Mwingi Cental, in Kitui County, Kenya locally referred as Ukambani, has over the years been known for recurrent droughts and crop failure. During last year’s drought season, Ukambani was the hardest hit and it wreaked havoc on many crops hence many people struggled through hunger.
As is the routine in the area, rainfall is inconsistent and therefore only one season yields enough rainfall to sustain consequential agriculture. Hence, reports of crop failure are what the main story is every year in the region, leading to high levels of poverty and food insecurity.
According to many people in the area, many families have been recipients of “Mulio” relief food from ActionAid and other organizations for many years. Unfortunately, relief food distribution is not sustainable and does not empower communities towards food security. It also makes people dependent on relief food every year.
It is for this reason that ActionAid International Kenya intervened to help the people of Ukambani, through Mwingi FFS to come up with a plan to shift from distribution of relief food to building self resilience among the people. A program known as Strengthening Community Livelihoods (SCL) has been used over the time to help farmers in the area make themselves dependent.They have trained farmers on how to plant their land in a manner that will get them better yields.
Strengthening Community Livelihoods
Strengthening Community Livelihoods program main project is distribution of drought tolerant seeds and high value seeds; millet, sorghum, dolichos and greengrams that is the cash crop in the area. Community members are required to be in groups, get a piece of land to qualify in getting seeds.
One proud beneficiary of the project Mrs. Nisetah Ndeu, who hails from Makuti village tells her story:“Through these trainings we have become better farmers in our respective groups .People in this area are used to planting maize only. We have now been taught how to plant other kind of seeds in between the maize."Says Mrs Nisetah
I received seeds from ActionAid and those that I have planted in my farm have not disappointed me so far. My sorghum is doing well so far. I now expect a variety of food not just the usual maize
Adds Mrs Nisetah.
The mother of three says that she is not worried about feeding her children, as was the case in the past. She says she is assured of availability of food, and not just food but one with nutritional value for her family.
My group contains 25 people, and through the trainings from ActionAid we have learnt to work with each other in the community, as a woman in that group I also feel empowered
Another beneficiary, 30 year old Margaret Kanini, says that she has seen wonders from the day she joined one of the local groups. They got trained by ActionAid through the SCL programme and they all have crops waiting to be harvested from their land.
There is a bright future ahead
I received seeds and as you can see my sorghum looks good in the fields. I am hopeful that I will have sufficient food in my farm to feed my family. I will sell some to get money to carry out other roles.
Clinging to her son, Margaret only beams with joy when she looks at her farm, she has a bright future for her son. Her mother-in –law, Mrs Agnes Kisio,54 years is inspired by her daughter, who she refers to as a hard worker. According to her, working in these groups has seen her daughter engaged for the better part of most days and she feels she will also be an indirect beneficiary.
I am grateful to ActionAid for being an eye opener in my community. If all of us embraced the new farming techniques and plant the drought resistant crops, together with many other nutritional value crops we will efficiently counter drastic effects of climate change.
Narrates Mrs. Margaret.
“ActionAid distributed high nutritional value seeds; cowpeas, greengrams, millet and dolichos ,seeds that people in this area did not value. They only planted maize,but now after we have trained them the response has improved and for the next harvest they will have enough food.”Says Serah Mwngi, Project Officer in Mwingi