Understanding the humanitarian CONTEXT

As a communications specialist, in development and humanitarian Aid, I have learnt to appreciate the importance of on the Job training. As John Canfield aptly said it “some of the most important things can only be learned in the process of doing them.” For example, four years ago I transitioned from a banker based in Nairobi to a programme officer in the marginalized county of Samburu. The transition process taught me that my passion lies in the service to the communities that we serve.  Evidently, most of life is on the job training, and this is one of the things that I have picked from the core skills development course. Throughout the Core Skills Development Course work that run from August 2016 to January 2017, I greatly sharpened my skills in humanitarian programming, leadership in humanitarian response and good working practices.

My self-assessment during the inception stage of the course, revealed gaps in my understanding of humanitarian context and application of humanitarian principles.  The first step that I took to improve this competency was to watch video clips on a variety of humanitarian crises and steps taken to respond to the emergencies. I then completed online course on the Sphere handbook. As a result, I interacted with a number of humanitarian guidelines and principles such as: The Humanitarian Charter, NGO Code of Conduct, The Core Humanitarian Standards, and Protection Principles, amongst others. The first face to face workshop that was held in Debre Zeyit- Ethiopia, was an eye opener for me. It gave me an opportunity to interact with different actors in this discourse from Kenya and Ethiopia. I also learnt on the importance of application of these principles in project design, Implementation, Monitoring and phase out.


core skills workshop 1

As part of action learning, I shared resource materials from the course with my colleagues. As a result, 4 staff enrolled for the sphere online course and one staff enrolled for and completed the different needs equal opportunities course. I also placed the NGO and Red Cross code of conduct on the Caritas Maralal notice board.

One other gap that I noted during my self-assessment was a weakness in managing myself in a pressured and changing environment.  During the second workshop, we were taken through a session on Managing stress. I realized that implementers also get affected by the pressured and changing environment. Some of the ways that we get affected include: Facing the demands of work –life balance while addressing the needs of the affected population, the element of friction between programme staff and programme support staff, application of procurement guidelines and standards in emergencies, amongst others. Some of these situations can cause trauma. In recognition of this, management in Caritas Maralal organized for a trauma awareness training for all Caritas Maralal staff on 12th and 14th December 2016. This contributed to the improvement of this competency.

Based lessons learnt from the core skills programme, I achieved a three key results; one of my actions plans was to roll out the construction of a resource center in caritas Maralal. Through partnership with Action aid, construction begun in September 2016, after the first workshop. This was made possible through project funds from the Start Network: Shifting the Power project. We plan to equip the center with resource materials relevant to humanitarian response. We will also mentor interns interested in community development through this center. Caritas Maralal staff will also access hard and soft copies of resource materials from the Centre. My other action plan was to introduce online learning to my colleagues, and as mentioned earlier one staff completed a course and presented her certificate.

I have also produced a terms of reference for production of a video documentary on “peace building initiatives in humanitarian response”. The objective of the documentary is to produce a documentary that provides a clear compelling narrative on the effectiveness and quality of emergency response during conflict in Caritas Maralal.

Throughout the course work my learning objectives changed. Initially, my top two learning priorities were:

(1) Monitoring and Evaluation

(2) Developing and maintaining collaborative relationships.

Having gone through this course I achieved my learning objectives and so much more. The insight from the online modules, the course facilitators and resource materials provided, greatly influenced this. I also know that there is still room for improvement in certain areas. I want to enroll for a detailed course on Do No Harm and Conflict Sensitivity which I believe will make a significant contribution to my learning Journey.

In conclusion, I can see extensive ways in which I will continue to apply what I have learnt from this course. I know that I will continue to grow and learn throughout the completion of this course and beyond.


Lessons Learnt From the Girls’ Camp in Baragoi; Samburu County


, ,

Girls react to sessions on the harmful effects of female genital mutilation

Girls react to video sessions on harmful effects of female genital mutilation.

