March 11, 2012

The shamba project

 In Kenya, the majority of people lives in rural areas. Many of them practice subsistence farming and depend on regular annual rainfalls. In the past, many areas of Kenya have been regularly affected by droughts and crops have dried up. People had to buy their staple foods from the shops which many of them can hardly afford since their incomes are low and the food prices have been driven up by inflation. During "good" rainy seasons the rains often come in heavy downpours: young seedlings are drowned and topsoil is washed away; or insects invade the fields and destroy the crops.

Maize is a Kenyan staple crop. But it needs high amounts of fertilizer and water to do well. Hence maize is among those crops that dry up fast when the rains don´t come at the right time or in sufficient quantity.

Members of the umbrella organization and the Gaketha group have started a pilot project to grow a drought-tolerant sorghum variety. In addition, they will plant sweet potato vines and cassava tree cuttings which they will get from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Embu. These varieties will take only 3 months to mature.
Mugo has donated a part of his land for the project. All crops will be grown organically. 

The land has been cleared.

a lesson on contour leveling

A board member learns how to use a spirit level.

Mr. Njue digs terraces along the contour lines.

breaking down the soil for easier planting and germination

adding manure
measuring the distance between the planting holes

cassava cuttings and sorghum seeds from KARI

The tree nursery

The members of the Gaketha group have established a tree nursery. They have been instructed and assisted by Mr. Njue who is an expert in this field. They are going to grow indigenous trees as well as Neem and Moringa. The trees will provide fruits,medicinal herbs, natural herbicides and fungicides as well as firewood and building materials. Planting trees will be an important contribution to preventing further deforestation and counteracting the devastating effects of climatic change. The project also provides an additional source of income for the group members.

The seeds are germinated in seedbeds. The young seedlings have to be protected against the sun with shades.

When the seedlings are strong enough they are transplanted into plastic bags filled with soil. 

Filling the bags is a time-consuming and tiresome job.

On the group´s working day, the members spend the whole day in the tree nursery. Children come along with their mothers. They are welcome helpers and get some environmental training.

strong healthy Neem seedlings

women preparing  food for the group members

an urgent issue: digging a pit latrine for the workers
The hole has to be dug quite deep.
a good example of an easy-to-clean toilet floor  (seen at Kari Agricultural Research Institute)

the Gaketha group

March 10, 2012

School activities

On a project day of Mugo´s school in November 2011, a young teacher and his students  planted tree seedlings in the school compound.

The school is to become an educational centre for the whole community:

- A fuel-efficient stove will be installed in the school kitchen for demonstration.

- The school hall will be used for community training and workshops on environmental issues. 

board members with the headteacher of the school (centre)