Israeli Ambassador to Kenya Oded Joseph and Turkana County Governor Josphat Nanok have agreed to further the partnership between the County Government and Israel in food security and water programmes.
In a meeting held at the County Headquarters, the envoy and Governor Nanok acknowledged the similarities between Israel and Turkana especially on climate, with the county keen to replicate successful Israeli innovations and programmes. The two committed to establishing a joint technical team to further explore the collaboration.
The ambassador said that Israel had identified ten counties to work directly with and Turkana is one of the devolved units picked.
On water management, the Ambassador announced that the Israeli government together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will support the development of the County Water Laboratory capacity to carry out tests on the quality and suitability of water.
The diplomat added that the lab will provide information that will advise on the best interventions depending on the quality of water. He stated that the County can emulate Israel and adopt different approaches to address water scarcity, including desalination and water harvesting.
The Ambassador also shared the proposal on water management programme with Governor Nanok. He promised to push for the inclusion of recent agriculture graduates from Turkana in an Israeli-funded sponsorship programme for select Kenyans to undergo an 11-month specialized training in Israel. The graduates will be required to work in Turkana, with the objective of increasing expertise in the field.
To continue capacity building the County staff, Ambassador Oded informed the Governor that in-person training in Israel will commence after Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted. He said virtual training will be held in the meantime.
On his part, Governor Nanok agreed that the transformation of Turkana would require the same commitment from residents of Turkana in the same way Israel strove to build all aspects of its economy to global standards.
He informed the Ambassador that the county was keen to tap into Israeli expertise in crop production, with innovation for dryland farming including transformational aggrotech. He said research and success of model irrigation schemes had proven that Turkana held the potential for agriculture, with crops such as groundnuts, soybean, sunflower and a variety of fruits and vegetables suited for the climate and soil type.
The Governor reiterated the county’s vision to shift from subsistence farming to commercial production and urged the Ambassador to facilitate linkages with Israeli investors who will invest and allow residents to learn from their best practices. He admitted that the success of commercial agricultural production rested on finding a solution to water scarcity.
Governor Nanok appreciated the commitment of Israel and UNEP in supporting the county to develop the water lab. He agreed that with massive groundwater resources including numerous water aquifers, finding the technology to make saline water suitable for domestic use will solve water challenges currently being experienced.