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Help Women in Kenya Confront Climate Change

by MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Org.
Help Women in Kenya Confront Climate Change
Help Women in Kenya Confront Climate Change
Help Women in Kenya Confront Climate Change
Help Women in Kenya Confront Climate Change
Naiyan finishing a jiko stove.
Naiyan finishing a jiko stove.

Land and water equal life to the Indigenous Peoples of Kenya, and without it, the community struggles to thrive. Luckily there are women climate defenders like Naiyan who protect their local communities. Naiyan has creatively and effectively used alternative ways to preserve the environment. She implements the use of a jiko stove, which uses 80% less firewood than traditional stoves, to allow Indigenous women to help their families cook meals and stay warm, while saving resources.

Thanks to your support, Naiyan has helped distribute 100 jiko stoves. At an exchange between Indigenous women who live in remote communities, Naiyan demonstrated how to make the stoves, and gave some away to women who attended. Now these women have stoves that are more environmentally friendly. What’s more, they’re taking what they learned from the demonstration and teaching others in their communities how to make these stoves. By sharing her knowledge across communities, Naiyan is taking her leadership to the next level.

Deforestation is a major challenge Naiyan and her community face. Forest cover is one of the easiest ways to adapt and mitigate climate change impacts. Naiyan believes that trees need to be planted to create an environment conducive to rainfall so that they never experience drought in their village again. In organizing with local women, she has helped plant over 100,000 seedlings since 2009! Tree nurseries protect clean water, help reforest the land and protect biodiversity. The planting of trees allows women to harvest products including pawpaw, mangoes, oranges and medicinal plants, which they can use to feed and care for their families and sell for additional income. Naiyan’s work is making all this and more possible.

Along with Indigenous women from nearby villages, Naiyan started an initiative called SEED SISTERS to exchange seeds for vegetables, beans, medicinal plants, flowers and trees that are more resistant to a dry environment. As a result, an Indigenous group from Transmara decided to send food from their next harvest to women in West Pokot who were suffering a severe drought in their community. After the exchange, a group of Maasai women, who had visited West Pokot and learned about a poultry project, launched their own poultry initiative to generate income for basic needs and send their children to school. Naiyan has not only shown leadership in the SEED SISTERS initiative but has also been a constant source of inspiration for peer rural women to support each other.

Due to climate change, grazing land and water for cattle are scarce. Because Indigenous women had to transition from raising cattle and find a new way to support their families, raising chickens is a life-sustaining alternative. They’re easier to raise and provide eggs to feed families and sell at markets. And with more income, women can help their daughters stay in school longer and wait until they are older to marry. Naiyan has been crucial in teaching women how to care for chickens and brainstorming how they can use this opportunity to create a steady revenue source.

Together with MADRE, our local partner IIN and you, Naiyan is propelling grassroots women's solutions to climate breakdown and developing sustainable ways of living. From jiko stoves to planting seeds to supporting women’s participation in sustainable climate efforts, Naiyan is leading the way. Courageous and creative, she has dedicated her life’s work to the greater good of rural communities in Kenya. Thank you for making this life-changing work possible! And make sure you don’t miss our next report to find out how Naiyan brings her work to the international level!

 

Photo credits: First photo, Poppy Miyonga; Second and third photos, MADRE

Naiyan with seedlings she is growing.
Naiyan with seedlings she is growing.
Naiyan with chickens she raises.
Naiyan with chickens she raises.
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Naiyan, a member of MADRE’s partner organization, the Indigenous Information Network in Kenya, is the very definition of a woman climate defender. Your support allows her to raise awareness about climate change issues and facilitates exchanges with other Indigenous women’s groups. She also advocates for the inclusion of women in decision making on natural resource management in her community.

Indigenous Peoples, like Naiyan’s community, are on the frontlines of climate change in Kenya, where they face frequent, severe droughts that damage the crops that herds of animals depend on for survival. Women and girls are tasked with the heavy burden of securing water for their families. When trees are cut down, erosion can contaminate water sources, which forces them to travel even longer distances to find potable water. To make ends meet, parents are forced to pull their daughters out of school and marry them off in exchange for a dowry. Luckily for her rural community, Naiyan is doing everything she can to combat these issues.

Naiyan comes from a generation known for advocating for a political stance and grew up inspired by the role models around her. Her earliest inspiration comes from her mother, who created a safe space for rural women to come together to talk about the struggles they face due to climate change and find solutions. Naiyan understands the value of intergenerational leadership — so she includes young people in her work.

“We involve young women - the new generations - in our reforestation efforts because they are the ones to face climate change now and find solutions.” - Naiyan

Naiyan has seen first hand the challenges that the climate crisis brings to rural communities. When she was little, she would see women fetching water from up to 20 kilometers away because deforestation caused there to be a lack of rainfall and an overall drier environment. Over the years Naiyan has noticed that women suffer the most from climate crisis. Some of these women fetching water were pregnant, walking long distances in hot months putting unnecessary strain on their unborn babies. Not only does it put a strain on their unborn babies and themselves, but their children also become very sick when there is a lack of clean water.

Naiyan saw that her environment was changing right before her eyes and understood the root cause of the issue, climate change. This led to her dedication to defending communities against this global threat. And thanks to your support, she’s created lasting change.