In August 2015, Caritas Maralal in partnership with CORDAID reached a total of 350 girls through a camping activity in Samburu North; in Baragoi primary school. Campers were from Ngilai, Bendera, Baragoi, Nachola, Natiti and Nalingagor primary schools. The sessions were led by 8 facilitators from AMREF, World Vision, Straight talk foundation, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. During the camp that lasted for a week, the girls were involved in interactive sessions on life skills, the role of girls in peace building, harmful cultural practices such as; Female Genital Mutilation, early/ forced marriages, beading and Human rights.
They also spent their evenings learning through skits and dramas, songs designed /created by the girls themselves. The Turkana and Samburu Communities in Samburu North, are infamous for inter-ethnic clashes and the facilitators engaged the girls from the two communities in connector activities such as games and interactive sessions on their experiences.
The Director of Gender in Samburu County Ms. Naanyu Lenaseiyan, through the ministry of Gender, supported the girls with 960 sanitary towels. The education office in Baragoi through Mr. Marios donated 800 sanitary towels and straight talk foundation donated 108 Sanitary towels which were all distributed to the campers. The Pastoral Coordinator of the Diocese of Maralal, Fr. Simon Tsiani donated prayer books and resource materials for the girls to learn more about the gospel.
The girls also had interactive sessions with a counseling psychologist Ms. Elsie Ngugi. The sessions revealed that the girls need psychosocial support having faced traumatic experiences such as Female Genital cutting and losing their family members to conflict. There was an expressed need for counseling for these girls who have undergone such traumatic experiences. Through the experience sharing forums some girls broke down sharing their stories of how they watched their loved ones die, how much they are scared of the FGM process and how they have learnt to live with the constant sounds of gunshots in their county. There is a need to assist victims of traumatic experiences to transition from being Victims, to survivors and finally resource persons in the community.
We cannot guarantee the safety of our girls during the school holidays because more often than not they shall be victims of harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation. Having learnt on the harmful effects of gender based violence and conflict; they all agreed to “Say NO to FGM” but at the end of the day they don’t really have a choice it rests on their parents and community elders. Some girls broke down during this session some asked “what will happen to those now that have already gone through Female Genital Mutilation?
It was also evident that there is a need to extend this intervention beyond the girls, to the parents of the 350 girls. It was also suggested that the same camping activity should be held for the boy child. It has been said that men are the potential resistors of change and if we don’t target them in our interventions our efforts shall be thwarted. Boys also need to understand the consequences of gender based violence.
There is also need to train the circumcisers and at the same time bring in the aspect of the law in Kenya and Gender based violence. The process has to involve community elders who make decisions at the community levels. What the girls in pastoralist communities need is the freedom from the confines of identity that are attributed to very harmful cultural practices such as beading and abortion, early and forced marriages and Female Genital Mutilation. More over these are the same issues that lead to low enrolment and transition rates in schools.
The Camping activity is one of the key components of the Kenya Essential Education Programme funded by UKAID. The project is being implemented in 100 public primary schools in Samburu County. The lead agency for this project in Cordaid who are working in partnership with Caritas Maralal. Other interventions in schools include; Construction of energy saving institutional stoves, dormitories classrooms and sanitation facilities, provision of sanitary towels to needy girls in schools and establishment of school gardens in select schools. The one year project will run till March 2016.

Public Primary Schools in Samburu County Still Have a Long Way To Go.


, , , , ,

Research reveals that there is a strong tie between poverty and low enrolment in Kenya’s Schools. The introduction of free primary education in 2003 saw an increase in enrolment of 1.2 million pupils (Bold et al, 2010, p.293-94). However, this is not enough. Enrolment especially in Arid and Semi Arid areas in the country is significantly low.  Authors, (Michael et al , 2011) of the paper on “Access and quality in the Kenyan education system” observed that the introduction of free primary education notably promoted access to education but ancillary costs of education such as school uniforms, textbooks, sanitary towels for girls and distance to schools prevent many parents from investing in their children’s education. The authors further pointed out that provision of high quality education to all parts of Kenya remains a challenge.

A UKAID funded project is being implemented by a lead agency; Cordaid in partnership with Caritas Maralal and IIRR. The project targets 100 public primary schools in Samburu County and the main focus is on climate change mitigation and adaptation with a view of enhancing resilience and increasing access to education. A rapid assessment in 36 schools conducted by Caritas Maralal in June 2015, disclosed that in most schools students have to carry firewood to school and this clearly has a direct impact on the environment. The schools assessed reported that they incur a cost of about 10,000 to 30,000 Kenya shillings per month on fuel. To address this energy saving Jikos and additional domestic stoves have been installed in Ngilai, Baragoi, Lkuroto, Puraa, Lodungokwe, Sura Adoru, Shabaa, Muslim and Maralal Primary schools. Ten artisans from Samburu East, Central and North were identified and trained by experts on installation of the initial eight Institutional stoves. The artisans shall be engaged for the next 9 months to install additional stoves in 31 more schools in the entire county.

Teachers and Students of Sura Adoru Primary School outside their  Kitchen where we constructed an energy saving jiko of 250 litres and an additional domestic stove.

Teachers and Students of Sura Adoru Primary School outside their Kitchen where we installed an energy saving jiko of 250 litres and an additional domestic stove.

