Women empowerment is key to social transformation
We travel to Ngusyini village, Kitungati sub-location, Kitungati location, Kitui rural sub-county, Kitui county and meet 42years Syomiti Nzau a member of Eitu ma Ngusyini self-help group and is married to Daniel Mulei Musyoka who works as a casual labourer in Meru town. Together we are blessed with two children namely Stephen who is 16 years old, currently in form four and the second is Samuel Nzau, 13 years old, in form one in a nearby day secondary school.
Syomiti tells us
“My sister, Kavutha Mulei passed on in 2018 leaving behind 2 children; whom I take care of. The children are in high school. We rely on maize, green grams and sorghum farming in our 5-acre piece of land which we inherited from our parents. In addition, we keep poultry and goats to boost the little income we get from crop farming.”
In 2018, during a baraza to identify existing vulnerabilities and capacities among community Eitu ma Ngusyini self-help group was selected to form Kitungati development community-based organization. Since then, ADSE has trained us on leadership, good agricultural practices, soil and water conservation, village saving and loaning, environmental conservation, poultry and livestock production, child protection, resource mobilization and proper hygiene and sanitation practices. The Adoption of the gained knowledge and skills on good agricultural practices especially use of certified seeds, timely land preparation, soil fertility management, pest and disease control have resulted to increased production in my farm.
During the October, November, December rain season 2019, I applied the knowledge gained resulting to an increase from 1.5 bags of maize, 0.5 bags of green grams and less than 50 kilograms of sorghum to 14 bags of maize, 5 bags of green grams and 4 bags of sorghum. I sold half of the produce to pay school levies and invested the rest in village saving and loaning.
My savings in the VSL have increased enabling me access credit to invest in farming and meet other household demands. Access to basic necessities like food and clothing was a challenge in my family before ADSE started working with my group. My family relied on subsistence farming in the 5-acre piece of land which was characterized by meagre returns due to erratic rainfall, limited knowledge on modern farming practices and poor poultry and goat breeds which are susceptible to diseases, have slow growth rate and less preffered in the market. The average production was 1.5 bags of maize, 0.5 bags of green grams and less than 50 kilograms of sorghum which was hardly sufficient for the family.
Syomitis’ children were on and off hospital due to frequent ailments resulting from poor eating habits due to limited access to balanced diet and poor hygiene and sanitation as they had no pit latrine. This drained the little household income exposing them to extreme suffering. The performance of the children in school declined, as they spend better part of schooling time at home due to late payment of school levies and lack of lighting at home during the night to enable them do their school assignments.
“The interventions undertaken by ADSE have transformed my life and that of other residents in Kitungati location. Increased production in my farm after adoption of the knowledge and skills gained on modern farming technologies has necessitated my family to afford 3 healthy meals in a day throughout the year. This has reduced frequent ailments in the family” Syomiti tells us smiling
In addition, Syomiti has constructed a closable Sato pit latrine reducing food contamination by flies. Her children no longer register school abseentism because she uses the income earned from the sale of surplus farm produce to pay school levies on time. She also bought solar lighting to enable the children undertake school assignments in the evening thus restoring the forgone glory of good performance in school among the children.
The group attempts to venture in poultry keeping were futile due to high chick mortality, pest and diseases, and high cost of commercial poultry feeds as they had inadequate knowledge on local poultry feed formulation. Knowledge and skills gained on poultry management have enabled us reduce chick mortality and poultry deaths resulting from diseases. The chicken provide eggs for the family and surplus for sale and manure from the poultry is used in the farm to boost soil fertility. Access to stable food supply has rekindled joy that had faded away in my family due to anguish poverty.