Dramatic floods in Kenya have devastated farms, the backbone of the economy.

MACHAKOS, Kenya (AP) — Martha Waema and her husband surveyed their farm, submerged by weeks of flooding, in despair. Relentless Rain Heavy rains overnight will cause water levels to rise to shoulder height across Kenya.

The couple had invested 80,000 shillings ($613) in cultivating maize, peas, cabbage, tomatoes and kale, hoping to earn 200,000 shillings ($1,500) from their three acres of land, but their hopes have been uprooted and dashed.

“I’ve been a farmer for 38 years and I’ve never seen a loss on this scale,” said the 62-year-old mother of 10 children.

Their economic security and optimism Kenya The government called it a “clear manifestation of extreme weather caused by climate change.”

The rains that began in mid-March have brought immediate danger and will continue to pose more risk. About 300 people died., Dam water levels reach historic highs The government then issued evacuation orders for residents in areas at risk of flooding. Demolish a house with a bulldozer For those who aren’t.

A country where the president has sought to make agriculture a stronger economic driver now faces a food security crisis and further price hikes.

The Kenyan government said the floods had destroyed crops on more than 168,000 acres (67,987 hectares) of land, or less than 1 percent of Kenya’s farmland.

As farmers count their losses – the total amount is still unknown – the floods have exposed what opposition politicians say is Kenya’s lack of preparedness for climate change and related disasters, and the need for sustainable land management and better weather forecasting.

Now Waema is digging trenches to protect what remains of his farm, on the plains of Machakos County, on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi.

Not everyone is sad, including farmers who were preparing for a climate shock.

In Olokirikirai, about 200km west of Waema’s farm, farmer James Tobiko Tipis, 65, escaped flooding on his 16-acre farm. He said he had been proactive in preventing landslides in the area, including planting crops on terraces.

“All the topsoil and crops that were previously planted were gone,” he said.

Experts said more Kenyan farmers needed to protect their fields from soil erosion, which is likely to worsen with further climate change effects.

Narok County Agriculture Officer Jane Kirui stressed the importance of measures such as terraced fields and cover crops that can absorb water.

Despite the current plentiful rains in rural Kenya, efforts to conserve water resources remain insufficient, experts say.

Professor John Gasenya of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology recommended practices such as crop diversification and emphasizing the soil’s natural water-retaining capacity.

“Soil remains our biggest water store,” he said, arguing that using soil wisely would require much less investment than big infrastructure projects like dams, but it needs to be protected by measures such as limiting deforestation, which has left parts of Kenya’s land vulnerable to severe runoff.

“We’re opening up land in new, fragile environments where we have to farm more carefully,” Gasenya said. “In our search for more food, we’re going into more fragile areas, but we’re not conserving the soil as much as we did 50 years ago.”

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