In July 2015, Cordaid, IIRR and Caritas Maralal conducted a baseline survey in Samburu East, North and Central. During the survey, it was observed that most public primary schools do not have fences. Some schools had weak and incomplete chain link fences. This raises a concern on the security of the boys and girls especially in boarding schools. Schools Like Marti Primary School have only one functional toilet serving 297 pupils, their kitchen has a worn out energy saving jiko and you could tell that a replacement was urgently needed before a cook got burnt in the process of using it.

One particular school that stood out in Samburu North is Latakweny Primary school located along the Baragoi- Latakweny road about 60 Kilometres from Baragoi town. The school stands on a 25 acre piece of land and has a total of 300 pupils. In most classes the floors are cracked and chipped. Classes have about six to eight wooden desks in them. Their kitchen is a temporary structure that evidently needs a replacement.  The Sub County Public Health officer in a letter to the school stipulated that “the school urgently needs to construct a kitchen and food stores that meet the public health standards as stipulated in Cap 254 Food, Drugs and chemical substance Act laws of Kenya”. Another school that stood out is Amaiya primary school the boarding facilities lacked mattresses and adequate beds. During our discussion with them on their needs, students and teachers in Nachola primary school pointed out that poor enrolment and absenteeism is attributed to poverty, some students lack basics such as uniforms and that results to absenteeism. There is an education policy stating that no child should miss school for lack of a uniform however,school uniforms are an entrenched part of schooling in Kenya which forces parents to keep their children away because they do not have uniforms. Another concern raised was that some students have to trek long distances to school which affects their concentration once they get to class. Most students in the schools assessed pointed out that they urgently needed text books to enable them complete their school assignments in time. They also pointed out that the school feeding program motivates the students to attend school and it’s one other factor that has contributed to increased enrolment and transition rates.

This is a classroom in Latakweny primary School in Samburu North

This is a classroom in Latakweny primary School in Samburu 

However there is a remarkable progress on the installation of solar systems in the schools by the government and other agencies working in Samburu County. Through funding from UKAID this project shall complement their efforts by installing solar panels in 25 Schools. Also through the Constituency Development Fund boarding facilities have been constructed in Marti and Sura Adoru primary schools but the facilities are not functional because they lack mattresses and beds. The project also has a provision for improving existing infrastructure to meet climate proofing standards.

This Project builds on the first phase that was implemented by IIRR in Samburu  East with funding from UKAID. A similar dormitory shall be constructed in one of the 100 target schools in the current Phase.

This Project builds on the first phase that was implemented by IIRR in Samburu East with funding from UKAID. A similar dormitory shall be constructed in one of the 100 target schools in the current Phase.

Following the needs assessment conducted in June 2015 and the baseline survey conducted in July 2015 in Samburu County’s public primary schools we shall share our findings with all actors to validate the findings of the survey, identify possible opportunities for partnership and also mobilize resources from the county government and other agencies. We hope that even after this project phases out in nine months the schools shall still continue to get the assistance that they really need from other actors.

Cordaid, Caritas Maralal and IIRR partner with Samburu County’s public primary schools to Increase enrolment


, , , , , ,

Samburu County is among the poorest in Kenya with 73% of its estimated population of 223,947 living below poverty line according to (KIHBS 2009). Insecurity related to cattle rustling and highway banditry continues to disrupt livelihoods strategies within the County. Inter-ethnic clashes are endemic and as a result, this year a number of schools and markets have been closed in Samburu North. Poor roads and telecommunication infrastructure remain the greatest challenge to the residents of Samburu County. The exorbitant price of food commodities due the poor road network erodes household purchasing power thus making the terms of trade totally unfavorable to the population.

Cordaid, IIRR  and Caritas Maralal are implementing a UKAID funded project targeting 100 public primary schools in Samburu County. The project further covers other counties of Marsabit, Mandera, Tana River,Wajir and Informal settlements and urban slums in Nairobi and Mombasa. It builds on previous lessons and achievements of projects funded by UKAID. The project goal is to significantly improve enrolment, attendance and retention through climate change mitigation and adaptation activities in the primary schools. The project is expected to run from June 2015 – March 2016.

Research shows that schools in Samburu County need interventions from each and every stakeholder in education. This shall assist to increase enrollment, retention and completion rates. A schools’ needs assessment conducted by Caritas Maralal in June 2015, revealed that enrolment in schools is very low. It was also observed that a majority of the schools lack hand washing facilities which raises concerns about hygiene in schools. The schools with boarding facilities lack adequate water supply because they depend on roof catchments as the main source of water; rainfall in Samburu is erratic.  The boarding facilities also lack adequate mattresses. All schools assessed had semi permanent classes and lack adequate desks. In Sura Adoru and Marti Primary schools there are structures set up by the Community Development Fund (CDF) to serve as  dormitories but they lack facilities such as beds and mattresses.

