The ‘Women, Water & Leadership’ Mwihoko Women Project in Nakuru County, Kenya, was the first Appeal Project to launch in 2017. If you have been following the action then you will know that the project is surpassing expectations, safe in the hands of a committed and ambitious team, who have shown extraordinary progress. From its beginnings the project has focused on increasing food security and water access for women farmers in Nakura County – a transformative programme, that includes training and capacity building, to bring economic empowerment and support to women and their community. The Mwihoko Women work together on the project with the SI Union of Kenya and we are delighted to announce that the project is now being extended to the counties of Kisumu, Kilifi, Kwale, and Machakos, reaching more women with training, increased food production and economic and social empowerment.
In Nakuru, a total of 75 acres have now been planted and the community has been rewarded with an abundance of foods including maize, beans, an array of vegetables and herbs, sunflowers, pineapples, strawberries, bananas and a wide variety of trees. The first harvest from the project has reported on average, 15 x 90kg bags of maize per farmer, per acre – a significant increase on the previous harvest of just 5 x 90kg bags. Successfully overcoming the effects of erratic rainfall, the team has worked to beat all obstacles, and made effective changes to work around nature’s challenges and be resilient going forward. Improvements and adaptations were made to irrigation systems; two additional water pans were built; and additional water tanks were installed to ensure that rainwater collection and irrigation were maximised.
Progressing the project, soil testing was completed for an additional 25 farms, and vegetable seed nurseries were introduced. A greenhouse was erected to promote water smart farming and to help with climate moderation and pest control. A temporary kitchen was built complete with energy saving stoves, and the community centre, which has already undergone much refurbishment, is now equipped with fencing and security, which is also extended to the demonstration plot, which has previously been put in place.
Reports from the attendees suggest that the six-day farming clinic which was held for the women of Mwihoko at the Egerton Agricultural University, Nairobi, was highly successful, and they were taught much about the benefits of growing traditional vegetables, techniques for production, seed sowing and beekeeping, in addition to Agro forestry-principles, water management, the integration of trees in agriculture, together with Climate Smart Agriculture and farming business skills and finance. There were also on-location visits to farms for hands-on training.
The next exciting phase of the Mwihoko Women project is to extend the reach and educate and empower close to a further 200 women. Together with women from the Mwihoko community, the programme will expand to include working with the Jiinue Women group; Ne giwang’i Women Group; Tala Women Group; and the Kioneki Women Group, all situated in the Kilifi, Kisumu, Machakos and Nakuru counties. These additional counties face their own ongoing challenges to farming and living conditions due to very dry lands and the women have to spend a substantial amount of their time trekking or queuing for water.
Activities have commenced with the Ne giwang’i and Kioneki Women groups, and each member has received a water tank. The women farmers are being taught how to construct and use Chepkube energy saving stoves which are to be built at each homestead; a skill offering the women opportunities for income generation. Each of the women will additionally receive a solar lantern and will be able to install a small moist bed garden for vegetables for their own home consumption.
Be sure to keep up to date with the activities of the Mwihoko community, the Jiinue Women Group, the Ne giwang’i Women Group and the women of the Tala and Kioneki groups by following us on Facebook and Twitter.