SANGO-Kenya was founded in 2020 by Director of Programs and Research Dr. Constance Gewa and Executive Director Kit Goldfarb. SANGO-Kenya grew out of 2017 research in food security conducted by Constance that found that 60% of households in Seme sub-County are food insecure. Seme sub-county is located in Kisumu County along the eastern shores of Lake Victoria in western Kenya. Other studies conducted in the area have shown that food insecurity is a hindrance to mother’s practicing recommended breastfeeding practices, which are important for healthy growth and development.
Constance and Kit returned in 2019 to meet with study participants and community leaders to present the findings of the research and gather feedback. SANGO-Kenya’s programs grew out of the feedback from these meetings.
The first pilot was conducted from January – June 2020 with 19 women smallholder farmers from the village of Kanyaloo in Seme. The program in 2021 includes 73 women farmers from the villages of Kanyaloo and a second village, Kadera. We plan to add 60 additional farmers from a third village, Kit Mikayi, for 2022.
MISSION: Alleviate Food and Nutrition Insecurity
SANGO-Kenya’s programs help alleviate food and nutrition insecurity by providing in-class training and field support for women smallholder farmers in nutrition and sustainable agricultural practices. Our programs focus on African traditional foods, which are high in nutrients and grow well in the challenging farming environment of Seme sub-County, characterized by sandy soils and a semi-arid climate, made even more difficult due to climate change. Participants in SANGO-Kenya’s programs also realize improved economic security from having to buy fewer vegetables from the markets and by selling their own surpluses.
The 1000 Days
SANGO-Kenya’s programs focus on the first 1,000 days, an approach driven by the recognition that the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and the first 24 months of her child’s life are critical for all aspects of the child’s health and development. Adhering to that focus, SANGO-Kenya provides nutrition and agriculture training for women who are of reproductive age (15-49) and are pregnant and/or have children, especially children under two years of age.
Our programs are community based. The concepts originated with Constance’s 2017 research in food and nutrition security and are developed with continuous feedback from community members and leaders, including partnerships with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, local women’s groups, and other community-based organizations.
Empowerment and Sustainability
SANGO-Kenya is committed to sustainability and empowering our participants and staff. All of our staff and trainers are from the area. We include leadership development in our training programs for all of the farmers. Additionally, we use the trainer of trainers model, providing additional training to Lead Farmers, who provide other farmers on-going support during the growing season. We recently included the use of smart phone technology, training local Community Health Volunteers and students to collect data using online forms instead of paper questionnaires.
Who we are
Constance A. Gewa, PhD, MPH
Constance, Associate Professor at George Mason University, is Co-Founder and Director of Programs and Research for SANGO-Kenya. She has 20 years’ experience in conducting food and nutrition research in rural Kenya, with a strong emphasis on dietary practices among mothers and children. She has established relationships with community members, local leaders, and government officials in Kisumu County as well as collaborations with researchers at Maseno University in Kisumu County. Her recent analysis of the food and nutrition security situation in Kisumu County showed that 60% of the households in the area were severely food insecure.
Constance has implemented a community-based nutrition education program in partnership with the Fairfax Department of Neighborhood and Community Services in Fairfax, Virginia. She has also evaluated and identified best practices of a community-based project aimed at creating a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable food system in Fairfax County.
Constance has participated in numerous evaluations of food security and nutrition projects including USAID’s SPRING (Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovation in Nutrition Globally) projects in Zambia and Rwanda. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters on nutrition and food security in peer-reviewed publications.
Kathryn K. Goldfarb, MPH
Co-Founder and Executive Director of SANGO-Kenya, Kit has more than 20 years’ experience in both not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. She and Constance have collaborated on several projects, including the community and government meetings in Kenya; study on overweight and obesity in Kenya; and a Link NCA scoping study for building and sustaining capacity. She has worked with NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa focused on women’s economic development, health systems strengthening, HIV/AIDS, and clean water. Kit has also worked in conflict situations with programs fostering cooperation through economic development and community-based programs for women and youth. In addition to her global health experience, Kit brings entrepreneurial, business, and management expertise to SANGO-Kenya, having worked with numerous start-up companies in the U.S. and abroad as well as establishing and serving as president of a communications consultancy.
Winnie Atieno Odhiambo
Winnie is SANGO-Kenya’s Project Officer, responsible for nutrition training and coordination of SANGO-Kenya’s field activities.
A nutrition officer in Seme Sub-County, Winnie’s experience includes: High Impact Nutrition Interventions (HiNi); Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN); Baby Friendly Community Initiative (BFCI) trainings promoting breastfeeding and optimal infant feeding; NAWIRI, a project in Maternal and Child Nutrition that trains mothers and fathers, encouraging male involvement to help ensure optimal nutrition for all family members; and management of acute malnutrition and nutrition-related medical conditions.