A head teacher pointed out that her school needs a boarding facility to combat cultural practices such as beading, early and forced marriages that are endemic in the area and to ensure retention. Girls spend evenings singing for Morans and these “night” activities impact negatively on their attention in class. Cases of early pregnancies are rampant and if the girls can be retained in school through setting up a boarding facility, these issues shall be prevented.

A 2013 publication by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and Society for International Development (SID) on “Exploring Kenya’s Inequality: Pulling Apart or Pulling Together?” reveals that, a total of 26% of Samburu County residents have a primary level of education only. The publication further discloses that only 6% of Samburu County residents have a secondary level of education or above and that a total of 68% of Samburu County residents have no formal education.

Based on the needs assessment a number of activities shall be implemented in the target schools. They shall range from Solar Installation, setting up of roof catchments for rain water harvesting, fabrication of energy saving jikos in schools, rehabilitation of existing infrastructure such as classes, establishment of school gardens and tree nurseries, distribution of desks and formation and strengthening of existing environmental Clubs. Some selected schools shall benefit from construction of climate friendly classrooms and dormitories, distribution of sanitary pads and learning sessions on gender based violence in girl camps. The project shall also create awareness in the education sector through strengthening coordination and networking between the government and all actors in education.

siambu primary school kitchen

We shall replace these types of jikos with the energy saving institutional stoves in 33 schools.

We shall replace these types of jikos with the energy saving institutional stoves in 33 schools.

A domestic stove has been set up in Sura Adoru Primary School.  These types of stoves have been also set up in Ngilai primary School and Baragoi primary school. Construction is on going in Lodungokwe and Puraa Primary Schools.

A domestic stove has been set up in Sura Adoru Primary School. These types of stoves have been also set up in Ngilai , Baragoi , Lodungokwe, Puraa , shabaa, Muslim and Maralal Primary Schools.

The importance of access to a well functioning education system in Samburu County cannot be over emphasized. Education is key in improving people’s welfare and an avenue to foster peace in Samburu county. From the needs assessment the schools lack adequate facilities to run their day to day operations and it is evident that this new project is relevant. The head teachers interviewed are looking forward to any possible interventions in their schools.


The Importance of Gender in WASH projects.


, , , , ,

Most of the world’s 1.2 billion poor people, two thirds of whom are women, live in water-scarce countries and do not have access to safe and reliable supplies of water for productive and domestic uses (IFAD 2001a). The bulk of these rural poor people are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the regions which are also home to most of the world’s water poor (Molden 2007).

One third of the world’s population is currently experiencing some kind of physical or economic water scarcity. A growing competition for water from different sectors, including industry, agriculture, power generation, domestic use, and the environment, is making it difficult for poor people to access this scarce resource for productive, consumptive and social uses. In water-scarce regions and countries, inequity in access to water resources is increasing because of competition for limited resources, and this particularly affects poor rural people, especially women. (International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD): http://www.ifad.org/gender/thematic/water/gender_water.pdf)
According to baseline data collected for the “RIPAT for peace project” implemented by a CAFOD Partner – Caritas Maralal , availability of a water source in a village does not guarantee safety for those who need to access water for livestock, farming or household use. Safety is determined by tribe. Some sources of water are only safe for Samburus, others only safe for Turkanas and others solely safe for Pokots.

It is estimated that women in many developing countries walk for an average of about 6 kilometres a day to collect water (UNFA 2002). When water supplies are scarce women have to look for alternatives. They also take care of house hold members who suffer from water borne diseases. Access to clean and safe water reduces tasks for women and girls. In Maralal town, in Samburu County; girls in Loikas boarding school have to leave the school compound to fetch water from a well, that is 1km away, for laundry and personal use. This does not guarantee safety of the girls as they interact with the neighboring communities, it eats up time that they would have used for studying and when they get tired because of covering some distance to fetch water it affects their learning pattern. During drought the students have to share scarce water with the community.
CAFOD in partnership with Caritas Maralal have implemented a number of water projects in Samburu. They include drilling of community boreholes in Charda, Lekiji and Remote, Rehabilitation of rock catchments in Lpus, Mabati , Nkorika and Lodukome. According to a Hazard Vulnerability and Capacity assessment conducted in Lchoro Lelerai in January 2015, Water Borne diseases are among the hazards that affect people of this village. That is about 25 Kilometres from Maralal town and about 5 Kilometres from Kisima Health centre. Women are charged with the task of fetching water for domestic and livestock use. The village has an earth dam that is not functional and all participants said that they do not have toilets. They have resorted to open defecation.
Through the CAFOD supported Integrated Food Security project we plan to rehabilitate earth dams in Lolmolog, Lpuss in year one and 2. Also we have formed seven Community Resource management committees in Lolmolog, Angata, Kirimon, Porro, Lekiji, Remote and Lchakwai. Part of their responsibility is to advocate for issues that affect their community. These issues include as scarcity of water and also draw up action points on how to address these issues.

