Holistic approaches to empower our farmer communities in Western Kenya

What is happening in our project areas in Bungoma County, Kenya in all the farmer projects?

More than 12000 farmers and their families are involved, organized in 12 cooperatives. It’s not just about sharing good farmer practices and animal health training sessions, but also about a better hygiene, a better water quality and environment- friendly activities, additional not farming related income generating activities, better local leadership, digital and business skills, parent centers and infrastructure.

In the past two years a lot of things happened. The close collaboration with our local NGO partner Core Health & Wealth who is steering and leading the activities locally, the involvement of social enterprises who bring in a lot of innovative and need based solutions, the alignment with the local authorities, but also very concrete employee engagement and most of all the engagement by the farmer families themselves has led to a status where the change becomes visible now and life starts to change for better.

More trees for a better environment

“These are pictures where we have started promoting tree planting at homes as part of our environmental management initiative. There is a huge need to increase forest cover, to provide wind breaks on farms to reduce soil erosion and to improve quality of air by increasing oxygenation,” explains a farmer.

“In 2 days we have distributed 2,000 seedlings to 200 families at minimal cost of ten shillings per seedling (€ 0.1). The initiative has prompted some young to start tree nurseries. We are running a campaign to have every household to plant at least 10 trees this year (5 fruit trees and 5 ornamental/wood trees). It is also a beautification initiative and a climate smart campaign to prevent desertification,” explains our local NGO partner.

Young men are encouraged to take actively part in all the activities and take over the leadership in implementing the ideas.

Mothers come with their children to ensure that children also learn the important lessons to ensure continuity…

More community members growing artemisia as part of the prevention initiative and ornamental plants that are also medicinal.

The hygiene promotion is ongoing

Another important topic is to develop further also hygiene practices – in the field and at home.

All activities are always done WITH the communities, not for them. This includes that there is a good understanding on why and how things are done.

For example, in the past months, a lot of raised stands for washing utensils and setting up simple washing points to encourage hand washing at all times have been implemented. This will prevent water born diseases and also help to prevent the Covid19 spread.

“The soap training that happened a few days ago will ensure that at every wash point we will have soap”, adds Chleophas, the NGO leader. “We are not depending any more on the good will of others to give us soap or on money to buy soap”.

Training for the young is important. They feel that they are also responsible for their hygiene at home. This will ensure continuity of the practice to all generations.

Sometimes simple solutions make a huge difference

The stones on the ground are simple soak pits to ensure proper drainage and avoid water overflow to other grounds. This technique is also being used to manage the rural bathrooms…

That is an improvised pedal so that one doesn’t have to touch the container hence reducing contamination and possible reinfections.

There is still a lot to do. The parent center has started to become a very established institution for mothers, fathers and children to give more quality time to each other. The income generation has grown – weaving, tailoring, dying brings some additional money that helps to have a better nutrition and to look at school fees. One of the next milestones will be the set up of real professional vocational centers.

There is still a lot to do. However, it is amazing to see how all the farmers actively engage and what has been achieved so far. There is hope now, hope that the future might look better and allow them to grow.

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