The population of Kenya has grown rapidly and is now projected to hit 50.9 million in the next census in 2019. The median age is 19 years, implying a high population of young people. In 2013, the country adopted a devolved system of government with the creation of 47 counties, and has devolved state revenues and responsibilities for economic and social developments to them. Kenya is the economic, financial, and transport hub of East Africa with a real GDP growth of over 5% for the last eight years; increasing 4.7% in 2017 to 6% in 2018.
Agriculture remains the backbone of the Kenyan economy, contributing one-third of the GDP and employing about 75% of Kenya‘s population who work at least part-time in the agricultural sector, including livestock and pastoral activities. More than 75% of the agricultural output comes from small-scale, rain-fed farming or livestock production prone to the effects of climate change. Pastoralists suffer severe scarcity of pasture and water for their livestock while agro-pastoralists face challenges in securing their crops from livestock herders during the long dry spells. This often leads to resource-based conflicts.
Over the years, VSF Germany has received support from various donors and implemented interventions to support vulnerable communities in need of humanitarian and development assistance, as well as resilience-building using innovative methodologies and approaches.
The main operation areas of VSF Germany in Kenya have been the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) where livestock is the main source of livelihoods but where people are chronically affected by livestock epidemics, drought, environmental degradation, poor infrastructure, extreme poverty and weak institutions. Most pastoralists in Kenya are highly vulnerable to food and nutrition insecurity and resource-based conflicts.
In addition, VSF Germany is actively involved in rabies control through mass vaccination of stray dogs in informal settlements in Nairobi County and the complex wildlife-livestock-human ecosystems in the Amboseli and Mara in Narok and Kajiado counties under the ONE Health agenda. This intervention follows the Global Dog Rabies Elimination Pathway (GDREP) that leads to the projected elimination of dog rabies by 2030.
VSF Germany received funds from the European Union (EU) for the three-year project “Community Action for Improved Drought Response and Resilience” in Marsabit County, covering the Saku and Laisamis Sub Counties. The project objective was to contribute to improving food security for ASAL livelihoods through enhanced response and resilience to drought. Together with the National Disaster Management Authority National Office and in cooperation with local NGOs CIFA and WRF, VSF Germany enabled communities to actively coordinate with local governments for effective drought risk reduction and resilience building.
The project adopted a community-led approach like the Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR), where the communities were guided to identify their key challenges and possible solutions to these challenges through a Participatory Disaster Risk Analysis (PDRA) process. The communities then came up with Community contingency and action plans prioritising activities to be implemented. The prioritised disaster risk reduction activities included pastoral field schools (PFS) that promote learning based on local context and pre-existing knowledge.
In addition, particularly vulnerable community members were encouraged to found village community banking associations (VICOBA). They use village saving schemes, community-manage contingency funds and serve as a platform for trade and income generation. Furthermore, women and youth groups were trained in management, marketing, agro-forestry and dry land farming. They are now practicing innovative techniques in crop production and micro-drip irrigation which has become a good source of income for the group members.
The project has supported the veterinary department in employing the Participatory Epidemiology and Participatory Disease Search (PDS) approaches in livestock disease surveillance. VSF Germany trained department staff and community disease reporters (CDRs) who link the community to the department and help spot early signs of diseases to improve the quality of services provided to pastoralists. VSF Germany also supported overhaul of the local laboratory through training and provision of veterinary laboratory inputs and equipment. This enhanced livestock disease diagnosis and prevention interventions. In order to increase livestock trading activities that serve as a source of livelihood for the majority of households, the project rehabilitated one of the major livestock markets in the county.
Elmolo Business Management Units (BMUs) and fishermen were supported with six modern fishing boats and three outboard engines to enable them to reach deeper waters safely for fishing. The intervention improved the amount of fish harvested and also enables communities to catch recommended sizes. The fishing communities were also supported with training on fish handling and hygiene, bookkeeping and finance management and received cold chain equipment to help preserve fish hygienically.
