excerpt from a progress report prepared by Katherine Falk and Jonathan White
The Lwala Community Alliance is a non-profit health and development agency working in Nyanza Province, Kenya. Supported by Real Medicine Foundation Kenya and World Children’s Fund, the organization provides 33,000 patient visits each year through the Lwala Community Hospital. The mission of the organization is to meet the health needs of all people living in north Kamagambo, including its poorest. The hospital is part of a larger effort to achieve holistic development in Lwala, including educational and economic development.
One of the main project objectives is building the capacity of community members in income generating activities. Through a partnership with DIG (Development in Gardening), the Lwala Community Alliance is training farmers in agriculture and nutrition to maintain diverse, sustainable gardens.
Economic Development through Agricultural Training
Lwala Community Alliance’s partnership with DIG aims to empower young men and women through economic and marketplace development. DIG has facilitated access to business skills training, financial literacy, and technical training in organic vegetable production.
In Lwala, sugar cane is the primary cash crop and often one of the only viable sources of income for young men and women between the ages of 20 and 35. The low supply of sugar cane in the area has increased competition among the distributors, including young women who sometimes struggle to secure even a day’s supply and who often resort to risky sexual behavior to earn a living wage.
Beldine and Rose both married into jaggery (unrefined sugar) production families that are struggling to survive due to decreasing supplies of sugar cane to the millers in the area. Now, they both are members of a farmers group that was implemented by DIG in the Lwala community. They have learned the basic skills in local vegetable production and have received vegetable seeds from DIG through a cost-sharing model.
Beldine, a young mother and wife, is quick to express pride that she contributes to her family’s well-being, “before we were completely dependent upon jaggery production, which is in decline, but now I can feed my family without the sugar cane.” With the help of partner DIG, Beldine is growing local vegetables to supplement the wages of her husband, a machine operator at the milling site.
Rose, a 31-year-old mother and a wife, also grows vegetables. Her husband struggles to earn livable wages from the sugar cane milling sites to feed their family, but now he hopes to learn more about growing vegetables from his wife. “She is a good teacher,” he says.
Both Beldine and Rose are optimistic about their futures. As Beldine says, “I believe I will be successful. I can feed my family and now avoid the abuse found with the sugar cane industry.”
Additional Program Highlights
• 10 model farmers planted vegetable gardens that will be harvested in January and February, when vegetable supply is typically low. The same farmers received training on soil fertility and soil management techniques.
• Farmer field training began with 4 newly identified support groups (126 members total). Tree nurseries were set up with 10 pupils in their home gardens. DIG staff conducted follow up with 12 pupils who have home gardens and provided training on record keeping.
• Maurice, an intern in the Economic Department, was trained by DIG as a Trainer of Trainers on organic agriculture; he will act as the lead trainer working youth groups in North Kamagambo.
• A North Kamagambo Youth Representative meeting was held in November. 14 members attended representing the 8 youth groups who wish to have Lwala Community Alliance assist with seed capital in loans with flexible payment periods.