Monthly Archives: February 2018

Improving food and income security through farmers groups

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.

Niyonama (left) and Joseline during the February 2018 harvest at Choro farm

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.

Community members in Mara trained on Saccos

Over 30 members of Mara Division Development Programme (MDDP) have been trained on formation and running of a Saving and Credit Co-operative Society (Sacco).

During the training in Narok town held on August 11, members of the Community-Based Organisation (CBO) from Mara, Narok County, were taken through the advantages marketing of their products through co-operatives. “It is difficult to sell your cows as an individual farmer, unlike when you sell as a group.  It is easier for middlemen to take advantage of individual farmers, but they cannot do that to a group,” said David Langat, a Narok County co-operative officer, as he elaborated on the enhanced marketing through cooperatives.

“We are ready to form a co-operative. We need to work together as a team,” said Wilson Kedienye, a community member from Mararianta sub-location. Participants were given a chance to raise questions that Mr Langat and Dr Kamau Githaiga, AAH Kenya country programmes manager, responded to.

The other advantages of a Sacco that the participants were informed about are easy access to veterinary services, ability to access loans from various organisations, such as banks.

AAH Kenya has in the past worked with MDDP on education and maternal health. Through the Mara Entrepreneurship and Market Development (MEMD) project that started in January 2015, AAH Kenya will build previous engagement with the communities and the county government. The two-year project, funded by Bread for the World (BftW), Germany,aims to develop an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ in community members in the Mara area, in order to strengthen their resilience and capacity to lead their own development.

Refugees benefit from farming of vegetables

The young man is ecstatic after a bumper harvest of vegetables and believes there are prospects for a better one.  It is proof that refugees can successfully farm, and as a result, better their lives.

Paul Kiza is among of 300 farmers being trained on drip irrigation in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County. The farmers are engaged in farming of more than ten types of vegetables.

The 25-year-old man is a member of Umoja ni Nguvu, Utengano ni Udhaifu group that has planted traditional vegetables such as terere (amaranth) and eggplant. The group has 27 members.

Kiza, 25, says in May they sold vegetables and made Ksh40, 000 (about US$404) profit. These include amaranth, cow peas and cassava leaves and okra. He comes from North Kivu, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and has lived in Kakuma Refugee Camp for eight years.

The father of two says there is a ready market for vegetables, adding that irrigation will ensure they have sufficient water. “In the past our crops would dry due to inadequate rainfall, but we cannot plant all year-round.”

Peter Cheptumo, a project officer with AAH Kenya, says the new technology is aimed at improving production for the farmers. The setup has a solar pump that is used to propel water from a shallow well; then it flows through gravity to the farms that are owned by groups.

“We are supporting the refugees to farm in groups in order to benefit from economies of scale. It is about transforming their farming into an agri-business enterprise,” Cheptumo says.

He adds that the project is working with 17 groups that have a total of 300 farmers. The farming enterprise is part of Kakuma Refugee Assistance Programme (KRAP). The initiative, undertaken by AAH Kenya and funded by UNHCR, aims to enhance self-reliance and sustainable livelihoods of 4,080 refugees in Kakuma Camp, Turkana County.

This is through the development of such models that will address resilience, safety net and consumption; skills enhancement, employment opportunities and enterprise development.

Fish pond construction kicks off in the Mara

AAH Kenya is currently constructing a fish pond in Narok County, Mara Division. This is part of AAH Kenya commitment to work with the youth of Mara Division by exposing them to opportunities to not only enable them to produce more food but also earn more money; mainly by shifting their minds so that they can identify business opportunities beyond the livestock keeping.

This project will begin in two locations i.e. Leshuta (House of Love Children’s home) and Nkoilale with the hope to extend to other areas in the future.

Group adopts modern farming method

In most cases, refugees are construed as needy and desperate and thus largely helpless. However, a farmers group in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County- known as ‘Umoja ni Nguvu’ (Unity is strength) – has defied this notion thanks to the introduction of modern farming technology.

Through this new innovation, farmers are provided with skills to draw water from shallow wells to irrigate small-scale vegetable gardens using solar pumps and drip irrigation system.

The group is benefitting from this technology through the support of AAH Kenya, in a livelihood programme. The support is through the Kakuma Refugee Assistance Programme (KRAP) aimed at promotion of self-reliance and improved livelihood among the refugee community. Through access to agriculture and business development, AAH Kenya established two operational model farms used as demonstration gardens for farmers using modern irrigation and improved crop production methods.

As a result, farmers are able to save over 70 per cent of labour costs for irrigation and watering of vegetable gardens which has proved valuable as opposed to manual hand pump irrigation method currently being used by farmers across the camp. Furthermore, through drip irrigation, water is also conserved, which is beneficial due to the low water levels in the area.

Nabigira Kandida, a Burundian and a mother of six children is happy; being a member of ‘Umoja ni nguvu’ and says their farming has greatly improved. The group’s farm has a range of vegetable that include kales, okra, tomatoes and water melons that were planted late August 2015.  Some of the kales and okra are at the initial harvesting stage.

“We are able to get fresh vegetables for our consumption to supplement dry food rations provided by the World Food Programme (WFP). Part of the crop harvests are also sold to generate income for the purchase of additional seed and pesticides,” remarks Nabigira, 30.

The group keeps farm records on all its farm activities that include purchases, crop harvests and income.