October 31, 2015

August 2015 - New projects and developments

What happened since my last visit


 The Gaketha Group was selected to be part of an agricultural training program financed by the government. They were shown how to grow soy and climbing beans under a variety of conditions: with and without compost or with fertilizer. The experiment and the results were recorded and later evaluated and compared with the records of other goups. The group members were encouraged to apply their new skills in their own shambas.

the women with the agricultural trainer
planting beans and keeping records

The Kiini workshop is well equipped but rather underutilized. Reverend Nkanya has been trying to get orders from institutions and individuals but there is stiff competition. He found a talented young man who comes to build furniture when the workshop gets orders. 

This year, the MKICDO board members discovered that there is demand for high-quality upholstery. A bank manager from Chuka came to visit the workshop and asked for a special sofa set. She had seen one in Nairobi but did not want to have it transported all the way to her home. Instead, arrangements were made to have the Nairobi specialists build a sofa set at our workshop. First, one man came and built the wooden skeletons. Next, two women came and sewed the fabrics on rented sewing machines. An upholsterer cut the foam rubber pieces and gave the final touches to the furniture. The results were rather impressive: a beautiful modern sofa set.

a sofa skeleton
The fabrics were provided by the customer.
almost done

Planning a new vocational training institute

The MKICDO board members in Kenya and H-G Klaphake and I in Germany have been discussing and evaluating the slow progress at our Kiini workshop. We decided to take a new approach to establish an institute where vocational training is provided to the youths of the area and where training of trainers and promotors takes place.
We asked the Tharaka-Nithi County Government to assist us. They were in favour of our plans and signalized that they were ready to support us. 
H-Georg wrote a project proposal for an Institute of Advanced Vocational Training in Appropriate Energy-efficient Technologies and Renewable Energies and sent it to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

frequent board meetings and long hours of work and discussions

When I visited Mugo in August we went to Karinga ga nkoru, a small market about 1.2 km from our Kiini workshop. The County Government had allocated several pieces of land for us to choose from. We agreed that a plot on the edge of the market would be suitable to build training workshops, a school and offices. A dining/social hall, kitchen and accomodation would be built on a plot in the center of Karinga. These two plots were given to MKICDO by the County Government and the transaction was confirmed in a document. The government is also going to employ the staff of the training institute and give additional financial assistance.

view from the main road - left: the plot for the training institute; right: the road to Karinga ga nkoru
downhill view: the plot borders the main road
Karinga market - Here we want to build the dining hall
During my stay, Mugo, the county economic advisor, Munene Mputhia, and I were very busy running up and down to get the land evaluated and official documents written and signed. These documents were crucial for our project proposal to be approved by the German BMZ. 
In addition, we visted influential people to inform them about our project plans and lobby for support. Their reactions were positive and they promised to assist us. An elderly farmer who practiced permaculture and had built and run a coffee wet mill in his haydays offered us the use of his land for agricultural demonstrations.

The briquet-making project


Our German organisation Lernen-Helfen-Leben e.V. has focused on the construction of gasifier/pyrolysis stoves during the past 3 years. These stoves perform very well when pellets or briquets made from plant waste are used. In my discussions with MKICDO board members we came to the conclusion that making briquets for sale could be a viable income-generating project for the Kiini workshop. It would also be in line with our plans to build gasifier stoves at the new institute and train promotors to market them.
Mugo found a young entrepreneur who already had some experiences in setting up such projects. We met and came up with a basic outline for a medium-scale business. The briquets will be made of sawdust and coffee husks. Sawdust is readily available from carpentry workshops. The husks are a waste product at coffee dry mills and are sold very cheaply. We went to a nearby coffee cooperative and made arrangements to be given priority once we need these raw materials.

Talking about gasifier stoves with Levis Bundi. This giz book has a wealth of information on stove types and pellet and briquet presses.

The dry coffee beans are dehusked and graded.

Coffee grown in the Mount Kenya region is delicious!

A visit to Kedovo e.V. in Nyeri

In May I met a young Kenyan woman who lives in Germany and has founded an organisation to help coffee farmers in her home area Nyeri on the western slopes of Mount Kenya. Muthoni, together with her brothers at home, imports coffee and sells it to roasters in Germany, at a supermarket in her town Kaltenkirchen and in her online shop (http://www.chaniacoffee.de/). As a result, the farmers get higher prices for their coffee. Part of Muthoni´s profit is used to assist her home community.
Our coffee-growing board members and a representative of the Kiini Coffee Growers Co-op were interested in joining Muthoni´s activities. So we visited her family to get first-hand information about their projects. We got a very friendly reception and our coffee farmers got some eye-opening information about fair trade.

in the coffee shamba
Our hosts show us their canvas bag biogas system.

visitors and hosts

Other activities and impressions - a potpourri

Some of the Gaketha goup women are happily displaying their donated rain jackets. - Thank you to all those who donated!
An employee of the County Ministry for Youths and Sports receives some of the donated footballs.
The kids test one of the balls.
Gorgeous! - The two improved dairy goats both got kids while I was there.
Our stately billy goat is back after a successful mission in another project.
Mugo is getting a new grain store built.
Mugo´s son Murangiri is now living in the compound with his wife and son. He is working as a teacher like his dad but also very interested in farming. - He shows me a banana circle.
They planted a variety of vegetables in their kitchen garden.
Mugo´s daughter Nkatha (left) applies the skills she learned during a two-year course at a beauty college. She will graduate in November and is hoping to be self-employed.
Gakii tests the Lightoven III panel cooker that I brought from Germany. Unfortunately it was a bit too cloudy and her birthday cake did not get done.
We visit the bank manager who got the new sofa set for her home.
Very comfortable! - She is impressed with the good job done at our workshop and promises to advertise our services. She is also the head of the local Women´s Guild and ready to work together with us.
One day off - Munene takes us through the Mt. Kenya forest up to the park.
At the Forest Lodge you can rent self-contained cottages. I spent one night here after climbing Mt.Kenya -    in 1986 !!!

The view is fantastic but Mt.Kenya hides in the clouds most of the day.

The latest news


The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has accepted our proposal. Within a project period of 3 years, they will assist us with a grant to build and develop the new training institute. However, we still have to contribute a large share ourselves. This is a heavy burden for us.
Therefore we would appreciate any kind of support and be grateful for your donation.

You may send your donation to the Kenya account of our German organisation

 “Lernen-Helfen-Leben e.V.”, Volksbank Vechta,

IBAN: DE48 2806 4179 0135 875811,   BIC: GENO DE F1 VEC

or you can donate on

Thank you in the name of all MKICDO officials and members!


  1. Thanks for the useful information. Your article is beneficial for us and those who are searching for Energy Advisor.

  2. Thank you for your post. This is excellent information. It is amazing and wonderful to visit your site.
    online supermarket in pumwani