Through the Match Funds project, CAFOD has funded the provision of bio sand filters in Amaiya. The cholera outbreak in 2010 claimed the lives of about 100 people in this village. In 2015, the people source water for domestic and livestock use in one river. Take a walk in Amaiya and you’ll see people taking a bath in this river up stream, go further down you’ll see others doing laundry in the same river and go further down you’ll see livestock taking water and other people fetching water for domestic use. Clean and safe drinking water is a far cry from reality in some region of Northern Kenya.

As we work to ensure that the communities we serve are food secure even during times of drought we must also work to achieve a gender balance through meeting the practical and strategic, needs and interests, of women and girls. Women in developing countries need to access clean and safe drinking water and their security should also be guaranteed. Also, they need to be involved in community decision making. Women and girls should also be key informants during needs assessments that are carried out to Identify the priority needs of the community.

People of Amaiya Need to Access Safe and Clean Drinking Water.


, , , , , , , , ,

In June 2014, Caritas Maralal in Partnership with Responding to Conflict (RTC) and Research, Community and Organisational Development Associates (RECODA) launched the Rural Initiatives for Participatory Agricultural Transformation) “RIPAT For Peace” Project in Samburu County. The project is funded by Rockwool Foundation and is being implemented in Baragoi, Marti, Amaiya, Longewan and Plesian.
The rationale behind RIPAT for peace is the argument that food security and violent conflict can be interlinked, and that this dynamic is impacted upon by structural and developmental challenges. Hazards such as drought in Samburu County negatively affect capacities and opportunities to build and maintain secure and healthy communities. RIPAT for Peace uses a strategy that employs a low-tech and sustainable community driven and owned approach to integrating livelihood development and peace building.
According to the project’s baseline survey led by Dr Nick Lewer of Coral Associates LTD, some of the drivers of conflict in Samburu are –amongst others- Cattle rustling , pressure from overgrazing during drought periods, clashes at the county borders, changes in rainfall patterns which means that water resources are stretched and contested due to drought and poor management systems, Vengeance for past raids and killings and roadside banditry.

In 2010 there was a cholera outbreak in Amaiya location that borders East Pokot district and Samburu County. This outbreak claimed the Lives of about 100 people. In Amaya the only source of water is a seasonal river. Communities take a bath , source drinking water for livestock , household use and also do their laundry on this particular river. Water borne diseases such as dystentry are common in this location. Water projects and hygiene and sanitation campaigns should be prioritised by actors in Amaiya and Plesian. The communities need to be trained on basics such as handwashing, water borne diseases prevention and control and the importance of constructing toilets in each household. They also need community managed systems to ensure that people access clean and safe drinking water. Such as supply of water treatment tabs through the Ministry of Health or provision of water filters by active agencies in the areas that include the Catholic Diocese of Maralal- Caritas Office, Child Fund and ACTED.
In the same location, there is no mobile telephone network coverage. There has been cases of conflict between the Samburu and Pokot. These cases of conflict affect access to markets, water points, schools and health centres. However inter and intra ethnic peace meetings thave been facilitated by a number of agencies in the area. Through the RIPAT for peace project 2 groups of farmers have been formed and trained in Amaya and plesian. Open drip irrigation systems have been installed and the groups shall later be introduced to Conservation Agriculture. Also, four groups of 35 people each are now active members of Village Savings and Loans Associations in Longewan and Amaiya.

In some regions in Kenya, tapped water is far cry from reality. Water borne diseases are the order of the day. The only source of livelihoods is pastoralism. To complement the RIPAT for Peace project In Amaiya, Caritas Maralal is currently sourcing funds to drill a bore hole in Amaiya, conduct hygiene and sanitation campaigns by triggering communities to build toilets in each and every household and also train them on hygiene and sanitation. A Pilot project supported by CAFOD to provide bio-sand filters that should facilitate water treatment is ongoing however more needs to be done to ensure that communities live in peace, are food secure and can access clean and safe drinking water. For any leads please get in touch on development@maralalcath.org

In 2015, this is the only source of drinking water for the people of Amaya.

