by Joan Ng’ang’a, ChildFund Kenya
Last year, Kenya’s Turkana region was the hub of disaster. The drought had bitten hard, as evidenced by the bare landscape, pocked with livestock carcasses and dried up vegetation. Families moved away from their homes in search of food, water and pasture for the livestock that remained.
Children and women bore the brunt of the disaster as malnutrition, illnesses and death became common. This was not the first drought experienced in the area. But it was the worst in many, many years. A strong community was brought to its knees by disease, hunger and desperation.
To survive, many families began to embrace farming as an alternative to a nomadic pastoral lifestyle. With agricultural training and support from ChildFund, women are farming huge gardens that now stretch along River Turkwell. And they are producing enough maize, sorghum, beans and vegetables to feed their families. These gardens have attracted settlements of traditional pastoralists. Through the sale of crops such as sorghum, household incomes and food security are increasing. Children are growing healthy and strong.
Excitement ran high in the community when Jumbe Sebunya, ChildFund’s regional director for East and South Africa, recently visited the garden projects. As they carried Jumbe shoulder high, the women sang of their past struggles. They also sang of the great joy they now feel as a result of the hard work and the change they have embraced.
Dedicated to their children’s survival,these resilient women are saving a generation.