In the heart of Kenya, Christian Aid's partner the Christian Community Services Mount Kenya East (CCSMKE), is working with remote farming communities who are experiencing increasingly erratic weather patterns.
Where once seasons were reliable, farmers are no longer able to predict the best times to plant or harvest. This has led to many failed crops and to many farmers being left unable to feed or provide for their families.
Justin and Truphena stand proudly by their rich and varied crop, made possible through accurate planting
Despite national weather forecasts, farmers in these remote areas were not provided with specific forecasts, crucial in a region where it may rain for days in one area and remain dry in another, only an hour away.
As a result, specific weather forecasts are becoming increasingly important for farmers as the climate becomes more erratic.
With many families unable to access a television or radio, mobile phone technology is providing an innovative way of delivering much-needed information.
Over the past year CCSMKE has begun a new project that is changing the lives of farmers and helping them reap a richer, more valuable harvest.
By sending small-scale farmers scientific weather predictions and forecasts via text message technology, translated into their local language, CCSMKE enables them to plant armed with valuable information.
Furthermore, farmers are able to respond to the text messages they receive with follow-up questions or to share crop information that may be valuable to others beyond their own community.
With training provided alongside the forecasts, farmers have been able to adapt their farming techniques and crop choices to the changing climate.
They are now able to make informed decisions about what and, importantly, when to plant, particularly with a variety of local crops available, many of which are best suited to different lengths of rainy season and other conditions.
Justin Ireri is one of the farmers who receives the texts. He describes how ‘they [CCSMKE] tell you when to start planting and what kind of fertiliser to use, which is related to the forecast weather.’
Justin and his wife Truphena work their land together. Truphena explains that ‘when there is poor judgement of the weather and we find ourselves in crisis – the crops have dried up because the weather was poorly judged or there was no information – it actually becomes very painful and frustrating for a mother or for a family, looking at the children looking at you and you’ve got nothing to offer to them.’
Even in rural areas, most families now have access to a cheap and simple mobile phone; often it is the only means of communication or access to information. It is particularly essential for Justin, whose son is often ill, so he can return to care for him.
Discover more stories of families helped in Kenya
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