Summer at Mpala: water use and agriculture

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This summer Drew Gower traveled to Kenya for a three-week mission wrapping up one project and launching another. From 2012 to 2014, researchers from the Caylor Lab and the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University collected water use and agricultural production data in 25 community water projects (CWP) across the Laikipia region as part of a Coupled Natural and Human Systems Grant from NSF. The researchers then used this data to create individualized reports describing current practices in each project and comparisons with those of their neighbors. During the first week of his trip, Drew met with the management committees of ten CWP clustered around the Ngare Nything and Timau rivers to deliver the last of these reports and to discuss their content with interested members.

After successfully closing out the project described above, members of the Ecohydrology Lab look forward to continuing its work in Laikipia through a new project funded by a Water Sustainability and Climate grant from the NSF. This project will use environmental data collected through a field-based sensor network, along with the results of farmer surveys, to better understand how smallholders respond to climate shocks and to predict when crop failures may be imminent. Drew spent the last two weeks of his trip working with the lab staff to assemble, program and deploy these sensors at sites around the Nanyuki and Likii Rivers. Since Drew’s departure, the lab staff has deployed additional sensors at sites near the Ngusishi River as well.