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Kenya Builds Canals in Arid District to Cut Dependence on Relief

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Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Kenya will spend 3 billion shillings ($36 million) developing an irrigation project in the arid, eastern district of Tseikuru in an effort to end the area’s dependence on food relief.

The project at Wikithuki, about 145 kilometers (91 miles) northeast of the capital, Nairobi, will involve the construction of canals and trenches to irrigate 5,000 acres (2,023 hectares) of land using water from the Tana River, said William Kakuru, the chairman of the Wikithuki Irrigation Scheme.

The work is being undertaken by the Kenyan National Irrigation Board and Moi University, he said. The project was to have been carried out by the Egyptian government and Alexandria University. Their involvement was canceled after the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Kakuru said.

“The irrigation will contribute to food security and replace unreliable rain-fed agriculture that causes perennial food shortages in the area,” Daniel Kiambo, a member of the irrigation project, said in a phone interview yesterday. “It will also save government billions of shillings used in purchasing relief food every year.”

Kenya’s government allocated 1.4 billion shillings to the project in its 2012-13 financial budget and will budget a further 1.6 billion in the 2013-14 fiscal year, Kakuru said.

To contact the reporter on this story Abjata Khalif in Garissa via Nairobi at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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