In 2015, this is the only source of drinking water for the people of Amaya.

Community meeting on the use of Bio Sand Filters.

Community meeting on the use of Bio Sand Filters.

Development, Insecurity, Marginalization and “Integration of projects” approach in Samburu County .


, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ministry of Livestock official vaccinates the dairy goats during the distribution in Kirimon.

Ministry of Livestock official vaccinates the dairy goats during the distribution in Kirimon.

According to information obtained in a food security and needs assessment conducted in May 2013 in Samburu, by Caritas Maralal in partnership with CAFOD, various factors contribute to food insecurity among communities. They include; insecurity and conflict, lack of knowledge on better farming practices as well as changing rainfall patterns all contribute to keep many rural communities food insecure.

Reliance on livestock as a main source of livelihood, susceptibility  to droughts, diseases and raids, have seen many of these communities become reliant on food aid most of the year. This is despite the existence of community resources such as land and labour to transform them into food secure communities.

Over the years, Insecurity has been the hindrance of development in Samburu County. Cases of highway banditry, cattle rustling, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, lives lost as a result of inter-ethnic clashes and gender based violence are recurrent. These incidences affect access to markets, access to schools and hospitals, fuel extreme poverty and food insecurity because victims have to relocate and also share scarce resources. These include water points and pasture. It with this view, that in June 2014, the Caritas office launched a CAFOD supported Integrated Food Security Project in Samburu East and Central Sub- Counties. The project aims to transform communities’ ability to produce and access food through an integrated approach that takes into account various challenges that they face in realising this objective. CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The organisation supports a variety of development projects in Caritas Maralal which include: as Sustainable livelihoods, Disaster Risk Reduction, Justice and Peace, Governance, Health and nutrition & Water Hygiene and sanitation. These interventions are aimed at building peace, empowering the Samburu, Pokot and Turkana communities through training them and providing the necessary input for modern farming technologies. This project is working with 8,540 individuals to increase crop productivity through use of effective approaches like setting up demonstration farms and use of drip irrigation technology in Lchakwai and Lolmolog. Farmers are also being taken through intensive capacity building sessions in workshops to increase their capacity to realize better yields. Animal production has also been covered in the project, with communities in Kirimon benefiting from improved breeds for milk production. Five groups in Wamba, Sereolipi and Archers post have been granted loans to support Income generating activities. The project also seeks to strengthen the newly formed Seven Community Resource Management Groups and to increase their participation in governance. Six peace meetings have been held in project sites to offer security for any gains in the project that might be lost due to insecurity. Hygiene and sanitation is also be a key focus to make sure that food secure communities have improved knowledge on improving their hygiene and sanitation status. The Caritas Director – Evans Onyiego- has over 9 years experience as a peace builder. Under his leadership and partnering with stake holders, the church has seen a gradual transformation in areas like Longewan and Amaiya which were famous for being battle grounds. The clashes among the Samburu and Pokot communities have now ceased. Through the integration of sustainable livelihoods, water projects and peace, the communities have embraced farming and can access common markets and water points. Through the Catholic Diocese of Maralal and Other Key actors in Samburu County, Peace meetings among warring communities have yielded the desired results. Also, in view of the increased recognition of the importance of children in peace building, the Church has partnered with organizations to facilitate peace camps for Turkana and Samburu children in primary schools. 15 Green houses have been installed in Samburu central and North. Boreholes have been successfully drilled in Lchakwai, Charda Lekiji, Remote and Lengusaka. It is imperative that development and security work in tandem. Peace building is a continuous process. Integration of projects and processes is a logical step towards changing the lives of the communities we are working with. As a farmer benefits from farming inputs such as green houses and seeds, he also benefits from the results of ongoing peace building initiatives, hygiene and sanitation campaigns, the efforts to empower the communities to manage Disaster Risk Reduction and Water Projects. The Integrated Food Security Project will run for three years and we are positive that we shall see the desired change among the communities we are serving through this project.

Gender issues must be taken into consideration in all stages of development projects.


