In Nyarach village, near the town of Rongo in Kenya, there is a large population of widowed and destitute women who cope with HIV and AIDS in addition to the daily struggle of their poverty. Their income is sporadic, and they struggle to support their children. A baseline survey undertaken by Jitegemee, the Kenyan non-profit organisation administering this project, indicated that the majority of these women survive on less than a dollar a day, have no basic needs such as shelter and cannot afford medical costs. There are some very simple techniques that can be brought to bear on these problems, with great efficacy.
The most important first step to improving the lives of these 169 women is to give them the means to produce their own food, for themselves and for their families. To this end, Jitegemee‘s goal is to provide the tools and skills in order for women to build greenhouses and produce their own food. Combined with basic financial literacy training, entrepreneurship and marketing, the ambition is that these women can create their own food supply and generate additional income from the surplus. By supplying them with tools and materials, new farming techniques, technologies and training, Jitegemee aims to lift these women out of poverty and provide their children with a future.
The growing of produce has enormous potential to generate income in Kenya. Through the application of proper skills, the income that these women generate through their sales may be more than 5 times the initial amount they were earning before the programme. This opens many doors, including freeing their children to go to school and being able to afford health care. Furthermore, green produce grown with sustainable agricultural techniques is good for both the soil and the health of the consumers.
The Knock-on Effect
Once the initial cost of the project is sunk into tools, training and new techniques, the project very quickly becomes self-sustaining. This means the training can be provided to others and the project can continue to help other women living in poverty. The women are also being trained to help support each other, which adds an additional dimension to the sustainability of the project.