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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora