persistently from droughts that are clearly a result of climate change. People here feel abandoned. We have to do something, and not just in Turkana but in the whole of northern Kenya and other arid lands. We have made a decision to start with irrigation in Todonyang," Odinga said.
He said the droughts and floods of recent years have shown that pastoralism is badly affected by climate change and is no longer a sustainable way of life.
Minister Shimhon said Israel is ready to send experts to Turkana and begin working with the Kenyan government to source funds.
He asked the government to constitute a high level technical team to work with Israel on modalities for starting the project.
Odinga said the Ministries of Water and Agriculture will constitute the team jointly next week and forward it to Tel Aviv so that the work can begin.
While opening the Sixth International Exhibition and the Third International Conference on Water Technologies, Renewable Energy and Environmental Control, Odinga said water will get more precious as world population and the middle class grows.
He called for the development and sharing of technologies that would ensure people have access to clean water without destroying the environment.
Odinga appealed for measure to ensure farmers access water and produce food without creating more pollution.
The prime minister regretted that most times, expansion in an agricultural production has led to compromised water quality especially in rural areas.
He said science has rarely worked for those in dire need of its services due to the unwillingness of innovators to share with the poor or make their innovations affordable to them.
"In some places where the capacity and enthusiasm to implement new ideas exists, there may be no innovations or new ideas to implement," the prime minister said, adding that scientists need to address such contradictions.