The word Yatta is driven from Akamba community of Kenya which mean ‘desert or dry land’. This name desert or dry land must have been existent from 1st to 20th centuries when evil practice was reigning over the Akamba region. Many leaders have lived and passed but brought nothing substantial to this region but through this God’s fearing man, Bishop. Dr. Masika the importance of land is being reflected and enjoy by the natives who have common goal objectives of land reclamation as that of Bishop Dr. Masika.
We boarded a bus through the Nairobi-Thika Highway and finally got into some rough road that leading to desert known as Yatta plateau. It did not make sense for some of us who were going to Yatta for the first time like me because what I was surely going to see in the desert. I lose heart as we approached Yatta. The cheer vanished on most faces as we approached our destination a desert like place.
We arrived at Yatta plateau at exactly quarter to 5 pm. We were warmly welcome by everyone with a lot of joy including tamed animals e.g. Dogs which were so playful to the visitors
And the first thing we had was a cup of tea being served with bread made from sweet potatoes. We then went to class and had introduction to the facilitators and participants. The Community Transformation Model was then introduced by Dr. Masika who also said we were going to be given trees for the night and that everyone was going to be assigned ‘a tree’ to sleep on. It gave an impression that there was no place to sleep as such. It made some apprehensive. In reality the rooms were hidden some place where the new arrivals had no idea about. That was part of the many sweet surprises we were to encounter. We had social evening that was graced with warming ourselves at the fireplace as we remembered the African way of socializing around the fire up to the 19th century. We were divided into three major groups and each group was given a minimum of three maize combs to roast and then for eating competition. The value of team work was empathized. It was also a time for bonding as we ate the roasted meat that I carefully supervised to ensure it is well done. The rest of LEP students did pretty well in their various assignments. We were then treated to a nice dinner and soft drinks. We finally retired to nice cottages with twin beds and a bathroom with spacious toilet. We constantly referred them as ‘our trees’.
The following morning we were treated with heavy breakfast then went to class. Dr Masika, the brainchild behind the Yatta land reclamation, expounded on the Community Transformation Model. He emphasized that it all begins with the transformation of the mind. After class we went to the demonstration gardens and saw different types of technologies like Zaipits technology, wet bed technology etc. We then moved to different projects like piggery, chickens, rabbits, cows; at the cowshed were 3 cows and besides that an extension where bio gas is produced and used in the kitchen for cooking. The whole village is fenced up with over 1,500 man-made dams which serve multipurpose even when there is no rain for two consecutive years.
We visited one farmer, Joseph Wambua, a class eight drop out and father 5 kids who had begun his farming with Ksh 20 from which he bought seeds for beans. Here in this region the beans were in scarcity and here Mr. Wambua took advantage of his harvests by keeping beans for future expectation of higher prices in the market which later gave him U$D 555.60, an equivalent of Ksh 50,000 after selling them. He has a dam of his own and a family dam that is owned communally by the family. Joseph keeps cows, chicken, grows different types of crops. He finds a ready market for his produce and has joined a SACCO with other farmers in the village and his yearly income is at Ksh 3,500,000(equivalent to U$D 38, 888.90) which he can use to pay his kids’ fees and save the remaining because the family has been apportioned some percentage farming land for uses. Joseph Wambua stood out as a very inspiring farmer indeed. The farming nature of this region has attracted both locals and international farmers annually and this alone in absent of selling the produces enhances individual life by payment of coordination fees.
Already in Jalle Payam we have over 200 man-made dams (including Liliir dam which is situated 400 meters south of Liliir primary school) which were dug during British administration to ensure water availability especially during dry seasons in order to control mass migration to bank of River Nile between January and May. Now the most outrageous problem that hinders members of Jalle Payam to tilt their land is insecurity. If security status of this region improves then our land will be food production centre for human beings worldwide.