Digging in to help Africa

Food security is a major issue in Africa. The cost of living in East African countries has risen substantially over the past couple of years and, coupled with erratic climate changes, this has resulted in a situation where people who are already living on the edge are having trouble affording basic foods, let alone nutritious diets.

The CanAssist African Relief Trust has sponsored  school garden projects that have been very successful. Our first project related to this was with the Kanyala Little Stars school on Rusinga Island, Kenya. The first step in starting a garden here was to put up fencing to keep hippos and other grazing domestic animals like donkeys and goats out of the garden. If you think think squirrels and rabbits are a garden nuisance, imagine the havoc that can be created by a family of hippos lumbering up from Lake Victoria to graze overnight. For the Little Stars garden,  CanAssist also arranged appropriate irrigation through a pump and sprinkler system and set up a work shed, toilets and provided seeds and fertilizer. The garden has proven to be a great boon to the school and community, now producing fruits and vegetables that supply the school children with better nourishment, and provide a bit of extra income to help with other school expenses, provide nutritious supplements to needy families in the community at reasonable cost. It has worked well.

In other schools in Kenya and Uganda we have supported similar projects which are also proving to be equally successful.

Earlier this year, we also helped a local youth group in Migori district of Kenya and this week we received an encouraging report from Edward Kabaka, director of Rieko Kenya, a local development organizaton.

The Nyaruanda Youth group provides the manpower to till and maintain their local garden.

“The Nyaruanda Youth Development Group is a community based initiative started in March 2010 in south Kadem Location, Nyatike District in Kenya. It was started by a group of orphaned youths who were left behind as head of households in their families. When they were 10-12 years old, many of them lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. They have graduated to replace their deceased parents in roles of fending for their siblings. As they grew up together, they realized that they were facing the same challenges and started organizing themselves in small groups. They need to provide food, clothing, shelter, medical care and above all schooling for their families.

A first harvest of Tomatoes, Watermelons and Sukuma wiki (a staple African green rich in iron and vitamins) from the CanAssist-supported Nyarunda Youth Group garden.

In the beginning of 2012, Rieko Kenya had the opportunity to be visited by John Geddes, the Executive Director of CanAssist African Relief Trust (CAART). Rieko Kenya considered Nyaruanda Youth as one of the groups to be visited by John. John agreed to present an application to CAART to help support the group, through Rieko Kenya, with small scale irrigation equipment and materials. The support from CAART was realized with Rieko Kenya providing training and facilitating the purchase of the irrigation equipment and materials (Water pump and pipes) and presented to the group. After a period of a half a year and following this life saving and transforming support, the Nyaruanda group is very excited and happy to report a huge financial gain. They are now able to be self reliant and meet their financial obligations.”

CanAssist is delighted that these local agriculture projects are not only providing better nutrition to communities; they are helping to stimulate economic development.

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