News / Africa

    Helping Kenya’s Turkana People Help Themselves

    A young boy walks away with his food from a government sponsored feeding center in central Turkana, Kenya, August 30, 2011
    A young boy walks away with his food from a government sponsored feeding center in central Turkana, Kenya, August 30, 2011
    Joe DeCapua

    Times are hard for Kenya’s Turkana people. They rely on aid to survive, having suffered through prolonged drought, malnutrition and loss of livestock. But a U.S. agency is hoping to change that by providing the Turkana with grants for home grown food security projects.

    Turkana is Kenya’s largest district, some 77,000 square kilometers in the northwest of the country. It’s semi-arid and even in the best of times has little rainfall. In recent years, it practically hasn’t had any.

    “The persistent drought continues from year to year, like all of last year it only rained in March. But from March all the way up to December there was no drop of rain fall. So the communities have to start moving from one location to another one, looking for pasture,” said Timothy Nzioka, regional representative for the U.S. African Development Foundation or USADF.

    The Turkana are pastoralists and livestock is their trade -- or was.

    “Most of the animals end up dying because of lack of pasture and water,” he said.

    To make matters worse, Turkana is surrounded by communities in neighboring countries, who wage war through cattle raids.

    Nzioka said, “The Turkana people either are messed up by the people from the north, the people from the east, the people from the south, people from the west.”

    Farming not an option

    “Due to lack of rainfall then they have very little options to grow their own crops. So, 75 percent, according to current statistics, rely on relief,” he said.

    Earlier this year, the African Development Foundation launched the 5-year, $10 million Turkana Food Security Program. It’s providing grants for irrigation, livestock and fisheries programs.

    In the long run, said Nzioka, grants can be more effective than providing aid.

    “ADF works directly with the grassroots. We do not work through other international NGOs. We don’t pass our money through the government, but it goes directly to the local producers.”

    Preventing white elephants

    He said it’s important for communities to own the projects, adding, if the projects are operated simply to satisfy donor expectations they will collapse once the donors leave.

    “That is why we have many white elephant projects across Africa, where donors went in and did it for the communities. As soon as the project ended nothing continued because the communities are not empowered. The communities are not in charge,” he said.

    The foundation designs projects to help increase local incomes and create jobs. In turn, those who benefit often contribute so others may take part.

    Talking, listening

    USADF talks directly to the people.

    “We do not go and talk to the politicians. We do not go and talk to the provisional administration. We just don’t go and talk to the chief. But we go and announce our presence and the need to talk to the community about their own challenges facing them,” said Nzioka.

    But talking’s not enough, he said, there is a need to listen.

    “These people know the problem they’re faced with. They have the solution, but they lack the resources. ADF is going in to provide those resources, but must listen to them,” he said.

    Usually, in the end, people on all levels get involved and the community decides who’ll lead the project.

    This has been a record year for the U.S. African Development Foundation, which operates in 21 sub-Saharan countries. It’s provided 250 new grants worth nearly $26 million. It says those grants will generate more than $60 million in additional income through 65,000 new and existing jobs.

    You May Like

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora