Kenya Red Cross Empowers Farming Groups In Homa Bay And Busia County
Kenya experienced severe flooding after the March-April-May 2018 rains triggering a humanitarian crisis due to displacement of households, loss of lives and destruction of livelihoods across the country. The impact of the floods on livelihoods resulted into loss of income for the affected communities, negatively impacted their purchasing power resulting in deteriorating food security in the affected counties.
KRCS responded to the plight of people affected in Kenya with support from DFID (Department for International Development of UK Government) through British Red Cross. The intervention covered 14 counties in areas of Shelter, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, Health and Livelihood.
The livelihood component targeted provision of livelihood support to 2,170 most floods affected households in Kisumu, Busia and Homabay counties. The three Counties were the most affected in the region and are situated in the Lake Victoria Basin, bordering one another with Siaya County falling partly in between Kisumu and Busia.
During the dry season (before the flood), the groups living along the lake and river basins usually irrigate small pieces of land of approximately one hectare, where they grow both cash and food crops like tomatoes, vegetables and watermelon at small scale. The crop production through irrigation during dry seasons is seen majorly around Budalangi irrigation scheme, Kobuya and Kochia in Homabay County along River Miriu and Oluch Kimira Irrigation scheme.
In both areas, the communities have formed community farming groups popularly known to them as Community Interest Groups (CIGs) with membership between 5 – 6 households, where they come together to support each other during tilting of land, planting, manual watering and providing security in the farms. These groups lost assets including crops that were planted and were getting ready to be harvested.
Groups of vulnerable families were supported with joint assets towards the restoration of their livelihoods. The CIG’s which totalled to 16 (10 in Homa Bay county and 6 in Busia County) have been supported with agriculture tools like hand generators, knapsack pumps and agricultural inputs to restart their group farming activities. All other 160 households have been supported with water pumps, back pack sprayer, hand hoe and seeds (tomatoes, kale and onions). The water pumps are being procured centrally through the KRCS procurement process.
After the initial needs assessment that was conducted before the project was undertaken, the groups felt that apart from supporting them with the seeds, they needed water pumps the most which are instrumental in the irrigation of the farms. They indicated that the groups are well organized and would ensure accountability when it comes to handling of the equipment.
“The livelihoods recovery project is supported by funding from DFID through BRC and the support was delivered through unconditional cash transfers with a few items for irrigation given as in-kind distributions. Cash transfer interventions have not only helped revive local markets after disasters, but have also given beneficiaries the power to choose their own recovery pathways,” FredrickOrimba, National Cash Transfers Programme Officer at KRCS said.
Apart from the groups, individual households were further supported through the Cash Transfer programme. “I don’t know where I would have been if it weren’t for Kenya Red Cross. I had literally lost all of my belongings during the severe floods. I am partially blind so the evacuation process and salvaging my belongings was a challenge especially when the floods occurred late at night,” Consolata Oluoch an 82 year old farmer from Konyango Village in Wang Chieng Ward, Homa Bay County narrated.
Due to her poor sight and inability to walk over long distances, she didn’t manage to be evacuated to Osodo Primary School and instead was brought for food at her homestead by her children.
“I was very worried about my health. When I heard about Kenya Red Cross from my children, I was hopeful that I could restore my life as it was before. I have since received Ksh 13,000/= from the cash transfer programme which I used to buy farm tools including a hand hoe, Machete, three goats and seeds which will be planted in my small kitchen farm. I am forever for the assistance during these difficult times,” She added.