Report of a Visit to the Kisii Valley bottom Development Programme (K.V.D.P.)

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Kenya Agricultural Research Institute
In Kisii district various bottom1ands occur which up to twenty years ago were only used for communal grazing and the cutting of thatching grass. While most of the land in Kisii district has been adjudicated to Individuals, the bottom1ands were retained as county council land. In the last fifteen years farmers have started using some of the swamp lands for crop production. To make the land usable for cultivation Drains were dug to evacuate the excess water. In some cases the digging of drains had disastrous effects because the considerable subsidence which occurred after drainage triggered subsequent erosion. With the objective of coordinating the swamp development the Kisii Reclamation Unit was started in 1979 under the umbrella of the provincial irrigation unit Nyanza, with assistance from the Netherlands Government. The unit carried out various investigations and in 1980 prepared a Valley bottom Development Proposal which resulted in applications for financial assistance to the Commission of the European Communities and for technical assistance to the Netherlands Government. Both applications were granted and the Kisii Va11eybottom Development Programme started off in 1982. Drainage works were carried out in the Gesusu Pilot Valley where, although farmers’ participation was below expectation, useful experience was gained with regard to various aspects of val1eybottom reclamation. Solutions were found for some technical problems and there were expectations that the reclamation of a scheduled 2850 ha over a period of three years would be a matter of routine. However, the execution of the programme was slowed down by financial and administrative constraints (lack of cash, acquisition and storage of materials) and many more technical problems than anticipated. Also some doubts arose on the suitability of the swamp peats for sustained crop production. During the first half of 1983 a start was made with the reclamation of Sironga swamp. This work was in progress when my visit, which was arranged at the request of the K.V.D.Programme-Coordinator, took place.