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.gifSend a Cow aims to empower communities to become self-sustaining farming institutions with good health/hygiene practices, income security, and enough food. The organization also promotes HIV/AIDS awareness and gender equity.

microfinance.gifSAIDE supports marginalized members of the society in socio- economic activities through capacity building, training, and research. A volunteer-run organization, SAIDE empowers vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the society through literacy programs and microfinance initiatives.

Introduction to the East African Village


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.


Western Kenya

    Population:  73,607

    Avg. temperature:  Low 62ºF / High 85ºF

    Local time: 

    Local language:  Swahili

Anita Williams

Organization: Iguhu
Topic: Health and Appropriate Technology
Intern: Anita Williams

The Iguhu County Hospital and Intern Anita Williams are combining the use of modern technology with public health data collection in a Mobile Application Initiative. The initiative is to allow Community Health Volunteers to submit data immediately through their own mobile phones, instead of recording on paper and submitting monthly.

Sarah Rapaport

Organization: Divine Providence
Topic: Youth and Education
Intern: Sarah Rapaport

Divine Providence and Intern Sarah Rapaport are making great use of their resources to harvest a love for extracurricular reading in their library. Through the introduction of a reading club, and sorting their books more efficiently (text books v.s. story books and by class level), children of all ages are able to enhance their reading skills.

Peter Khamusali Ingosi, Program Director


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

Self-Perpetuating Development

After my hour long 730 class period is over, a day of self-directed activities begins. Before coming to work in this sustainable development internship position, I thought that I liked to make up my own structure and define my own modes of operation. Now however, I sometimes just wish I would be told exactly what to do. Probably this springs more from a desire to please in this foreign place more than anything else. If I knew what I was doing was something which was commanded of me, I could act with less hesitation in knowing with certainty that what I was doing was what was desired. Then I would be able to return the favor of the incredible hospitality shown to me.

But if I knew exactly what needed to be done this would not be sustainable development. For there is rarely rarely rarely a single identifiable thing that must be done in development work. Before arriving I had no idea how to explain to people what I would be doing here beyond an “internship with the Foundation for Sustainable Development” What is sustainable development? Beats me…recite the foundation’s mission statement. Now I can provide a slightly more thoughtful answer: it’s the art of encouraging self-perpetuating “improvement” without doing it yourself.

In many ways it is like raising a child. The parent himself has already conquered the throws of the terrible twos and the temperamental teens, and now is supposed to relive the experience with his child as some sort of moral guide, patient director, careful cultivator. But the parent mustn’t be too distant or too near lest the child develop an overly secure or underly secure attachment. The parent also mustn’t impose the boundaries of the lesser utilities available to them in their childhood, lest the child be unable to keep up with the inevitably changing environment around them. I.e. it would be a struggle to convince the child to use an old Walkman when she can see her parent has an IPod and Spotify account.
In describing development there is still the problem of defining improvement. Since improvement is not objective, the agent of development must be incredibly careful to get to know the community deeply so that they might work together in achieving a common goal. This goal must be useful, enduring, self- perpetuating, and driven from within. There is some talk of the “mzungu project,” whereby a mzungu (foreigner) comes in and takes on some project in the homeland of another community that simply dissipates once the mzungu has left. This is exactly what I must be sure not to do. In this manner my work here is even better defined by what it is not. It is not building a car with expensive foreign parts that can only be replaced with expensive foreign parts. It is not writing complicated code that is a headache for anyone else to modify. It is not bringing your child’s lunch to her every time she forgets it so that she cannot eat unless you provide for her. It’s a bit of tough love.