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French Beans Changing Lives

Justus Musembi Mbithi  is among the youth aged 24 years in Kithungo Location ,Mbooni west sub-county in Makueni county.He grew in the dry areas of Mbooni where they traditionally depended on rain fed agriculture. . But the climate has changed, becoming much drier, and this method is no longer possible.  People were forced to collect water around 5kilometres from their homes. It took many hours every day that could be spent growing food or incase of children, studying. Due to climate change, communities in these dry areas joined force due to the acute shortage of water so as to address water issues, reduce poverty levels, improve their livelihoods and try to conserve their local environment. Water shortage created conflicts on the little available sources, a vicious circle of crop failure and seed shortage. Many families were unable to raise children's school fees, condemning another generation to a life without opportunity. An intervention of this started with sand dam followed by training on agricultural practices to give them a lifelong supply of clean water and food secure environment close to home.

After attaining his KCSE Certificate in 2008,Justus had no dream of pursuing with education there being no sources fees since food and clothing was a problem. He started planting French beans in 2009,it was an activity to keep the days going not to make profit. Water for small farming was the biggest problem, market being the second one.

French Beans farming was a big challenge due to unreliable rainfall and poor market. Justus used to get 15kgs (approx 1crate) per week for 45 days in a season, the market was very poor since a crate was ranging from 300-600ksh.This was money but could hardly cater for food and shelter. During dry season, Justus never stayed idle, he used to hunt for casual labour within the area (Digging terraces, construction works) and any other unskilled works in the area getting 200-250ksh per day to boost his living.

Later in 2009,Justus married his former school girlfriend to assist in home duties since he was living with his parents and they needed external care. He joined Kiioni SHG in 2010,joining the group, they were doing activities to change the environment, this included planting trees, terracing and improving road network.

Ukanga Community Based Organization was formed in 2011,its intention was to join groups and improve livelihoods in Kithungo location, Justus group was one of the groups forming the CBO.PVCA was done in the Location under UCCS support and Action plan developed. The major hazard was drought and in the action of intervention was to increase water sources and protect the existing ones among others.

Kiioni SHG proposed a sand dam in the hills of Kithungo and started mobilizing for the same. The site was on a hilly side and its accessibility was a challenge, early in 2012,the group and community under UCCS got support and were willing to provide local materials despite the transport challenge.

In the course of the year, the sand dam was complete and named under the groups name-Kiioni Sand dam. This was like gold to people leaving in the area, water not only for domestic use, but for farming was no longer a problem.

Musembi on his French beans farmMusembi on his French beans farmJustus Musembi Mbithi stopped going out for casual works and concentrated on French beans farming, together with his wife.

He increased his farm from an eighth of an acre to one acre, increased his seeds from a quarter kg to above 4 kgs and above every planting time.

Harvesting also increased at large from 1 crate to 15 crates per every single harvest, making a profit of 6000 to Kshs.10,000 per week depending on the market.

This motivated Justus and he was able to get enough for his family and his parents too.





After continuous successful harvest, in the course of the year 2013, Justus opened her wife  a small business in Tawa (Boutique and dress making.)The live of Justus and family started changing slowly by slowly.

He was living in a two rooms house locally constructed with his wife and two sons, he increased his house to five rooms as a result French beans income.

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