In recent years, parts of Kenya have been beset by violence, droughts and floods – highlighting how precarious life is for poor communities here. Almost half the population cannot rely on having food all year round, and in the Western Province, where Send a Cow provides support, that figure is even higher.
Yet with training, plus good quality cows and goats from Send a Cow, families in this remote and poor region are now managing to produce enough food. They are earning an income to send their children to school, and building themselves secure livelihoods and stronger communities.
Many of the families we work with in Kenya are affected by HIV/Aids, which is widespread in the Western Province. We also support many widows and disabled people here, helping them overcome stigma and fulfil their potential.
Send a Cow works in Kenya through our partner, the non-governmental organisation Heifer Kenya.
“After getting the cow and organic farming knowledge, our life has changed so much. Before we started using the manure we would get between seven to nine bags of maize. Last year, we got 22 bags. We can now see there’s a future.”
According to Alice Wafula, life used to be “not all that good. We couldn’t do anything.” She and her husband Job could grow only just enough maize to feed themselves and their son Samuel, and had none left over to sell. They could not afford to buy livestock.
When their community approached Send a Cow for assistance, all that began to change. They started training in animal husbandry and natural farming. They built shelters for livestock, and grew fodder grass. Finally, in December 2006, Alice and Job received a dairy cow – and began getting 15-18 litres of milk a day.
That milk provides much-needed nourishment and an income. The cow’s manure boosts their soil fertility, and enables them to increase their maize yields, introduce bananas, and grow all sorts of vegetables – another vital source of income.
“Manure is good, because it’s not expensive, it improves the soil, and it improves the environment,” says Job. “Beforehand, in the dry season we couldn’t produce anything. Now we know we will get crops and have a steady income. We can save money for Samuel’s future.”
The couple also credits Send a Cow training with strengthening their marriage. Alice has suffered several miscarriages, prompting Job’s family to tell him he should leave her. Gender equality training has bolstered Job’s conviction that they are wrong. “She is a good wife,” he says.
Now the Wafulas are passing on their good fortune. They have already passed on a calf to another family in need, and estimate that 10-15 other families have adopted their natural farming methods. So the cow and training provided by UK donors back in 2006 are continuing to help families in Western Kenya change their lives today.