Smart Water for Agriculture in Kenya


Water management in agriculture remains a serious challenge in Kenya. Around 90 percent of the country is arid or semi-arid land and it has highly variable rainfall patterns. A growing number of water-intensive economic and agricultural activities are also exacerbating these conditions.

Download the new publication: Lessons on Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration for Farmer-Led Irrigation Development

Investing in smart water solutions

At the same time, the country houses immense opportunities for irrigation and agricultural water storage. But only 12% (1,342 million ha) of this land was developed by the end of 2013. There is a significant need to invest in smart water solutions for agriculture in order to realise this irrigation potential.

Market-led water management for farmers

KIT Royal Tropical Institute, together with its partners, is helping to increase water productivity, income and food security by developing climate-smart and market-led ‘smart water’ solutions. 

By promoting market-led water management solutions, 20,000 farmers will increase their water productivity. This will assure their access to water for agricultural production and increase their income. It will also increase food security and improve their resilience to climate change. There is a strong focus on women, aiming at at least 50% of the farmers.

The project’s publication Accelerating Farmer-led Irrigation Development moves away from the usual suggestions of big-investment, big-development to address irrigation issues. Instead, it covers a new model where farmers themselves develop their water use for agriculture.

The second edition of the companion publication the ‘Smart Farmers Guide’ (2019) is also available.

Irrigation Acceleration Platforms

Within the program, KIT focuses on the facilitation and establishment of Irrigation Acceleration Platforms. These platforms facilitate collaboration between farmers, suppliers and other stakeholders. They provide a place where supply and demand meet and interact, and where innovation will be supported to more adequately satisfy the needs of farmers.

Furthermore, the program focuses on:

  • Improving the use and accessibility to Smart Water products and services by farmers, including an increased range of climate-adaptive and profitable smart water options.
  • Support for better access to finance for farmers so they can invest in Smart Water solutions.
  • Increasing access to information about Smart Water solutions, to encourage demand and to support a viable market that is attractive to the private sector.
  • Brokering business linkages between Kenyan and Dutch companies to catalyse investment in Smart Water services, processes and products scaled for small and medium-sized entrepreneurial farmers.