Kenya’s youth use mapping technology to combat soil erosion

This article was written by a social reporter. It has not been edited by the Forum organisers or partners, and represents the opinion of the individual author only.


Rainfall in Kenya’s Kerio Valley can be a dangerous thing. Hurtling down from the sky, it hits the ground and steals the fertile soil away, running down the Kerio River and to bottom of Lake Kamnarok where the soil is lost forever.

As a young naïve boy growing up in Kenya, I witnessed the devastating effects that this had on my father’s farm – his topsoil carried away after large floods so that he had to double the amount of fertilizer just to keep his crops alive.

Once our main sources of water, the lakes are now just cracking dustbowls. This forces us to travel long distances to look for water for our animals and for household use.

This situation is replicated in the nearby Lake Baringo and its environs. Years of poor land management practices – forest clearing on hillsides and destructive agricultural techniques[MK1]  – are largely to blame for these widespread and serious problems.

Since soil erosion in these two areas is mainly human induced, the question arises of what can be done to control it? Past research carried out in these areas has had little impact since results are often locked away behind pay walls in journals with technical language that does not make sense to the community.

To find solutions to this problem, I assessed what would be the best approach to engage community in controlling soil erosion in these two areas.

During the Youth session at the Global Landscapes Forum, I will tell you how, after careful thought and consultation with experts, youth and local community leaders, I came up with the idea to train youth in the community to use readily available, low cost mapping technologies to control soil erosion. The approach is simple, cheap and community-result oriented and the level of interest from the initiative has been overwhelming.

Maybe this approach could also work in your community? Listen in and participate in the discussions on November 16 – I would love to hear your feedback!

By Stephen Kibet

Stephen Kibet will share his success story at the youth session to be held at the Global Landscapes Forum at 9am CET November 16, 2013. More details here:

 If you can’t make it to Warsaw, watch the event online at