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Irrigation meters encourage upstream farmers to use only what they need

Charging for wasted water will give more Kenyan growers their fair share

Up until recently, central Kenya communities agreed to start paying to use irrigation water. This meant that farmers expected to finally be able to grow crops during the dry season. However, as all participants in the irrigation project would paid a flat monthly water fee, upstream farmers had no incentive to limit their water usage. This meant that downstream farmers often didn't get enough.

That changed when a government initiative in 2018 extended the distribution pipeline and added water meters at all member farms, with farmers that use more water paying higher fees. As farmers in Kenya and elsewhere around the globe try to cope with more irregular rainfall driven by climate change, adding irrigation capacity is helping keep harvests regular. But careful planning to ensure farmers don't use more water than is needed - which can deplete aquifers, dry streams and leave those downstream without any supply - is also crucial, analysts say.


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