Facts about Kenya
Kenya’s population is estimated at 39 million people and is divided into 42 ethnic groups. About 80% of the population derives its livelihoods from agriculture, livestock and pastoral activities. Most Kenyans are subsistence farmers, with women making up 80% of the farmers on small plots of land. 60% of the population is below the poverty line. (US AID)
What we are doing on the ground in Kenya. December 2012 - ongoing
Kids Are Sweet International
is teaching and training permaculture, FMNR (Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration), drought resistant systems, agroforestry, food forest designs and appropriate technologies to farmers, widows and youth in rural areas of Kenya. Addressing both food and water security and long term sustainable solutions is crucial in creating healthy environmental, social and economic conditions that move away from the conventional model of “aid” dependency to self-reliance while restoring natural balances in the environment. It is a model for both environmental and financial sustainability replacing one of aid-dependency. Empowerment of farmers as change-makers, stewards of the environment and agents of their own development are some of the key objectives for rural farmers that will assist them in becoming more self reliant.
In addition to teaching and training Kenyans, international students, and humanitarian aid workers, KASI
is setting up several demonstration permaculture and FMNR sites in Kenya, at schools, health clinics and small farms. Currently, we are working on the island of Rusinga, Lake Victoria and Maukeni, two and half hours north east of Nairobi.
Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria. Kenya.
|Rusinga Island, Kenya|
Rusinga Island, located on Lake Victoria, Kenya, is less than 100km south of the Equator. It is 46 square kilometers and has a highly dense population of 35,000 people. About thirty years ago, the population was only 5,000. The majority of the people are from the Luo tribe. Rusinga Island is one of the poorest areas in Kenya with over 50% of the population in extreme poverty. It is estimated that 34% of the population on the island has HIV/AIDS, one of the highest in Kenya.
Competition for resources has led to complete deforestation which has led to soil erosion and drought conditions. Land degradation, over grazing, deforestation, droughts, mono-cropping and depletion of fish stocks in the lake are visible everywhere. Once a tropical island, Rusinga is now a semi-arid island. Food, water and nutritional insecurity along with HIV/AIDS and malaria is predominant throughout the island.
Kids Are Sweet International
has partnered with PRI Kenya
(Permaculture Institure of Kenya) and VVP
, Village Vocations Programme
, a local NGO on Rusinga Island. We are providing technical training in permaculture and FMNR along with trainings on group dynamics, leadership, gender equality and micro business skills. Three demonstration sites are being set up to function as central learning hubs for sustainability in the community.
Training local educators in permaculture and FMNR enables farmer to farmer learning and mentoring. Providing alternative and ecologically sustainable livelihood opportunities are essential elements to the projects. These pilot projects will serve multiple functions as demonstration sites, training and educational centers, research centers, in addition to a longer strategy of addressing land degradation, food and water insecurity, creating sustainable livelihoods while promoting organic trade development both locally and internationally. Climate change is also an important component of all of our projects. And because this is about inclusion, not exclusion, we are coordinating and working with the District Commissioner, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Forestry.....moving forward, all together.
Tom Mboya Health Centre, Rusinga Island
|Nurse Regina and Lesley Byrne|
Rusinga Island has a high prevalence of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Food insecurity exacerbates the situation by forcing locals to eat less and to eat cheap unhealthy food. The resulting malnutrition lowers patients’ immune systems. Currently, the health center is buying produce to feed patients which is both costly and limited to the cheaper foods that are not as nutritious. Water is also another issue because the clinic is currently buying their water to fill up their tanks for their clinic.