Winnie was a research assistant in Constance’s 2017 research that showed that 60% of the households in Seme Sub-County were severely food insecure. This study led to the founding of SANGO-Kenya.
Winnie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics from Egerton University. She is also a licensed member of the Kenya Nutrition and Dietetics Institute (KNDI).
Benta Oballa Bwana, Advisor
Benta is the Seme sub-county Home Economics, Gender, and Rural Youth Officer for the Ministry of Agriculture, Kisumu County. She has over 30 years’ experience in agricultural extension and community development work, both with the Ministry of Agriculture and civil society. Additionally, she has experience both nationally and internationally in gender and development issues.
Benta has extensive training in gender and development, food security and community nutrition, nutrition management for people living with HIV/AIDS, planning, programming, monitoring and evaluation, institutional management, sustainable community development, basic guidance and counseling, conflict management, and human rights of women and children.
Benta is the Founder and Director of Women and Children in Development (WOCH), a community-based organization. She is also Chairperson for Kenya Professional Association of Women in Agriculture and Environment (Nyanza) and
Advocacy Chair for Soroptimist International Club (Maseno).
Benta has a Bsc in Agriculture and Home Economics, Higher Diploma in Community Health and Development, and a post graduate diploma in Development Leadership.
Owen Calvert, Advisor
Owen has thirty years of experience in food security, food aid, and rural development covering 25 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. He has a sound understanding of vulnerability assessment methodologies, emergency food security monitoring/analysis, and incorporating findings into development and relief interventions. He has worked across many cultural settings and has strong field experience complemented by an increasing level of managerial and administrative responsibility, including 15 years at a senior level. Owen has worked with NGOs, the United Nations, and US Government contractors in both technical and managerial roles. He has a wide professional network and broad technical background and knowledge. He is currently working as the Project Manager for an FAO program in South Sudan. He has an MS in Agricultural Development and a B.Ag.Sc in Farm Business Management.
Agatha Christine Onyango, PHD, MSC, Advisor
Agatha is a senior lecturer at Maseno University in Kisumu, Kenya. She has 10 years’ experience conducting food and nutrition research in Kenya, with a strong emphasis on food security and maternal and child nutrition.
Agatha and Constance have collaborated on research studies in rural Kenya on indigenous vegetables, nutrition, and food security; childhood obesity; and an intervention study in Seme Sub-county. She has also been involved in research and community projects in East Kolwa and Seme Sub-county and surveys on food security in Marsabit, Turkana, Bomet and Kisumu Counties. These surveys involved assessment of agricultural practices, dietary diversity in households, and assessment of the nutritional status of women and children.
Agatha is trained as a national facilitator in Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN). She is also a facilitator of ENACT (Effective Nutrition Education in Action) designed by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She has authored numerous articles on HIV and AIDs, nutrition, and food security in peer-reviewed publications.
Agatha has an MSc and a PhD in Community Nutrition and Development from Maseno University.
Fredrick Obondo, Advisor
Fredrick is the Nutrition Coordinator and Enhanced Pediatric Care Officer for the Ministry of Health for Seme sub-County in Kenya. He has worked with Kenya’s Ministry of Health and the PEPFAR Program for the past ten years. He has vast experience and expertise in maternal child health services, management, and education, as well as HIV/AIDs care and treatment.
Fredrick has been involved in community nutrition work and promotion of household food security and integration of High Impact Nutrition Interventions (HiNi) with other related community development activities. He has expertise in community strategy policy, capacity building, monitoring, and evaluation skills. Fredrick has also been involved in research studies that focus on maternal and child health.
Fredrick is a licensed member of Kenya Nutrition and Dietetics Institute (KNDI). He has a diploma in Dietetics management and a Bachelor’s degree in Community Nutrition and Development from Great Lakes University of Kisumu.
Dominick Ohore Akoth, Advisor
Domnick is the Ward Agricultural Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture for the West Seme Ward of Seme sub-county, Kisumu County, and is in charge of all agricultural activities in the ward. For the past two years, Dominick has served as SANGO-Kenya’s agricultural advisor and trainer, providing in-class training and field support to the smallholder farmers participating in SANGO-Kenya’s food and nutrition security programs.
Dominick has over 35 years’ experience working as an Agricultural Extension officer.
He has worked as a trainer for the Farmers Field School and as a Group Facilitator for the Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion Project for Local and Up-Scaling (SHEP PLUS) in Seme sub-county. SHEP is an approach that trains smallholder farmers to increase income from marketing their crops.
Dominick has a Certificate in Agriculture and a Diploma in Agribusiness.