Over the last few years, Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) experts have been involved with local communities in Turkana, Kenya and now the Republic of Chad, to introduce adapted ancient agricultural methods currently used in the Negev region to help build the capacities of these communities to restore ecosystems and secure food sources.
The Arava Institute project Furrows in the Desert (FID) builds local capacities in sustainable agriculture in Northern Turkana, to create greater food production. Their activities are taking place in more than 70 communities throughout Turkana. With increasing local food production from agriculture, these African communities have become more resilient to climate change and improved their living condition.
On their first visit to Turkana, Gil Siaki, Director of the KKL-JNF’s Afforestation Division in the Southern Region, and Moti Shriki, Director of Soil Conservation in the Southern Region, examined the land to locate a suitable area for the establishment of a demonstration project – based on their knowledge and experience in managing open areas and establishing forests through utilizing surface runoff in the Negev.
“It was immediately clear that the main mission would be to moderate the heavy grazing that prevents plant development and is a catalyst for significant soil erosion processes,” says Siaki.
“We transferred our knowledge and experience of how to work with measuring devices (a tripod and a level) and wooden pegs, to mark the embankments with elevations, so water will be distributed evenly throughout the embankment and reach all the trees. The local people used shovels and pickaxes to build the embankments. With the completion of the infrastructure work, we returned to Israel and waited for the first rain in Kenya. After a few months, it was finally raining, while the construction of the perimeter fence was completed and the rain filled all the runoff harvesting systems without damage,” says Shriki.
Last year, a KKL-JNF professional delegation visited the Republic of Chad to explore the challenges facing the country, especially in combating desertification and adapting to climate fluctuation. The delegation was headed by KKL-JNF’s Chief Forester, Gilad Ostrovsky, following the MOU between KKL-JNF and the Republic.
The delegates spent several days visiting Chad’s open fields, getting to know the landscape’s physical characteristics, environmental situation, water resources, and meteorological statistics, to enable them to make a suitable plan for transferring knowledge.
Another aspect of the mission was to meet with the highest level of the government and other local professionals to define the country’s goals and create a practical work process to execute any future projects.
Ronnie Vinnikov, Head of Resources Development and External Affairs at KKL-JNF, says: “We see great importance in sharing our knowledge and technologies with Turkana and the Republic of Chad, as one of KKL-JNF’s most significant goals is to take part in the global effort to combat climate change. We are happy to witness African communities becoming more resilient using innovative agricultural and watershed management methods. We are looking forward to working and learning with them to ensure a better, brighter future throughout Africa.”