View at sunset from hilltop above Morulem Irrigation Project, Kenya, looking down at green fields and surrounding barren hills, with giant cross at the crest of the hill and children from the community.
Summary: Spanning more than a thousand acres, the Morulem Irrigation Project appears as an oasis in the desert in northwestern Kenya. It was initially built in 1978 by Western missionaries, Dr. Dick Anderson and Ben Webster, who handed it over to the community in 1983. But by the early 1990s, the project needed maintenance and expansion beyond what the community could manage.
“World Vision moved in to help,” says Daniel Mwebi, World Vision’s program manager who jump-started the Morulem project in 1992. Farmers redug the canals and created bridges “so people don’t have to jump over the canals,” Daniel explains. World Vision also created gates to regulate the water flow to farmers’ gardens. They are lifted on a strict schedule to ensure that crops receive the right amount of water at the right time—usually every fifth day.
With funding from World Vision and USAID, the project grew from 150 acres to its current 1,110 acres. New crops were introduced, fruits and vegetables the people had never eaten before. A training center with a demonstration garden taught farmers how to grow organic crops. “This training center has been used by farmers all over Kenya,” says Daniel, adding that the farmers go on to start similar projects in their communities. The irrigation project helped these former pastoralists move to a new, secure lifestyle as farmers. “We were able to train farmers to calculate the amount of food they need to consume as a family for a whole year,” Daniel says. “And the rest, they sell as surplus.”
Up the hill from the irrigation project is a food bank where crops are weighed and stored. Farmers can “withdraw” food when they need it during the lean months. “And because of the surplus food they sell,” says Daniel, “they’ve been able to [afford to] connect private water to their homes.” In addition, the Morulem farmers have donated grain to fellow Kenyans suffering from drought. “The act of people who were receiving food [in the past], now donating food—that’s a memorable moment,” says Daniel Mwebi. Not only was the community of 10,000 people now food-secure—it also could respond to the needs of others.
John Atelo Ebunu, chairman of the Morulem Water Users Association, credits the irrigation project with peace in his community—unlike other parts of northern Kenya. “Without this [project],” he says, “it would be like a war zone here. People would be fighting. Without this [project], there would be no life. It is like air.”
“He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor” (Luke 4:18b). World Vision is a community of Christians following Christ’s example to work alongside the poor and oppressed.
Today’s infographic gives an overview of how our faith motivates our commitment to children and the holistic development of their communities.