PlantVillage has constructed 2,000 soil bunds as part of the rangeland restoration efforts in four counties in the dry parts of the Northern and Rift Valley regions of Kenya.
The inaugural phase of the soil bunds project, part of the expansive Warrior View project funded by Google,is situated in Samburu, Baringo, Marsabit and Isiolo counties. These regions are inhabited by communities that predominantly rely on livestock for sustenance and are often compelled to migrate in search of water and greener pastures.
The initiative involves the creation of soil bunds, a concept pioneered by Justdiggit. The bunds are planted with Cenchrus ciliaris, a drought-resistant grass suitable for livestock consumption.
Evans Kiprono, a research extension officer, has spearheaded this restoration efforts since September 2023 by coordinating the team in identifying sites, digging the bunds, reseeding and fencing.
Evans notes that the bunds will have long-term benefits, such as being a sustainable source of food for livestock, preventing erosion of valuable topsoil, boosting resilience and encouraging agricultural practices.
"The structures will also act as a source of income for community members through selling the surplus bales and grass seeds after harvesting, and will go a long way in promoting sustainable land management for future generations," he added.
Before implementing a soil bund, meticulous considerations are made, including soil type and rainfall patterns. Design aspects like height, spacing, and alignment are carefully deliberated upon. The team also assembles local materials, such as rocks, soil, and sacks, in preparation for the construction process.
"So far so good. We have achieved the target for this quarter. The communities were impressed by the project and they gave us necessary support during construction and reseeding," Evans said.
Melodine Jeptoo, who has been overseeing the success of projects in the ASALs since 2019, has commended the advancement of the soil bunds initiative.
"The construction and seeding or reseeding are done and all of them mapped. What remains is monitoring and it'll take two seasons for the projects to be fully established," she said.