In the middle of Wajir town is a group of women who against odds are making a living in the dry and arid environment. Dahara Khalif, one of the group members who we met with others watering their small gardens in the cool evening light, summed up their project with a metaphor. “When a camel gives birth there is lots of milk, when it dries up, there is nothing to milk. In the same way, this project is like when the camel is giving milk. Life before was like when the camel is dry,” she shared. “Many of the group members came to Wajir town after the 1990 drought when they lost their livestock to drought.” she added.
The site is busy with women and some of their children collecting water from taps set in different locations to get water to the group’s gardens. There is laughter and giggling as I try to get some photos of the girls, boys, and some of the women as they water their gardens. Each woman has a small portion where they grow crops like kale, spinach, sweet potatoes and others are growing patches of grass. Dahara grows grass for goats. She sells each handful for Kenya Shilling 50 (about half a dollar) to people in the neighborhood for their goats. She also grows lentils and sugarcane.
All this is possible because World Vision, working under MWA’s Kenya RAPID program, has supported the community with an irrigation pump that runs on solar and the distribution pipeline. There is a well in the middle of the farm where water is pumped from. They also have two greenhouses which they use to collectively grow vegetables for the whole group’s economic empowerment.
They told us that before this, they had to draw water by hand using a rope and a bucket. Later they used a fuel generator to pump water, but this was expensive. They also had a windmill which later collapsed due to age.
According to Khadija Mahash, a mother of six (ages 3 through14), and one of the founding members of the Liban group, she has seen much benefit from this farm. She admitted to being able to feed her children nutritious food, sell some of it for income and also feed her goats with the grass she grows through irrigation. Her children also go to school. The women confessed that compared to women not in such a group, they are better off because they are able to supplement their family needs from the crops. Unlike the other women who solely depend on their husbands for everything, food, school fees, clothes, etc. “we are better than them by far” said Dahara.
Liban group incorporates people with disability. Arfon Khasim (60 years) is a grandmother with two grandchildren (7 and 6 year olds) belonging to her daughter who is out in the bush herding livestock. Arfon has piped water right by her portion to allow her to get water with ease. She lost her two legs from below the knee due to a car accident. But Arfon is not deterred by her disability, she struggles on for her grandchildren. She gets food for herself and the grandchildren from the small farm. She sells the surplus to pay for other needs. She gets about 2-3 dollars a day for her sale.
Any remaining stock, she consumes it to avoid losses. Such projects have a huge impact on the lives of children and their education, as it sustains their health and keeps them in school.
The group has already opened a bank account with credit Takaful Savings Cooperative (credit union) in Wajir town. As we spoke they had over USD300 which we learned is part of their plan to construct hay store through loan from Crescent Takaful Sacco.