Kakamega, Kenya

  Paths to Progress:  What's Happening in Kakamega?

Community Partner Highlights

education.gifDivine Providence Children's Home supports orphans through educational opportunities and positive nutrition. The organization offers a sponsorship program to assist youth with school fees and has developed a student leadership program.

enterprise.gifVillage Enterprise has helped to launch more than 23,000 small businesses, working to alleviate poverty through entrepreneurship and protect future generations.

microfinance.gifWestern Education Advocacy and Empowerment Program (WEAEP) supports marginalized groups through psychosocial support, skills training, and advocacy. Established as a volunteer-run organization, WEAEP aims to empower women and children through literacy programs and microfinance initiatives.

Introduction to the East African Village


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The town of Kakamega is situated on the edge of world renowned rainforest, not far from Lake Victoria. Along with its exceptional natural beauty, Kakamega offers an authentic representation of East African village life. Yet, two-thirds of the region’s population falls below the poverty line, directly relying upon the water and land resources surrounding their communities. With seventy-five percent of the workforce engaged in agriculture, Kenyan farmers face growing problems of soil erosion, deforestation, water pollution, and desertification. FSD's community partners focus on sustainable technologies to combat environmental degradation--as well as healthcare measures that target pressing medical issues. The situation with HIV/AIDS is particularly striking in the Kakamega region, where awareness levels remain low and medical facilities are few and far between.

Kakamega, Western Kenya

Population:  73,607

Avg. temperature:  Low 62ºF / High 85ºF

Local time: 

Local language:  Swahili

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Organization: KEEP
Topic: Environmental sustainability
Intern: Christopher Waybill

The Kakamega Environmental Education Program (KEEP) and Intern Christopher Waybill are putting the “rain in rainforest” with a pilot program to construct pico-hydration systems that harness the energy supplied by rainfall. KEEP will use this energy to bring electricity to small structures called bandas used by tourists and locals alike.

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Organization: WEAEP
Topic: Women’s empowerment
Intern: Supriya Prakash

Western Education Advocacy and Empowerment Program (WEAEP) has initiated the Sustainable Beekeeping Empowerment Program for local women to generate income and support their families. Women receive training in the art of beekeeping and honey harvesting, promoting financial independence and a network of support.

Peter Khamusali Ingosi, Program Director

Peter

Peter is a long-time advocate of grassroots development in his home village of Shikokho, Kenya and has more than ten years of experience working in the private, public, and NGO sectors. Peter holds a degree in Sustainable Development and a Masters in Community Development and brings his dedication, passion, and experience working at the local, national, and international levels to his work. Peter recently held a community development training using FSD's model for a group of Kenyans and U.S. students starting their own NGO in a neighboring town.

A day in the life of an FSD Intern

Boda Boda Business

Josh Silverman partnered with Kakamega Entrepreneurs Savings and Credit Co-Operative Society (KES) to support creative microfinance initiatives within the community.

First of all, let me just say that I cannot believe that I have already been in Kakamega for over a month. Talk about how time flies! I spent a lot of time during weeks 2 and 3 formulating my work plan. How could I have a sustainable impact on KES and the Kakamega community? This was a really difficult question to answer, and after hours of deliberation I decided not to focus on just one idea, but instead to work on a series of small projects that could improve the cooperative’s effectiveness in Kakamega.

My first objective is to facilitate the involvement of current members and the recruitment of new members. KES has over 400 members, but suffers from a very high monthly default rate due to their “goodwill” debt collection procedures. I am proposing that we create a quarterly newsletter, targeted specifically at members who have been dormant for more than two months. In addition, I am hoping to implement new incentive programs to encourage continuous payment of loans. My second objective is to update their accounting systems. Currently, the bookkeeper uses Microsoft Excel for all accounts, but none of her spreadsheets are dynamic. In other words, she adds everything up with a calculator instead of using formulas that could calculate everything automatically. My goal is to transfer the knowledge of efficient data management systems using excel.

Thirdly, I am working with KES’ microfinance sector to jumpstart a new group of boda boda drivers. This is probably the part of my project that I am most excited about. A boda boda is essentially a bicycle taxi, who shuttles people around all day for about 15 cents per trip on average. Most of the drivers (there are hundreds of them) have no other way of making a living--many have even finished high school or university but just don’t have any other career options. Our goal is to get a group of 15 boda bodas to start saving monthly for four months, after which they will have the opportunity to take out a small business loan. After this loan is paid back, they will eventually take out a bigger loan and will thus be given the opportunity to work their way up out of poverty.
bike.JPG I met with the bodas for the first time on Friday, and it was probably the most powerful experience I have had since coming to Kenya. We met for about an hour in a small hot room, with someone translating what I was saying sentence by sentence into Kiswahili and then translating their questions back into English. After their skepticism had been assuaged (many Kenyan workers have been victims of fraudulent pyramid schemes), I could sense the excitement and nervousness in their tone of voice. Nobody had ever before put their faith in the hands of these boda drivers, and I believe they saw in this newfound trust an opportunity to change their lives. In the end, I hope that some if not all of my projects will be sustainable, and will help KES to reach their goals.