Food insecurity is a major problem that Kenya still grapples with sixty years after independence. According to the World Food Programme, the people who are most vulnerable to food scarcity in Kenya live in Arid and Semi-Arid areas, which cover about 80% of the country. Food insecure families typically live in rural areas and are poor.

Hunger and Disease go hand in hand which is why disease burden is very high in these areas due to poor nutrition and poor or unavailability of clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) facilities. These people are therefore faced with a double edged sword of being hungry and sick at the same time. The above situation best describes Subo communities; hungry, sick, thirsty and almost forgotten. To address this situation, Oasis Community Network, among other programs launched a food security and livelihood program first to minister hope to these communities and then in collaboration with them, help them find sustainable solutions to their problems.

This program seeks to improve food security and increase household incomes of our target communities by facilitating better access, control and management of available community resources. We aim at building resilient livelihoods and empowering our target communities to effectively harness socio-economic and ecological resources as well as access essential services. We are aware that a critical enabler towards achievement of sustainable food security and livelihood is the development of essential internal and external assets of individuals which to a large extent initiates and produces visible transformation and outcomes. Capacity building, networking and establishment of Common Interest Groups (CIGs) is therefore foundational to the process.

OCN seeks to identify and promote solutions that will provide opportunities for target communities to be sustainably and meaningfully engaged in economic activities that lead to food security, income generation and ability to overcome negative shocks. In doing this, Oasis Community Network is committed to addressing four key dimensions of food security which are availability, access, utilization, and stability. It’s not in order that even with natural resources such as the 1000km long Tana river, the inhabitants of this county more so Subo communities still rank high in terms of poverty and food insecurity. It’s against this backdrop that we started an awareness campaign focusing on helping the communities realize the opportunities that lie untapped in the natural resources at their disposal. This sad reality coupled with the realization that things could change for the better, gave us the much needed push.

We did a demonstration garden of water melons and kales and we walked with selected households from the communities every step of the farming till harvesting and selling.

The following year the selected households tilled their own pieces of land under our supervision and planted green grams and kales. They did relatively well and also presented to them great lessons. The larger community was positively challenged and influenced by what was happening and this year, they decided to join in taking advantage of the long rains to do maize farming. The maize has done well and they will be harvesting in about a weeks’ time.

What started as a simple awareness campaign has helped in achieving the transformation in Subo communities and as we talk the households are partially food secure. We intend to carry on until every household is doing this as we target to help them produce beyond household consumption but to sales in order to supplement household income.

The maize plantations.

Ali and  his brother Abdi roasting maize from their farm for lunch before going back to school.

This 80 year old granny feeding her grandchildren on roasted maize. Ordinarily, the children wouldn’t have anything to eat.

Community empowerment training