‘Furrows in the Desert’ Volunteers in Turkana

Creating new livelihoods in the heart of the African desert

July 13, 2017 16:58
2 minute read.

‘Furrows in the Desert’ Volunteers in Turkana. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)


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Turkana is a region in Northern Kenya that suffers from poverty and nutritional insecurity. KKL-JNF’s accumulated knowledge inn sustainable agriculture in arid and semi-arid regions is utilized here to assist a traditional herding community in creating new sources of livelihood in a depleting region.  As part of the Furrows in the Desert project, and with the support of JNF-KKL Germany, volunteers from all over the world come to assist at the agricultural farm in Turkana. We met two of them who were on a visit to Israel, and we heard about their special experience in Kenya.

Lena and Martin Parlasca, who hail from Cologne, Germany, recently returned from volunteering for a half a year in Turkana. “We decided that before we settle down, we need to broaden our horizons overseas,” Lena explained. “Instead of travelling all over the world in search of experiences, we decided to stay in one place where we could learn and also be change catalyzers,” Martin added.

As part of the Furrows in the Desert project, KKL-JNF experts share their accumulated knowledge and experience on agriculture in desert regions with harsh soil and climatic conditions, including lack of water. They help local inhabitants learn how to make a living from working the soil in the arid region of Turkana and achieve food security.

Johannes Guagnin from the KKL-JNF Afforestation Division explained in greater detail: “The inhabitants of Turkana receive agricultural training, equipment and professional guidance. Advanced Israeli technology is also utilized to install solar-powered water pumps to irrigate the fields. Among other projects, KKL-JNF helped to plant a date tree plantation in Turkana.”

In addition to the dates, melons, watermelons, eggplants and okra are also grown. These are not crops that the locals were previously familiar with, so the volunteers had to teach them what to do with these vegetables and how to cook them. This important initiative began in 2010. Besides KKL-JNF, additional partners include the Israeli Brit Olam project, the Spanish Mission, the Arava Institute and the Arava Research and Development station. The volunteer project in Turkana, in which young people from Germany and Israel participate, was carried out with the support of JNF-KKL Germany.

Meet the Turkana volunteers and watch video

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