Niyomana Odede and Irokoze Joseline are refugees from Burundi who settled at the Kakuma refugee camp in 2011 and now living in Kakuma1 Zone 3 Block 5. The conflict in Burundi in 2011 forced them to flee to Kenya in January 2011, travelling by bus from Burundi through Uganda for 7 days and entered Kenya through Busia. With their new status, they had to quickly find ways to fend for their children – Joseline has two children aged 3 and one-and-a-half years while Niyomana, 22, is married with one child aged 1 year.
In 2017, through community mobilization conducted at the Choro farm by Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), they learnt about opportunities for refugees and members of the host community to participate in farming activities at the Choro farm. They joined the UBUMWE farmers group which has 10 members, all Burundi nationals living at the Kakuma refugee camp. There are 7 male and 3 female in the group. “I was doing dress making while Joseline baked cakes before we took up farming. It was a big shift for us because we are now not only involved in farming, but Josefine is the Treasurer of UBUMWE,” says Niyomana.
They plant crops such as amaranth, cowpeas, murere (traditional vegetables) and spinach. The value of their total harvest in January 2018 was 168.5kg of amaranth, cowpeas and spinach valued at KES. 17,450.
They sold their produce at ‘Mama Mboga’ shades across Kakuma1 to 4, and also had farm gate customers from Kakuma refugee camps and Kakuma town. Niyomana and Joseline realized a profit of KES. 6,980 (about 40%) of the total income. (This is the first round of harvest since UBUMWE was formed in May 2017).
There are 35 other farmer groups at Choro farm since it began operations, and at least 350 farmers participating in vegetable crop farming under drip irrigation technology. They are mainly from Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya (host community) and Somalia.