Kenya - Community Development Worker, But currently a student an Mount Meru University
Primary thematic focus: Sub-national capacity development: local solutions, national strengths
In a Nutshell:
Public-private partnership in building local capacity is vital for sustainable community development. Every community has assets that can be invested for development, through local capacity building. Community leaders must be responsible and proactive change agents. Building women's capacity is vital for the achievement of sustainable community development.
Building peopleís capacity to initiate and implement their own development projects ensures sustainability, especially in Africa (Yousif, 2006). Capacity building enables people to apply indigenous knowledge and individual capabilities in initiating poverty reduction projects that are feasible in their local context (Sachs, 2005). This is because they know the best way to increase their purchasing power, which is vital in all other development efforts. Improved well-being ensures that children are well fed, thus lowered infant mortality rate, increased schooling time, and reduced child labor.
Empowering women promotes gender equity and improves maternal health. Some females who head their households, engage into commercial sex in order to earn money, acquire basic needs and support life. Therefore, empowering women reduces the spread of HIV/AIDS and improves the health standards of the people (Dean, et al, 2005). Women are close to the environment, like they fetch firewood, cultivate land to grow food-crops and fetch water for their household needs. Therefore, empowering women enables them to protect the environment for sustainable community development. Building womenís socio-economic capacities increases their purchasing power. This enables them to participate in trade and increases their mobility as they actively participate in local and the global market economy (Lee, 2006).
Tigania is at the periphery of the Arid Northern Kenya. Subsistence farming supports 75 percent of peopleís livelihoods (Kinoti & Kimuyu, 1997). These people rely on the unpredictable seasonal rains, which makes their lives to be vulnerable to droughts. Women are the most vulnerable group because, culturally, they have the responsibility to feed their households. They cultivate their household pieces of land for food production. Women are the ones who cook for their families; hence they have to look for firewood and water for their household needs. In Tigania, women are the ones cultivate land for food, get cooking firewood from trees, and fetch water from rivers and other sources; hence the potential stewards of the environment.
Within this context, community leaders surveyed the community assets and begun to educate women to form groups. Sensitization was done to register these groups as Community Based Organizations (CBOs), thus being able to benefit from microfinance services. Members of each CBO contributed little amounts of money as regular savings. Members used these savings to open a bank account for the individual CBOs. Through these accounts, the CBOs formed a fundraising campaign in partnership with the government of Kenya, local business enterprises, NGOs, and local community leaders to improve the women groupís financial capital. The groupís savings were joined into one big account, with an intention of forming a larger womenís sacco bank in future. This account continued to grow with time, as members continued to save more, and on 15th August 2009, the Tigania Womenís Sacco Bank (TWSB) was officially opened, in a grand fundraising event.
The TWSB offered low interest loans to members, which improved their capital base, thus high productivity and more earnings. This improved their purchasing power, hence promoting gender equity and improving household nutritional status. Members of TWSB were able to contribute up to 40 percent of their household earnings, thus reducing hunger and improving their standards of living. Women who headed their households were able to provide for their basic needs, thus, no reason to engage into commercial sex. This has reduced the spread of HIV/AIDS by 35 percent, among TWSB members.
Results and Critical Factors:
A survey revealed that children from families that were TWSB members were better fed; hence they attended school more regularly, instead of looking for cheap labor in order to feed themselves. This reduced child labor and increased the rate of childrenís schooling among the members. Healthcare was 20 percent more affordable, which reduced the impacts of malaria and other major diseases. Child mortality rate reduced by the same margin, and maternal health improved by 25 percent. Besides small scale farming, members of TWSB were empowered to participate in other productive activities like small-scale business ventures, hence reduced over-exploitation of the soils. They also reduced the rate of cutting trees in order to make charcoal, because now they had better alternative sources of income. Protecting indigenous trees conserved the natural water sources in the area. Therefore, as womenís capacity to increase their productivity was improved, they were better able to protect their environment.
Tigania Women Sacco Bank enabled its members to engage in trade activities, thus increasing their mobility and participation in the global market activities. Members of TWSB were able to buy and sell market goods, like maize and beans cereals, in order to earn some interest. This enabled them to stop being indoor housewives, and instead to trade within different market centers in, and beyond Kenya. This increased their exposure, creativity, and sharing of productive experiences for sustainable community development.
Name of Primary Contact Person: Julius
Title of Primary Contact Person: Community Development Worker