Indigenous women in Kenya are mobilizing to confront climate change in their communities. Facing years of deadly drought, our partners at the Indigenous Information Network (IIN) have built systems to protect local springs and store precious water supplies. On a recent trip, we delivered two water tanks to our partners’ communities. These water tanks will help women and their families access and preserve clean water, despite the drought.
And we’re working together to bring their voices to the international level, where they can share their expertise and demand just climate policies. In fact, in December, an IIN delegation will be going to a UN climate conference in Poland, bringing their locally-rooted knowledge to advocate for sustainable solutions to climate change. Thanks to your support, we’re able to support our partners as they create change locally and internationally.
Photo credit: Poppy Miyonga
In Kenya, MADRE partners with Indigenous women leaders who organize to build healthier and more resilient communities. Together, we combat the dangers of climate change by creating sustainable farming initiatives and protecting water sources. We advocate for the rights of women and girls to be educated, to be safe from violence and to step up as leaders.
These photos show various water projects we have in Kenya, where communities are affected by devastating drought. For instance, a project that created two separate water sources, one for the animals and one for the women, ensuring that the community has access to clean water.
To watch a video about our clean water project in Kenya, follow this link to our website! There, you can watch another video to learn more about our human rights trainings in Kenya where we facilitate exchanges between different Indigenous communities. These exchanges provide women with the opportunity to learn from one another, share valuable insights on how their communities approach climate justice and human rights and create lasting friendships.
Photo credit: First, third and fourth photos, MADRE; Second photo, Indigenous Information Network
Alice is an Indigenous Rendille woman from Kenya and a powerful advocate for the rights of women and girls. In her rural community, water sources, open pastures and animal herds were declining due to climate change. She saw how this endangered people’s lives. No longer able to depend on herding livestock, women were struggling to feed their families, and the arid land they live on made it nearly impossible to grow food.
With your help, Alice began to organize with other women in her community. They knew firsthand their communities' needs for environmental conservation and for land preservation.
With the women in her community and with MADRE's local partner, the Indigenous Information Network, Alice mobilized a solution. She and the other women in the group set up a greenhouse to grow the food their families depend on. They installed systems to collect rainwater and pumps to help irrigate their crops. With your support, the women are not only raising more successful harvests, they have generated a new source of income for women to sustain themselves and their families. Thank you!
Through our partners at the Indigenous Information Network, MADRE supported the participation of four Indigenous women at the annual UN climate change talks. Thanks to your generosity, Indigenous women in rural Kenya have had the opportunity to learn about how to combat climate change and become leaders in their communities. Their efforts were rewarded when governments committed to incorporate perspectives and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples in new environmental policy platforms.
Thanks to donors like you, Indigenous women like Christine can participate in leadership trainings. Christine is a local activist and built a new stove to reduce the amount of wood needed, saving trees and reducing the amount of smoke women breathe when cooking. With MADRE’s support, women are taking on leadership roles to combat climate threats, making their voices heard and creating lasting change.
Meet Paulina, an Indigenous woman farmer from the rural town of Chepareria in West Pokot, Kenya. When you first meet her, she seems quiet and reserved. But ask her about her farm, and she comes alive with excitement.
Where she lives in Chepareria with her eight daughters, Indigenous families like hers depend on the land for food and income – for their survival.
But the impacts of climate change make farming harder every day. “The biggest challenge of farming now,” she told us, “is drought.”
East Africa is facing its worst drought since 1945 with millions of people on the brink of survival. The dry months are getting longer and longer. Access to water is scarce. Women and girls – traditionally tasked with collecting water – have to travel farther distances to dwindling streams to find what little exists. This makes farming – Paulina’s livelihood – all the more difficult.
But Paulina is not easily deterred.
Seven years ago, she met Lucy Mulenkei, leader of our Kenyan partner organization, the Indigenous Information Network. With MADRE’s support, Lucy works with Indigenous women farmers in rural Kenya to help them adapt to climate change threats, including by training them to harvest rainwater. Paulina has been attending our trainings for many years. With your support, she has learned new methods to implement on her farm.
For example, Paulina learned to set up a rainwater collection tank. And it has made all the difference on her farm. That’s because the tank collects and stores enough water during the rainy season that she can water her crops during the worsening dry season. What’s more, it means that she and her daughters no longer have to walk for hours in search of ever more distant water sources.
Paulina loves to farm. She spends her days on her land, turning the soil, planting seeds and tending to her crops. Others farms in her community that don’t have rainwater tanks risk devastation by lingering drought, with crops failing and plants withering away. But not Paulina’s. Over the years, with the help of her rainwater collection tank and other strategies she’s learned through MADRE and IIN, her farm has flourished, thanks to donors like you.
“It was a small farm at first,” she told us. “I grew maize, beans and cassava to sell in the markets and earn income. Through the years, my income and water tank helped me grow my farm.”
Now, she’s added ever more new crops to her farm: a wide variety of vegetables, mangos, avocados and more. And she sells her surplus produce in local markets. She invests the money she earns back into her family. “I use my income to improve my house, to clothe my children and to take them to the doctor when they are sick,” she told us.
But there’s another reason Paulina works so hard on her farm. You see, Paulina never went to school. In her community, educating girls is not seen as a priority.
But she wanted something different for her daughters. So, every day, she worked in the fields. She worked hard so that she could give her daughters a chance at what she never had — an education. And she succeeded. With money she raised from her crops, she paid for tuition and books, and she was able to send all eight of her daughters to school!
Not only do her daughters receive the education that Paulina was denied. Just imagine the ripple effects. When a girl goes to school, it helps to grow her confidence. It opens her horizons and enables her to step up as a community leader.
“All my children are girls, and they are all going to school. I am very proud of them,” she shared with us with a large smile on her face.
We asked Paulina what she is most proud of. “When I started my home, I started with empty hands, with nothing. But now, I have a farm, I have food, and all my girls are in school. I’m proud of my children. And I am proud of my hands that work hard to make something.”
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