Improving Water Access through the One Health Approach - through SHARE Project in collaboration with Water Right Foundation in Marsabit County, Loiyangalani ward
Nyeusi Lon’gori is a member of the Kula Mawe Water Users Association, a committee that manages a water well drilled by VSF Germany in partnership with Water Right Foundation in Kula Mawe village in Loyangalani Ward, Marsabit County. Prior to the drilling of this well, Lon’gori experienced acute shortage of potable water, forcing women and girls to trek for over 10 kilometers to access safe water. The drilling and equipping of the water well put smiles on the faces of the Turkana community. It reduced the time women spend fetching water and helped de-escalate inter-ethnic conflicts that were associated with competition for the water resources in the area. A total of 500 households spread across the five villages in Loyangalani use the water from the well for their households and livestock. Some households also use the water to grow vegetables in their backyards for household consumption.
It is the best thing that has ever happened in our village. I used to bathe once in a month due to the lack of water. Our young girls frequently missed school while searching for water while I had constant backaches from the long distance travelled to fetch water. The well has improved access to clean water and reduced the occurrence of water-borne diseases that were common in this area. Water is life. Conflict between Samburu and Turkana communities has reduced because they no longer share water. Our girls are attending school regularly, unlike before when absenteeism was so common and some even dropped out of school entirely. We also use water from the well to plant trees in the area and the environment is rapidly improving.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations calls for urgent action to end poverty and other deprivations. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our Project in the Spotlight contributes to achieving the following SDGs:
VSF Germany supports healthcare management of livestock to improve production and productivity. Livestock provides labour and income, builds social capital, provides resources to maintain and improve livelihoods, increases financial capital, serves as a liquid assets and savings account and is a buffer against sudden disasters. Over decades, the involvement of VSF Germany in eradicating rinderpest and in the on-going peste des petits ruminants (PPR) eradication campaign has contributed significantly towards protecting livestock assets of the rural poor in Africa.
VSF Germany works to prevent and control zoonotic diseases to improve the safety of food of animal origin through better hygiene and raising awareness to protect the public health, and in particular children and the poor. Many neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are linked to animals. Animal production also contributes to growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which is of major concern worldwide. VSF Germany has embraced the One Health concept as an integrated programming approach in collaboration with human health and environmental actors to contribute to this goal.
Rural women around the world represent two-thirds of low-income livestock keepers, are the most important actors in the small-scale livestock sector and provide a significant part of the labour for livestock production. VSF Germany maintains a strong focus on supporting and developing livestock value chains that are operated predominantly by women.
Maurice joined VSF Germany in 2013 in the capacity of Kenya-Somalia Programme Coordinator. He has been the Country Director for the Kenya-Somalia Programme since 2018. He previously worked for the Government of Kenya, FARM Africa and Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) in the northern parts of Kenya and Somalia. In his current role, his main responsibility includes development of country programmes and management of programmes, including building relationships with potential donors and stakeholders.
Maurice has more than two decades of experience in programme development and implementation of humanitarian and development actions. He has focused on food security, livelihoods, One Health and community, public and private institutions for development support in pastoral settings. He has attained a wide range of training in Public Health, Environmental Science, Animal Production and Health. Other short professional courses attended include monitoring and evaluation, gender mainstreaming, security management, epidemiology, disaster risk management, international law and human rights, and others.
Maurice sees his immediate future in the service of VSF Germany, devoting much of his time to fundraising efforts and staff-capacity building in emerging areas of need in the communities and of interest to donors. Maurice is hoping for continued professional development through in-house training on relevant professional courses in response to the diverse requirements of our dynamic programmes in terms of new know-how and skills.
Maurice derives his motivation from successful project acquisitions, project implementation and positive feedback from beneficiaries and stakeholders, especially when he participates in stakeholders’ forums and receives compliments on the good work performed by VSF Germany staff in the field. He is also thrilled when he receives support from his colleagues from the region and from the headquarters in executing ideas to improve VSF Germany‘s programme performance in the two countries. An approval from the European Union for a three-year project under the SHARE Framework in Kenya in 2015 was a great success. Going forward, Maurice wants to strengthen internal organisational guidelines on management structures to enhance workflows and decision-making processes.