I am just back from Kenya. It was a busy and productive trip and, as always, there is so much to write about.
Many of you have likely read that climate change is increasingly affecting Kenya and other countries in the region and elsewhere. Indeed, this year, Kenya has experienced its worst drought in 40 years.
Where we work, extreme drought followed by floods has affected every farmer, and it was the topic of every conversation. By everyone’s account, 2023 has been extremely difficult, making it more difficult to raise and harvest enough crops to maintain food and nutrition security for themselves, their children, and all those dependent on them.
The training, education, and field support SANGO-Kenya provides participants is more critical now than ever!
When I am in Kenya, Winnie, Evance, Peter, and I meet as many farmers as possible. We have very open discussions about what is working, what challenges the farmers are facing, and together, we discuss potential ways SANGO-Kenya can help. We share all of this information with our partners there as well as with Connie, SANGO-Kenya’s co-founder and Director of Programs and Evaluation, and our advisors and board members.
The farmers are so open. We always learn so much — including how resourceful they are!
One of the farmers with whom we met this trip was Anastacia, a second-year farmer in SANGO-Kenya (pictured above and below). All of the SANGO-Kenya farmers are impressive, and Anastacia is no exception. She’s a serial entrepreneur. A widow, she does most of the work herself and is always finding new enterprises — whether it is selling cassava (a highly nutritious and versatile root vegetable that can be consumed by boiling, frying as chips, and drying and grinding for porridge) or ground nuts (peanuts) or cotton, Anastacia works endlessly. She has been so successful, she has put her daughter through college and is now paying for her nephew’s education.
Although she struggled this season, she didn’t miss meals. She preserved cowpea greens (black eyed peas, one of the first vegetables to be harvested), and relied on the multi-story garden she had made last year.
“My multi-story garden is now one and a half years old and I’ve been able to manage it through droughts because it only requires little water, which can be grey water [water that has been used for household purposes such as cleaning or cooking] or saline water [much of the water from bore holes is salinated]. I love it because it’s very convenient.”
Winnie, a trained nutritionist, added that “Introduction of multi-story gardens has been a game changer for many of the SANGO-Kenya farmers. They are very easy to maintain and they allow the farmers to get vegetables throughout the seasons, even when they experience different shocks.
“Additionally, vegetable preservation, which they embrace fully, is another technique that has helped the farmers to always have vegetables. The farmers report that as a result of consuming so many vegetables year-round, the number of trips to the health facilities is continuing to reduce, especially for the children.”
Anastacia is indeed an inspiration — as well as an impressive farmer, entrepreneur, businesswoman, mother, and aunt. She — and others — have inspired us to add more training and alter our approach to strengthen the resilience of farmers such as Anastacia even more.
But more about that later…
A Name that Reflects and Speaks to our Farmers
Dholuo is the local language of the Luo tribe, which comprises the majority of the people where we work. As a community-based program, one that is shaped by the farmers with whom we work, we wanted to be known there by a name that reflects the energy, spirit, and determination of the Luo women farmers. As most of you know, SANGO-Kenya’s co-founder, Dr. Constance Gewa is from this area. She is Luo and grew up speaking Dholuo. In reflecting on the program, the participants, and our philosophy, Connie thought of the name “SANI KENYA”. SANI is the Luo word for “now”, implying urgency. When we introduced the name to the farmers, they applauded. They felt proud that they are part of a program whose name reflects them.
We will continue to use the name SANGO-Kenya in the United States and countries outside of Kenya. However, we are also proud we now have a Luo name in Kenya
SANI KENYA farmers, Winnie, Evance, Peter, Constance, and Kit
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Write me! I love hearing from you! kit@SANGO-Kenya.org