The Kenya Vetiver Network (KEVN) is now a fast growing network, coordinated by James Owino (Egerton University). Its members eagerly expanding their expertise from on-farm applications to infrastructure protection (riverbanks, dams) and water quality improvement (human and industrial waste water, leachate from waste dumps, soil rehab in urban and mining areas).
Vetiver is due to its infertility and absence of rhizomes a non-invasive clump grass (-8 on the PIER scale of invasiveness). Originally a wetlands plant from southern India. It was spread around the (sub)tropics for centuries, grown for its aromatic oil in the roots. Vetiver will grow under almost any soil and climate conditions; it can withstand drought, fire, overgrazing, complete submergence for months, infertile soils, pests and diseases, and it is tolerant to extremely high levels of toxins, heavy metals, nitrates and phosphates. Vetiver is present in Kenya for at least 25 years, and KARI research publications recommend its use as very effective for soil and water conservation.
Vetiver System simply integrates scientific principles of hydrology and soil mechanics, making use of vetiver's unique, outstanding characteristics: fine and deeply penetrating roots (tensile strength is 1/6 of mild steel), that form a dense, soil-binding root system, and stiff stems, reducing water runoff (by as much as 70%). When planted as a narrow, dense hedge, it allows water to spread and infiltrate, retaining sediment (up to 90%) behind the hedge; over time it creates a natural terrace.
Vetiver can protect steeper slopes against landslide: its roots function as 'a living nail in the soil' and its vigorous growth and evapo-transpiration reduce pore pressure; on slopes it improves soil shear strength by as much as 40%.
Its tolerance to extreme soil conditions, toxins and heavy metals, and a strong capacity of uptake of nitrates and phosphates make it very suitable for waste water treatment systems and soil rehabilitation.
The grass' characteristics and its increasing number of applications have been validated scientifically by researchers from dozens of countries across the world.
On landscape scale the application of Vetiver System was proven to be a major breakthrough: reducing erosion, improving soils, improving crop yields, enhancing groundwater recharge, and protecting infrastructure (unlike "hard" engineering approaches that weaken over time, VS grows stronger). VS works: its application requires relatively less external input, is lower cost, easier to apply (can be introduced to local contractors), and creates local labour opportunities.
The applications combined, providing significant economic, environmental and social benefits, are therefore a major contribution to sustainable land and water management.
What contributes to successful promotion of VS? Important factors are:
To address administrators, policy makers, planners and implementers' ignorance; on the technology; include high profile demos, large scale examples;
Leadership to be with vision and commitment;
To counter corruption bias towards high cost, high external input solutions;
To provide incentives for designers and contractors to design longer lasting bio-engineering solutions;
Engineers: to ensure that VS is included in (R&D on) standards and specifications; and
On-farm users and rural planners: introduce them to full scale of opportunities and economic benefits.
There is much scope for greater private sector involvement in engineering with VS, protecting infrastructure and treating waste water. Also government leadership is important: to support larger scale demonstration, using VS for Integrated Water Resource Management in river and lake basins.
The Vetiver Network International (TVNI) is a knowledge network with a large number of active members in over 100 countries, promoting worldwide Vetiver System (VS) for a sustainable environment particularly in relation to land and water. Active members include those working in government, research institutions, international development agencies, NGOs and not least the private sector and farming communities.
The Kenya Vetiver Network (KEVN) is now a fast growing network, its members eagerly expanding their expertise from on-farm applications to infrastructure protection (riverbanks, dams) and water quality improvement (human and industrial waste water, leachate from waste dumps, soil rehab in urban and mining areas).
At this time of climate change, and related increase in problems of floods and droughts in Kenya, significant measures have to be taken, and VS has a very important role to play in this. There is much scope for private sector and NGOs.
Products & services
Green building; Planning & design
Design of income generating projects using Vetiver products, manufacturing including:
Pressed mud-straw bricks;
Pressed non-timber fibre boards for furniture (tables surface, cupboard panels);
decorations, handicraft, ropes, air freshener using Vetiver roots;
Design of eco-friendly waste water treatment systems for households, schools, prisons, industries.
Description from Ecoprofile.net