Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Building a Unique Solution to Food Security Issues in Tsavo West

Issues of food security comprise one of the most critical challenges facing numerous communities throughout Kenya and the entire East African region. Over the past three years, maize shortages throughout Kenya have dominated headlines and had a significant impact upon the accessibility of Kenya’s staple commodity to many families. The effect of maize shortages and subsequent fluctuations of maize prices has had a particularly negative effect on those households located in semi-arid and arid regions where subsistence farming is not a reliable option.

Maize crops in Mahandakini

In recent times, households in the semi-arid region of Taveta, in South Central Kenya, have faced ongoing hardship as a result of food shortages. In 2008, failed harvests and country wide maize shortages saw the price of maize in Taveta increase by almost 20%; such price increases are expected to occur again in coming years. Not only do such price fluctuations have a negative impact on the overall health and standards of living of households in affected areas, they also increase pressures on communities to engage in environmentally damaging practices as a means of generating an income.

One community group of ex-poachers in the Taveta region has, however, developed a community based solution to overcome maize shortages and improve household food security in their village of Mahandakini. With the assistance of GVI volunteers and staff, the Mahandakini Youth Network for Animal Rights and Welfare have been formulating a plan to purchase and supply the Mahandakini community with maize at lower and more consistent prices, than general market prices in the Taveta region.

Sara and Steve discuss the location for the proposed grain store

The proposed food security program has been developed over the past year and half; and, with all the foundations set in place the only thing left to do is to build a grain store in Mahandakini. GVI staff recently announced to an overjoyed community group in Mahandakini that they would assist with the construction of the required grain store later this month. Through GVI’s Construction and Sustainable Development Program, GVI staff and volunteers in conjunction with the community of Mahandakini will spend two weeks building the grain store in the village of Mahandakini. The construction of a food security building within the Mahandakini community will not only contribute to long-term household food security in this village, it will also improve standards of living by increasing the time this community has available to engage in sustainable livelihoods. Watch this space for updates on the construction of the grain store and progress of the food security program!