Tom Mboya Health Centre has enough land to start gardens and to grow their own food. In order to provide resilient long-term improvements in food security and nutrition, we are starting a communal permaculture farm inside the clinic. This will provide a more sustainable and low-cost benefit to the clinic by producing enough nutritional fruits and vegetables for their patients. A water pump and other methods of water harvesting will be implemented so that there is adequate water for the clinic and for the gardens. Through VVP, our lead local facilitator, Dennis Siroh, and a retired local nurse, Regina, will be conducting a series of workshops for the clinic staff, support group, patients and surrounding communities on health and nutrition, medicinal plants, creating permaculture nutritional gardens at home, and water harvesting. By teaching and training others in the clinic, including the patients, one of our objectives is to give meaning back to the patients lives by creating a “No Stigma” healing garden and to have the patients with their support group work in the garden and at the clinic’s farm. Permaculture is about Earth Care, People Care, and Share of the Surplus, and this model site will give meaning and dignity back to the patients and to their families.
Demonstration Farm Site
|Lesley with farmers|
In permaculture and FMNR we teach ecological agriculture and agroforestry. Growing diverse nutritional foods that are 100% organic (chemical free), NOT GMO seeds or monoculture, we are able to go back to a natural system based farming which has been in existence all over the world for thousands of years. Over 80% of farms in the world are small rural farms that have the capacity to provide enough food for the families and surrounding communities. Ecological agriculture can regenerate the land by building and maintaining soil fertility, preventing soil erosion, which will increase the capacity of the soil to hold water again so we are able to restore the ecological and environmental balance necessary for a healthy resilient productive farm without the use of chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides. Farmers will not be forced into debt buying seeds every year while their soil is being destroyed from mono-cropping and heavy chemicals. Because the system is polyculture, not monoculture, a farmer is able to harvest several times during the year, have better yields, more diverse yields and because it is a more holistic integrated approach, small farmers are able to have healthier crops, while building back a healthier soil, topsoil and create a more diverse environment for necessary wildlife and insects, such as birds, bees and natural predators that will keep things in balance.
A series of workshops for the farmers will start in March, 2013. Earthworks and water harvesting with swales, check dams, net and pan systems, etc. will be conducted both at our first demonstration farm site and at the health clinic. This will be followed with workshops, soil regeneration, composting, mulching,companion planting, and integrated pest management. We will also be establishing several food forest systems at a farm site, health clinic, and school.
|Farming Workshops, Rusinga Island, Kenya|
Thirty students, 50% women and 50% men, mostly farmers, have been selected through group discussions to be trained in permaculture and FMNR methods that can be replicated on their own farms. In December of 2012, Lesley taught a Permaculture Design Course to 45 students, some of which were international students, but our primary focus was to the farmers on Rusinga Island. The course was attended by farmers selected as representatives of local support groups, women’s groups and self-help groups from three different locations on Rusinga Island.
Throughout this year, in addition to hands on training and technical workshops in permaculture and FMNR, group development workshops will also be integrated into our projects. This will allow a natural progression of the group to work together and to develop leadership skills in the community. Small business training will also be offered to aid the development of the group in establishing sustainable livelihood alternatives that are also ecologically sound.
School Demonstration Site.
A primary school has been selected to be a demonstration site for permaculture, with a specific focus on the school’s needs which is a garden system that can help feed the children and a small food forest that will bring in extra funds to feed and clothe those orphans who attend the school. We will be conducting several workshops at the school. One of our students from the December 2012 PDC course is both a farmer and a school board member and will help to coordinate all activities. There is a strong support group within the school comprised of teachers and parents who will be in charge of overseeing the day to day activities of the gardens and food forest within the school grounds. It is important for students to participate giving them the skills and knowledge to share with their families, bridging the gap between generations existing now and into the future.
STAY TUNED THERE IS MORE TO COME! I WILL BE GOING BACK TO TEACH AND TRAIN AND ASSIST IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE DEMONSTRATION SITES AS KIDS ARE SWEET INTERNATIONAL IS FUNDING AND ACTIVELY INVOLVED WITH ALL STAGES OF THESE PROJECTS. I WILL BE TRAVELING BACK IN APRIL AND MAY AND WILL HAVE MORE TO REPORT AND SHARE.
|Kaswanga Primary School, Rusinga Island, Kenya|