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HomeAfricaCombating Drought and Desertification, The Inspiring Story of Nareto Conservancy.

Combating Drought and Desertification, The Inspiring Story of Nareto Conservancy.


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In the heart of a region ravaged by drought and slowly encroaching desertification, a group of determined individuals have come together to fight back against the devastating effects of climate change. The Nareto Conservancy, a community-led initiative in a remote corner of the country, is spearheading an innovative approach to restoring the land and securing a more sustainable future.

The Nareto Conservancy was founded five years ago by a coalition of local farmers, ranchers, and environmentalists who recognized the urgent need to address the worsening drought conditions in their area. As temperatures rose, rainfall patterns became increasingly erratic, and vegetation cover steadily diminished, the livelihoods and very existence of these communities hung in the balance.

“We knew we couldn’t just sit back and watch our land turn to dust,” says Godfrey Sepeika, manager of the Conservancy. “Something had to be done, and it had to be done quickly. The future of our families and our way of life depended on it.”

And so, the Nareto Conservancy was born, with a mission to employ a multi-pronged strategy to combat drought and desertification. At the heart of their efforts lies a remarkable initiative that has galvanized the entire community: the voluntary digging of thousands of trenches across the drought-stricken landscape.

“The idea came to us when we saw how the land was being stripped of its vegetation, leaving the soil exposed and vulnerable to erosion,” explains Francis Meshami, the Conservancy’s general Manager. “We realized that by creating a network of shallow trenches, we could slow down the flow of water during the rare rainfalls, allowing it to seep into the ground and nourish the soil.”

Every weekend, members of the Conservancy, young and old, gather in the early morning hours to put their backs into the arduous task of digging. With shovels and pickaxes, they carve out intricate patterns of trenches across the parched earth, creating an interconnected system that helps to capture and retain precious moisture.

“It’s backbreaking work, but the sense of purpose and camaraderie keeps us going,” says Mamai, a local pastoralist who has participated in the trench-digging efforts since the beginning. “We know that every trench we dig is a small victory in the larger battle to reclaim our land and secure a future for our children.”

Alongside the trench-digging initiative, the Nareto Conservancy has also embarked on an ambitious program of grass planting, further enhancing the land’s ability to retain water and support a more diverse ecosystem. Carefully selected drought-resistant grass species are carefully tended to, their roots spreading and strengthening the soil, while their lush green foliage helps to reduce erosion and provide vital grazing grounds for livestock.

“The grass planting is crucial because it not only helps to stabilize the soil, but it also creates a natural barrier against the encroaching deserts,” explains Olerongo. “As the grass takes hold and spreads, it serves as a living, breathing shield against the advancing sands, giving us a fighting chance to reclaim our land.”

The results of the Nareto Conservancy’s efforts have been nothing short of remarkable. Once-barren stretches of land have been transformed into verdant, lush landscapes, with the trench-digging and grass-planting initiatives working in tandem to restore the delicate balance of the ecosystem.

“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the amount of water being retained in the soil, and the return of native plant and animal species is a testament to the resilience of nature,” says Patrick Topoika, the chairperson of the conservancy. “It’s a slow and painstaking process, but the progress we’ve made is a source of immense pride and motivation for our community.”

The Nareto Conservancy’s success has not gone unnoticed, with the initiative garnering attention and praise from local authorities, environmental organizations, and even international partners. However, the true measure of their accomplishment lies in the tangible improvements to the lives of the people they serve.

“Before, we were barely scraping by, watching helplessly as our livelihoods slipped through our fingers,” says Francis. “Now, we have hope. We have a future. And that is worth every drop of sweat and every blister on our hands.”

As the Nareto Conservancy continues to expand its efforts, the members remain steadfast in their commitment to combating drought and desertification, one trench and one blade of grass at a time. Their inspiring story serves as a testament to the power of community, determination, and a unwavering belief in the ability to overcome even the greatest of challenges.

About The Author

Moses Sampeke
Moses Sampeke
Community Journalist, Laikipia County, Kenya, Africa.


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