It’s raining! After an abnormally long dry spell, finally some rain has come our way in Kitale! This is a great relief to farmers and consumers alike as the last thing a country with a large proportion of people below the poverty line need is a drought with food shortages and high prices. As we reintegrate children to families, we are mindful of what we can do to help them find sustainable solutions to one of their major problems – that of providing food on the table. Families we work with are usually in the slum areas on the outskirts of town with no land at all, or are subsistence farming on small plots which are often not owned by them.
We have run a very effective bio-intensive agriculture program over the past ten years. This teaches families how to maximize organic crop production in a very small area, with minimal costly inputs. A family in a slum can grow some fresh vegetables in a tower garden in a sack or, with their neighbours, can plant several sacks in the grounds of a nearby school or church thus ensuring no pilfering. A smallholder can learn the best crops to grow side by side to deter pests and avoid chemicals, and how to nourish the soil without costly fertilizers.
Lack of food is one of the top three reasons for children running away from home to the streets and assurance of a full belly is one of the best motivators to get that child home again. Obviously not all families can grow their own food and these families are assisted through small business grants or training in a trade in order to be able to buy their food.
Good nutrition and adequate food supply is essential to reducing stress in the home and enabling children to attend school and concentrate on their studies. While we are getting families on their feet, we often provide a short term ‘food basket’ of essential items for a few months and, we have found that by empowering families to feed themselves, that ‘handout’ is only ever needed on a short term basis.
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