, , , , , , , ,

The 16 Days of Activism against gender violence is an international campaign. It starts on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25th November and ends on 10 December, Human Rights Day. The campaign hopes to raise awareness on gender based violence prevention and response.
This sort of violence affects men, women, boys and girls in every other culture and society. In Afghanistan 92% women and girls are mostly abused by family members including sexual partners (UNIFEM 2006). In Rwanda between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the genocide and a decade later 67% of the survivors were HIV positive (UN 1996). An average of 48 women are raped every hour in the Democratic republic of Congo (American Journal of public health 2011). Some 3 million women girls face Female Genital mutilation every year. While some 100 to 140 million have already undergone the practice. This harmful cultural practice is forced upon victims who are brainwashed to believe it is an important rite of passage into Woman hood.
Kenya has not made the much needed progress to fight this endemic vice. In Samburu county cases of gender based violence have been prevalent for far too long. Cases of early and forced marriages, physical violence, female genital mutilation and child labor are common, The Catholic Diocese of Maralal in Samburu County, has responded to this by setting up a rescue centre in Suguta Mar Mar Parish premises . Girls who have escaped from their homes or have been rescued find shelter here. The girls depend on the rescue centre for most of their basic needs which include sanitary towels, education, stationery, food, clothing and shelter. The victims also need professional counseling as they get detached from their family upon fleeing from their homes.
A number of development projects are implemented by public and private institutions, NGOs and Faith Based Organisations in Kenya. They are however not complete if gender issues are not being taken into consideration from the projects initiation to phase out stage. While we work to ensure that the communities we target report increased food security at house hold level, are diversifying livelihoods and can access clean drinking water, we must ensure that all voices are heard. Someone has to speak out for the boys and girls who are victims of child labor, the girls who drop out of school at very early age just to get married and the women and girls who walk for long distances to fetch water for house hold use and suffer domestic violence. The voices of the victims of rape who suffer sexual violence and victims of gender violence in rescue centers need to be heard.
Kenya has been reporting too many cases of insecurity recently. As we fight for justice and peace for the victims of gender violence in Kapedo, Baragoi and Mandera in Kenya, let us reflect within ourselves. Let us take this journey of 16 days of activism together. Reflecting on what we can do for the victims of gender violence around us. Look around you, someone did not get the job they deserve just because of their sex, religion, race or tribe. Another one silently suffers domestic violence. A young girl has dropped out of school just to get married while another benefits from her bride price, a victim of Female Genital Mutilation has to live with its effects every day of her life.
As Pope Francis aptly puts it… “What we are called to respect in each person is first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and his political choices. We are therefore called to think speak and write respectfully of the other not only in his presence but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation. Families, schools, religious teaching and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal…

Clearly something can be done to end this endemic vice that is gender violence. It starts with you.

Development and insecurity in Samburu North


, , , , ,

 Lomirok bore hole.

0n 30th October 2013, a student leader of Laikipia University Maralal campus was shot following a peaceful demonstration against the deteriorating security situation in Samburu. In November, two students lost their lives in Loikas the outskirts of the Samburu County headquarters- Maralal after being shot, a Samburu woman was shot in Barsaloi Samburu North. Two Turkana boys also lost their lives after being shot in Baragoi Samburu North. On 9th December a young boy in Nkabai, was attacked by bandits and lost his life. Evidently, Samburu has been at a boiling point with lives being lost to inter ethnic clashes between the Samburus and Turkanas.
Samburu County in North West Kenya is remote, marginalized from mainstream development and lacks basic infrastructure and water facilities. It is classified as Arid and Semi Arid and is affected by frequent droughts which have become severe in the recent years due to climate change. It is also affected by inter-community conflicts mainly resulting from cattle raids and struggle over access to natural resources like pasture and water for livestock during droughts.
Caritas Maralal is the social development arm of the Catholic Diocese of Maralal. The Diocese Implements donor-funded projects in the entire Samburu County. One of the projects is Samburu early recovery water management project in Samburu North. This project is supported by Catholic Relief Services. The goal is to address the short and medium term needs of drought affected communities by creating community structures to manage and operate their water systems while promoting efficient water management to mitigate conflict. The project has so far promoted the construction and rehabilitation of 3 community water facilities .These facilities have immensely improved the communities’ access to clean drinking water and water for livestock. A borehole has been drilled in Lomirok which is projected to yield 2000 litres per hour. This has saved women and young girls the hustle of having to walk for over 15 Kilometres in search of water for domestic use. A gravity system has been rehabilitated in Waso Rongai. The same has been done to a water pan in logetei.
The day to day management of the water facilities is under the responsibility of an elected water management committee. It comprises of 10 members with 40% representation being women in recognition of the role women play in addressing water, sanitation and hygiene needs at household level. This has been done in line with the sensitivity to the cultural beliefs and traditions related to female participation in decision making.
Insecurity is the hindrance of development in the Kenyan Northern frontier. Media reporting on these cases is biased because they lack permanent journalists in Samburu to cover these issues. The media also publishes unconfirmed stories. They sometimes contribute to ethnic profiling and don’t authenticate their information which leads to increased tension. Therefore, relevant authorities do not have a clear representation of what is happening on the ground. Residents of Samburu County are the victims of this worrying trend. The media can play a big role in reducing cases of insecurity if they give the Northern frontier the attention it deserves. The Catholic Church through Integration of activities works on building positive relationships among the communities who are direct and indirect beneficiaries of projects Implemented in the entire Samburu County.

