A few weeks ago, GVI successfully delivered comprehensive lessons to a group of ex-poachers in community of Kasaani on free range chicken farming as an alternative income generating project. The lessons covered topics including; disease recognition and treatment, general chicken care and raising chicks. The ex-poachers of Kasaani were very enthusiastic about the prospect of starting a free range chicken farming project as a means of generating sustainable alternative incomes, and also, a means of providing the community of Kasaani with improved access to affordable sources of protein rich foods. After the lessons were delivered, there was only one thing preventing the community of Kasaani from starting the free range chicken farming project – a well built chicken coop and fenced area to keep the chickens safe from predators and diseases. Things are not done by halves at GVI and that is why we returned to Kasaani just weeks later to help them build their first community run free range chicken coop.
A team of volunteers from GVI spent two weeks working side by side with a group of ex-poachers from Kasaani constructing a community run chicken coop. The chicken coop was designed by GVI staff and the community of Kasaani, constructed using local materials and local building techniques, and built in two weeks by an enthusiastic team of GVI volunteers and community members. The group of ex-poachers in Kasaani will also be provided with around twenty chickens to start the project.
The community will then be responsible for feeding the chickens, vaccinating against diseases and selling the eggs. The project is designed to be completely self sustaining; the community will use the profits from the sale of eggs to purchase more chickens and eventually, to build another coop which will replicate the first to keep broilers which they can breed to sell meat and also have chicks to replace the layers in the first coop.
Kidongs Eco-Tourism Centre helps a group of over 25 ex-poachers generate sustainable incomes via this environmentally friendly venture initiated by GVI and WSPA. The Eco-Tourism Centre offers guided tours to Kidong Hill, demonstrations of traditional activities of the Kamba tribe by the village elders, delicious meals served in the Ndovu Restaurant and a huge amount of history about the transition of the people from Kidong, Kasaani and Mahandakini from poachers to protectors of wildlife. Although the road to getting the Eco-Tourism Centre up and running has been a long one, the rewards are certainly worth it.
Kidong Eco-Tourism Centre is currently featured in the February edition of the East African Destination Magazine – a popular magazine advertising travel and accommodation options throughout East Africa. Publicity such as this is hugely appreciated by everyone involved in the establishment of the Kidong Eco-Tourism Centre and all of the ex-poachers engaged in the running of the project. Thank-you to everyone past and present who has supported the development of this project, and help to make it such a successful venture.
The posho mill (used to grind Maize into flour), funded by this project, has now been operating on a daily basis since May 2011. GVI volunteers and staff have been teaching the The Mahandikini Network for Animal Rights how to keep and analyse operational and financial records. This is to insure the group maximise their profits and maintain good accounting standards and transparency in their books. Lately the Mahandikini group have been focusing on building up a larger client base. At the moment their profit margin is high but the number of customers is low. This is in part, due to the current high cost of Maize in the area. They have started to advertise the Mill and Grainstore by placing signage on the road from Taveta to Nairobi which passes the Mill and also using the members to spread the word through local churches and other community groups.
In addition to supporting ex poachers with alternative livelihoods we work alongside the community to help with local development and support educational projects.
At the Shimoni primary school security has been a real cause of concern and an inhibiting factor in developing the school. Over recent times we have sadly seen theft of rain harvesting gutters, the roof from the reading banda and even doors from the classrooms. This was due to a lack of security meaning that anyone could wander into the school area. The school did actually have a fence on two sides and a wall on one although a lack of a complete wall left the school very vulnerable to theft. Now, due to the support of a generous supporter, we have been able to construct a wall covering the front of the plot and supply an entrance gate. GVI project manager Valerie McCormack explains the impact this has made:
'Thanks to this very generous donation we have begun work on the surrounding wall and there already is an amazing feeling of security within the school. Madam Hanna the head-teacher is so excited and even plans to start bringing a laptop onto the premises to start computer lessons as she feels it is finally safe to do so. The whole school is very grateful for the kindness shown. In the prize giving ceremony this week there are plans to give thanks for the support and dedication shown to the school. It is amazing how just one wall and a gate will make such a difference to the outlook of this school.'
Over the past two years GVI have been working with the community of Mahandakini to implement a comprehensive food security project in this rural village. The food security program in Mahandakini is designed to improve access to, and reduce the cost of, maize in the Mahandakini area. Through GVI’s Construction and Sustainable Development project a grain store and posho mill store have been built over the past nine months. The grain store will provide the people of Mahandakini with a place to buy and sell maize in the local community, thus eliminating transport costs they would usually incur whilst travelling to markets further afield. Moreover, because the grain store is designed as a not for profit project, people utilizing the store will receive better prices when they sell their maize to the store and subsequently receive lower prices when purchasing maize in times of food shortages in Kenya which push the price of maize up by over 100% in certain instances.
In January of 2011, the only remaining element required to complete the food security project was a posho mill. Posho mills grind maize into maize flour – one of the main staple foods in Kenya. And, the Mahandakini CBO are intending on operating a posho mill as one of the income generating projects in Mahandakini and as a supplement to the food security project. Specifically, profits from the operation of the posho mill be used to provide a group of ex-poachers in Mahandakini with sustainable alternative livelihoods, and, also to fund maintenance on the aforementioned not for profit grain store.
The mill is now fully operational for the community of Mahandakini.
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager