Development scholar, Amartya Sen once said that “poverty is deprivation of opportunity”. For the communities in Bungoma County poverty has been just this. In 2014, 60% of households were living on one meal a day, families lacked the capacity to educate their children and farmers produced low crop yields making close to no income. A vicious cycle of poverty was entrenched.
With the support of Addax and Oryx Foundation, however, Ace Africa’s Community Livelihoods initiative, which begun in January 2014, has started to reverse this vicious cycle. In fact, the project’s second year has ended with fantastic success and a ream of new opportunities have emerged for community members. The project, which has been underway in six towns in Bungoma County, aims to train 60 women’s groups in sustainable agriculture and income generating activities.
In 2015 153 group members were trained in nutrition and agricultural techniques, were given start up seeds, tools and techniques and every groups organic kitchen garden blossoms with high in nutrient fruit and vegetables and the potential to feed each household with at least two meals a day. The animal husbandry element of the project, which includes goat and poultry rearing, can be seen as particularly successful. Last year 10 groups consisting of 164 members took part in goat rearing and dairy production training, were given start up goats and on average were making KSh.1500 ($19) every 3 months through dairy production, mating services, and selling of kids. The 10 poultry rearing community members similarly made huge progress, with farmers selling their eggs and birds and making in total around KSh.3500 ($250).
As well as reaching community groups Ace aims to create improved nutritional awareness amongst the community at large in the hope that they can learn from their neighbours and peers sound techniques to improve their own food, nutritional and economic security. Over the course of the year Ace held advocacy events including World Food Day on 16th October. This was held at Florence’s farm in Cherendo Village whereby the theme of the event was the commercialisation of agriculture. About 400 people attended this event.
What is perhaps so special about this project is its focus on strengthening community capacity in the long term. Indeed, not only will the project improve people’s health and wellbeing this year and next, it will continue to enhance the richness of human life in Bungoma for centuries to come. In order to create this sustainable development the project includes additional elements including firstly, the training of groups in income generating skills in order to build household economic security. The women’s groups have been trained in business enterprise, food marketing, food storage techniques and have practiced and successfully sourced loans from local funding bodies. Secondly, the project includes training of community mentors in management, governance and leadership skills. These mentors in turn train the wider community in nutrition, agriculture and income generating techniques and will eventually manage the project without the support of Ace. This mentoring element enables the group members to participate fully in the project, define their own priorities and encourages a culture of communication, cooperation, alliance and social cohesion within the community.
With one year to go the project has already left a strong legacy of community self-sufficiency and everyday increases people’s capacity to improve and sustain their own food, income, health and wellbeing. Here in Bungoma, freedom and opportunity is not only the primary ends of development, it is also its principal means.
Ace Africa is featured in the latest Addax and Oryx Foundation 2015 report. To Read more please do take a look on page 28 here.
‘This goat project has given me a lot of money since given from Ace Africa. I have sold the kids, people give me money for mating services and also I am able to get manure’. Rose, dairy goat farmer from Kitinda.