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 Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid