Stacks of food are being laid out in a large clearing in Ngaremara village
In a large clearing in Ngaremara village, 11 stacks of food are being laid out.
Local men have arrived early to help unload the trucks. The 11 members of the Relief Committee are also here: one representing each village that is receiving a distribution today. Elected by their local communities, it is their job to ensure that the correct amount of food is delivered for their respective villages and that every family collecting food signs for what they receive.
As this is all taking place, the clearing starts to fill up with hundreds of community members from the surrounding 11 villages. Children play in the centre as their parents patiently wait in line to receive their supplies.
Before the distributions start, Romano Nasur, ActionAid field monitor, holds a community meeting. Romano is responsible for managing a number of these distributions across Isiolo. But this is no ordinary food distribution. Before it begins, Romano uses the opportunity of having the large group of people together to hold a meeting. He tells me that the subject of today’s meeting is the new election processes, but that these meetings are a common part of all ActionAid food distributions.
As we stand by and watch, Enrico Eminae, Regional Coordinator for ActionAid Kenya, explains what’s going on:
This is how we are trying to use the distribution of relief to link to longer term governance issues. It's an opportunity to make people aware of their rights.
“Next year the election processes will change. The number of people that are elected will change and the criteria for their selection will change. The people in this village need to be aware of this, so that they can vote.
“Romano is encouraging them to vote. He is telling them they need to look for the best leader and think about what they want from that leader – not just what tribe they are in. At the next distribution we’ll have a different topic.”
The main aim of this food distribution may be to provide the food that will save lives for another month. But at the heart of the process is the long-term development of this community.
Community participation and empowerment are in ActionAid’s DNA, and our emergency work is no exception. In a district where 58% of the population are looking to us to provide their daily meal, it couldn’t be clearer how important this is. By giving community members control over the process of food relief ActionAid is ensuring that we don’t treat the people like recipients and don't create dependency.