Erick Omollo & Jawuoro Stanley Odhiambo
Previous research have indicated that many pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in Kenya have embraced fodder production practices to address the perennial feed scarcity which has greatly affected livestock production – their main source of livelihood. Adoption of fodder production practices have also been aimed at creating alternative source of livelihood through market oriented hay and grass seed production. Most of such households, however, are mainly constrained by lack knowledge and skill on production practices and technologies, as well as inaccessibility of markets and related information. This is reflected in the small quantities of their fodder outputs which are hardly enough to support their own livestock even for one dry season, as well as low profitability of marketed hay and grass seeds. These have the ultimate effect of limited contribution of fodder production to pastoral and agro-pastoral households’ livelihoods. This has indicated the need to invent innovate approaches that can help improve information and market access towards up-scaled benefits of fodder production and marketing among such communities.
Alongside addressing the above pressing issues on fodder production and marketing, the question of water accessibility and affordability for livestock production among such communities remains key. In a changing climate, arid and semi-arid areas experience acute water shortages as a compounded outcome of prolonged droughts and unsustainable land use practices such as deforestation and overstocking which destroy water catchments and limit the capacity of these fragile ecosystems to produce sufficient water. In the recent past, Nairobi city has witnessed an unprecedented population explosion as rural-urban migration escalates. This population is spilling over into the peri-urban drylands, further pushing the water demand beyond supply and exacerbating water crisis.
The FodderNet Innovation
Our current innovative research project is aimed at enhancing the use of combined digital platform (FodderNet) and collective action groups as a tool for improving access to information on production and marketing of fodder, as well as to facilitate interaction among the stakeholders in the fodder value chain and water use systems. FodderNet is a mobile Application which has been invented by Erick Omollo and Stanley Jawuoro, AfriCLP Research Fellows under the support of their Mentors Dr. Oliver Wasonga and Prof. Danny Simatele.
Project one: Institutional and Governance Structures and Use of Digital Platform and Collective Action in Fodder Value Chain in Southern Kenya
The project recognizes fodder production as a promising approach to addressing perennial problem of pasture scarcity in the drylands of Kenya. It is motivated by the fact that fodder production has a lot of unrealized potential which limit the benefits it can offer in enhancing pastoral and agro-pastoral households’ resilience to climate change. The project seeks to address poor market and information access and low profitability by small scale fodder producers in the drylands of Kenya through two approaches:
- Analysis of the stakeholders and institutions involved in the fodder value chain, their roles and how they influence decision making in the fodder production and marketing systems. The findings of this analysis will be will be expected to guide policy and action towards improved production and market information flow and interaction among market actors leading to increased profitability of fodder production.
- Introduction of the use of combined collective action groups and interactive digital platform in enhancing fodder production and marketing and associated socio-economic benefits in the drylands of Kenya. The ultimate goal of the project is to enhance both the returns from fodder production, as well as availability and accessibility of feed by the pastoral and agro-pastoral households in the vast dryland of Kenya, as a way of building their resilience and adaptive capacities to climate change.
Project two: “Institutional Framework for Water Resource Management and Determinants of Pastoral Household Participation in Water Resource Users’ Associations in Kajiado County”
The FodderNet will also aim to ensure that communities synergize in addressing their water demands. The Water Act of 2002 led to creation of Water Resource Users’ Associations (WRUAs) within the Ministry of Water and Irrigation. WRUAs are Community Based Organizations (CBOs) designed to give a greater responsibility to decentralized units in ensuring sustainable water use at the grassroots. These WRUAs were mandated to manage water catchments and ensure sustainable water use for resilient livelihoods within their respective jurisdictions. The app is exploring the collective responsibility model in creating a digital platform that will enhance dialogues for solutions on fodder and water issues for holistic livestock production. The end product will be hybrid, complementary roles within the fodder groups and WRUAs in ensuring that dryland communities access pasture and water all year round.