By Caroline Kibii
Research shows that if women had access to resources, on-farm yields could increase by 20-30%. This extra output could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12-17%.
Meet 24 year old Caroline Langat, a wife and mother of two, who demonstrates that indeed with access to resources, women can make significant change. Caroline hails from Nyando in Western Kenya; an area hard hit by climate change impacts. Droughts, floods, and unpredictable rainfall have increased in this area, affecting agriculture and food security. There is greater variability in the expected onset of seasonal rainfall in Nyando with long dry spell days observed at early onset and extreme flooding during late onset events coupled with early cessation. This has led to many food insecure households; a study conducted in 2010 showed —up to 17 percent of households in Nyando were unable to meet their food needs for 3 to 4 months.
Having faced many days of hunger and hopelessness, Caroline decided to participate in community empowerment agricultural research interventions being introduced by the CGIAR research program of climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS) and partners. This included the set-up of community demonstration plots for testing of multiple stress tolerant crop varieties for sharing of knowledge on new technologies. Additionally, new breeds of sheep and goats that are able to withstand drought and diseases were introduced to the community for cross breeding.
Motivated by what she observed and learnt, Caroline decided to utilize the knowledge acquired to change her life and that of her family. Through a savings and loans initiative established by Kapsokale Community Based Organisation (CBO), where Caroline is a member, she was able to borrow some money for purchase of improved goat breeds (5 bucks and two does).
“I am now relieved of the burden of buying milk as I get a litre each day. We can now afford to have tea with milk daily,” says Caroline.
In addition to the goats, Caroline acquired 24 hybrid as well as local chicken which provide her with eggs for sale and local consumption. Her family’s health has improved because of the nutritious chicken products — meat and eggs.
Crop diversity for food security
In order to cushion herself from the erratic rains, Caroline’s farm boosts of a mix of drought tolerant crops such as sorghum, finger millet and butternuts. Caroline says that ever since she diversified her sources of food, she has had a lot of time to engage in more activities that generate income. This includes operating a small food kiosk.
Caroline’s small business is strengthened by loans she takes from her CBO’s savings and loaning initiative that includes table banking and a revolving fund. Through the CBOs, members (70% are women) can easily access small loans from rural saving schemes that include table banking and revolving funds. These funds are used to purchase improved seed and livestock varieties.
Caroline says she has set a good example for young women like her who did not think they could venture in activities that only men were perceived to be good at. In Nyando, it is rare to find women owning cows or goats. She further notes that it is time women stopped depending on men for everything as they too can do even better when it comes to development.
Having been able to provide food for her family, Caroline now aspires to save up enough money so she can go back to school. She plans to raise money for her studies through an annual goat auction at her local market that fetches lucrative prices. Through education, she will gain business skills that will further support her farming activities.
Caroline Kibii is a community empowerment officer, Nyando. She works for Vi Agroforestry