Rainwater harvesting from Roads For Indigenous Pasture production and improved rural livelihoods in semi-arid Kitui, Kenya (ROFIP)

Roads for Improved Pasture Production in Drylands

Livestock keeping is a way of life among communities inhabiting African drylands. However factors such as inadequate quantity and quality of pasture, due to land degradation, climate variability and change, are threatening the livelihoods of many pastoral communities.

Therefore, there is need to cushion these communities against such vagaries of nature. This project integrates rainwater harvesting from roads and grass reseeding for improved pasture production and rural livelihoods in a typical semi - arid environment in Africa.

Image: via Flickr (by: Luciano Rizzello)

More knowledge items of this project on the Food & Business Knowledge Platform website.


Project leader: Dr Kevin Z. Mganga – Rise Against Poverty Worldwide – Kenya (RAPk) and South Eastern Kenya University
Consortium partners: Dr Frank van Steenbergen (MetaMeta Group – Netherlands), Prof. Nashon K.R. Musimba (South Eastern Kenya University)

Final results

This ROFIP project assessed the potential of harvesting rainwater from roads for enhanced indigenous pasture production in a semi-arid environment in Kenya. Roads were used as a catchment and runoff generated from rainfall episodes was diverted into reseeded pastures with trenches established at intervals, across a slope. The ROFIP project also integrated micro-catchments created by using ox-driven ploughs, a traditional practice for seedbed preparation and harnessing rainwater harvesting in-situ among the local agropastoral Kamba community. Using water-sensors to monitor soil moisture content, ROFIP project demonstrated that combining the diversion of runoff from roads and harvesting rainwater in-situ enhances and prolongs soil moisture availability in reseeded pastures. Consequently, this translated to higher biomass yields (i.e. forage for livestock) and vegetation cover (land degradation mitigation and Rainwater harvesting from roads for indigenous pasture production & improved rural livelihoods in Kenya (ROFIP) enhanced soil health). It clearly demonstrated that combining rainwater harvesting and pasture reseeding enhance water retention and soil health, thus improving sustainable pasture production. However, for this to be achieved, it is prudent to involve local communities to co-design practical solutions that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Furthermore, local and regional markets need to be strengthened and formalized in order to venture into the full potential of the pasture value chain.


In the drylands of Kenya, livestock production remains a key economic activity. However, factors such as scarcity of pasture, land degradation, climate change and variability are threatening the livelihoods of millions of agro pastoral communities who depend on the natural resource base for their existence. Therefore, there is need to cushion these communities against such vagaries of nature. This work proposes to integrate sustainable land management strategies notably rainwater harvesting, soil conservation and grass reseeding for increased pasture production and rehabilitation of degraded drylands. We envisage that increased pasture production will generate additional income (farming as a business) and improve livelihoods through sale of surplus milk, hay and grass seeds. Increased milk production as a result of increased and reliable source of feed will contribute to improved human nutrition status.


Project number

W 08.270.348

Main applicant

Dr. K.Z. Mganga

Affiliated with

Rise Against Poverty Kenya

Team members

L. Bosma, R. Hovens, L.L.C. Knoop, Dr. K.Z. Mganga, Prof. N.K.R. Musimba, Dr. A. Ndathi, Dr. F.W.M. van Steenbergen


01/09/2017 to 30/06/2019

Link to Food & Business research programme page
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