Stay tuned to learn about Naiyan’s local solutions to big problems!

 

Photo credit: Poppy Miyonga

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Our partner, Lucy, and MADRE board member Anne
Our partner, Lucy, and MADRE board member Anne

Longtime MADRE board member, Elyse Lightman Samuels, wrote a beautiful and thoughtful piece about our work in Kenya. She shares reflections about our Kenyan partner, the Indigenous Information Network (IIN), their leader, Lucy Mulenkei, and building connections with MADRE members like you. We hope you find it as inspiring as we do. Thank you for making our lifesaving climate justice work with IIN possible!
_________________________________________________________

“We are all connected,” said Lucy Mulenkei, Executive Director of the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) in Kenya and longtime partner of MADRE, who spoke earlier this year at a gathering hosted by MADRE Board Co-Chair, Anne Hess.

When Lucy meets with women from rural Indigenous communities to talk about climate change and human rights, she leans into the theme of interconnectedness. The message that we are more powerful when we work together, was woven through her remarks as she addressed a small gathering of MADRE members.

Lucy described how women experience climate crisis firsthand, such as the severe weather that causes droughts and decimates crops. IIN teaches women to plant trees around their homes and how to create and sustain small farms. Lucy’s organization also helps women create corrugated roofs and a water catchment system, so water is available for farming and livestock.

These are huge steps forward: instead of spending nearly two-thirds of their time gathering muddy water from the river, women can raise nutritious food from their family farms. They can raise money by selling vegetables and send their daughters to school, rather than trading them for a dowry in early marriage to make ends meet.

Lucy reminded us, thoughtfully and directly, that our actions in the US impact climate crisis the world over, with particularly harsh impacts on rural and Indigenous women. The need is great for policymakers in the US and elsewhere to hear from women experiencing climate crisis firsthand in their communities. Women have the solutions, declared Lucy, and we must uplift their voices.

“True partnerships begin with trust,” Lucy said, referencing MADRE’s long-term partnership with IIN. “When we began working with MADRE, it was like a sister-to-sister way. They became family. Everybody is important, and everybody has a place. That’s why we feel comfortable, and why we have worked together for over 15 years.”

As Lucy was speaking, the topic arose of MADRE’s recent delegation to Kenya. Referring to the MADRE members who had visited the local communities, she shared, “Sometimes it’s not just the material that you give, but the company that you are. For you to come to women’s homes, sit with them, see how they cook and make a living, this is powerful. When I go back, they’ll ask me about you all, they’ll remember your names. And they will show your pictures to their children, again and again.”

Many of us wonder what difference we can make, as one individual, to help communities under threat or to confront global emergencies like the climate crisis. Without question, providing our financial resources, when we’re able to do so, matters a great deal. So does listening, learning, lending our voices, and standing with one another.

When we recognize and embrace our interconnectedness, we move closer to MADRE’s vision: a world where all people enjoy the fullest range of individual and collective human rights; where resources are shared equitably and sustainably; where women participate effectively in all aspects of society; and where people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives. This vision starts with each of us.


Photo credits: MADRE

Women dance together at a MADRE-organized exchange
Women dance together at a MADRE-organized exchange
We are stronger when we stand with one another
We are stronger when we stand with one another
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A local Indigenous woman collecting water.
A local Indigenous woman collecting water.

Our partners at the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) mobilize women on the frontlines of climate change. Kenya is enduring longer dry months and dwindling water supplies, creating burdens that fall heavily on women and girls. They are the ones typically tasked with walking long hours to find and haul scarce water for the household.

Thanks to your contributions, we have installed water storage tanks that collect rainfall and secure clean, easy-to-access water for women and families. IIN was also able to distribute over 100 energy efficient cookstoves, an updated Indigenous design that burns plant waste instead of wood.

Also, we delivered 50,000 tree seedlings to women farmers, which will offset climate change by renewing forests and protect local water sources by preventing erosion. Thank you for making this possible!

Photo credit: Poppy Miyonga

Indigenous women preparing to plant seedlings.
Indigenous women preparing to plant seedlings.
Indigenous women with an energy efficient stove.
Indigenous women with an energy efficient stove.
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Rosemary speaking at the climate talks in Poland.
Rosemary speaking at the climate talks in Poland.

Thanks to your support, Indigenous women amplified their voices on the international stage. Members from our Kenyan partners at the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) traveled to Poland to attend the annual UN conference on climate change.

There, our partner, Rosemary, shared how climate change makes it harder for Indigenous women to feed their families. And when food becomes scarce, conflict can erupt between communities — with devastating impacts. She called for policymakers to address climate change issues and to uplift Indigenous women’s voices and solutions.

With your support, we are also able to hold workshops with IIN on climate justice and organize exchanges between local communities in Kenya. These activities create safe spaces for women to speak up, share their ideas on how to combat climate change, develop leadership skills and build closer bonds between communities.

Rosemary often leads and attends these workshops with IIN. They provide her with public speaking experience and helped her strengthen her leadership skills. She ultimately used this experience on the international stage at the UN conference on climate change! Thank you for making this work possible!


Photo credit: Indigenous Information Network

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Organization Information

MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Org.

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @madrespeaks
Project Leader:
Yifat Susskind
New York, NY United States
$2,848 raised of $5,000 goal
 
56 donations
$2,152 to go
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