Tomatoes and Peace in Samburu North.


, , , ,

The year 2011 was characterized by drought which saw most areas in Samburu County experiencing below normal rainfall. The ensuing drought resulted in restricted food and livestock production, there were also noteworthy cases of food insecurity and malnutrition in Samburu North District. Consequently there was increased insecurity and inter-ethnic conflicts resulting in displacement of households from Nachola, Ngilai, Elbarta, and Kawop to villages near Northern Samburu (Lolmolog, Angata, and Logorate). Limited access to sufficient water and food insecurity in these areas continued to escalate inter-ethnic conflicts in the region.
In a county where rampant incidences of insecurity has been a bane for far too long, not forgetting the harsh climatic conditions that have made residents remain in a constant grip of famine, Samburu has always been making it to the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The killing of 42 Kenyan police officers by heavily armed cattle raiders was the highlight of the worrying trend of insecurity in the region.
In 2012, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in collaboration with  Caritas Maralal ( The development arm of the Catholic church in Samburu) identified the need to intervene and transform the lives of the communities living in the area through the “promoting peace and resilient livelihoods in Samburu North” Project. One of the immediate results of the said project that is funded by the Vista Hermosa Foundation is that; target communities have adopted improved agricultural and natural resource management practices and youths/warriors engage in community efforts to resolve conflicts through constitutional and/or customary means.
The project targets 2,000 direct beneficiaries and 10,000 indirect beneficiaries and has been working with the communities in Samburu North to improve their agriculture and natural resource management practices and ensuring that the women and youth have adopted sustainable economic practices.

Key activities implemented over the period include; Training of youth groups in market opportunities and identification skills, Launching of Farmer field schools (FFS) where training modules for high value vegetables(Tomatoes, Onions ,Capsicum and Kales) were introduced, Practical training sessions to Partner staffs and beneficiaries on crop management in greenhouses(Seedbed preparation, transplanting, weeding ,staking ,spray and fertilizer regimes), Participating in Peace caravan walks, Facilitating inter-ethnic peace dialogues and Capacity strengthening of village peace committees.
The “Samburu Early recovery water” project that is being run concurrently by Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Maralal has seen the rehabilitation of a gravity water system in Waso Rongai that is supporting production of high value vegetables in Greenhouses and Open drip irrigation systems in Waso Rongai. Further, the interventions have seen an installation of 8 greenhouses and open drip irrigation systems in Tuum, Logetei, Waso rongai, Nachola and Bendera where the communities rely on shallow wells and gravity water systems in production of high value vegetables(Tomatoes,Onions,Kales and Capsicum).
The economy of Samburu District is dependent on livestock and animal husbandry. However as a result of this project, this is gradually changing and communities in Samburu North are now telling a different story. A place that is famous for being a battleground is now a source of household vegetables such as Tomatoes and has created income generation activities for Women and youth.
Before the intervention, Morans from different ethnic backgrounds could hardly talk or meet in the same forums. This is slowly fading out as communities now meet to discuss ideas and share best practices on modern farming technologies in Greenhouses, open drip irrigation systems and marketing strategies as they embrace peaceful coexistence in their villages.
Through engaging the youth and women in productive income generating activities, there is certainly no room for the young Morans to engage in acts like cattle rustling since they have alternative sources of livelihoods. Focus has now shifted from highway banditry, politically instigated violence and negative cultural practices that manifest themselves in discrimination of women in the ownership and control of resources to best marketing strategies and learning from each other regardless of gender and ethnicity. The project has seen increased social interaction among warring communities thus fostering a favorable environment for peace and sustainable development for women and young Morans who have also been empowered economically.

Through selling of the tomatoes, the beneficiaries have disposable income and can understand the dynamics of working in groups for the benefit of everyone involved. This has further strengthened their coping mechanisms, resilience to future droughts and ultimately improved their overall quality of life.
They say that “peace is not absence of war” .However, when you engage warring communities in activities that clearly add significant value to their lives through embracing the concept of conflict sensitivity, more often than not the interventions shall always yield the desired results . In Samburu North, it’s not about the Turkanas, Pokots and the Samburus anymore;it’s about the interventions that have seen Greenhouse Tomatoes as “agents” of peace in Samburu North.