Thanks to the incredible generosity of everyone have donated to the East Africa Crisis Appeal, ActionAid has supported over 128,600 people so far across Kenya, Somaliland and Ethiopia. In Kenya, ActionAid has supported over 98,000 people. Our local staff are there on the ground now distributing food, including rice, oil and beans, constructing water tanks and rehabilitating boreholes so that communities can get access to water. Find out how your donations are making a huge difference in Kenya right now.
Luijah, pictured below, is the Project Monitor for ActionAid Kenya's Food for Assets programme in Oldonyiro, in Isiolo County. She coordinates six food distribution points in this region, which has been hit hard by drought.
How Food for Assets supports women
The Food for Assets programme supports the poorest and most vulnerable women by providing them with maize, sorghum (a grain), split peas and vegetable oil to feed their families. In return, the women work for up to 12 days a month on projects to help the community, including water conservation, preparing the land for planting crops and building fences.
Every part of the programme is run by women, from Luijah's work coordinating and managing the distributions, to the committee of local women who measure out the food and log the work carried out. The women also run a complaint committee within the community to handle any issues that come about.
Luijah says: “I feel great about being a strong female leader in the community. With Food for Assets, women are becoming more empowered in their household, they are managing the food. Men used to be in charge of the money so women didn’t have control.”
“I’ve seen lots of changes in the communities, women want to work and gain independence. Women are more empowered and able to support their families… they want to send their children to school. Children have more stable lives and are given an education. I feel great doing my job.”
Drought is hitting women hard
Women in Oldonyiro are expected to carry out many tasks from fetching water, buying food, working to generate an income, looking after their children, and cooking for their family. With the drought, their roles have become even harder.
Eunice, 8, and Irene, 5, (pictured above) are two half-sisters who are benefiting from the Food for Assets programme run by Luijah. Their mother Ntamanyua is bringing them up alone, as Eunice's father died when she was very young, and Irene's father has never taken any responsibility for her.
Ntamanyua said that raising her girls by herself is difficult. "It has always been very hard because I cannot always find work. With no rains, it is even harder now."
She was suffering from pneumonia on the day of the food distribution, so Irene and Eunice went to collect their share for the household. When asked how she would feed her children without the provisions being provided through Food for Assets, Ntamanyua replied: "I do not know what I would do. I cannot think about it."
Creating long term change in communities
The Food for Assets programme is helping to meet urgent need in Kenya right now. But it also has long term impacts in communities, building networks across the community for the women. It has helped to create “Table Banking” groups, where women contribute what they can afford each week and money is shared for whoever needs it the most for things including urgent medical care, school fees and buying chickens to enable women to be more self-sufficient.
How your donations are making a difference
We wouldn't be able to do this work without the generosity of supporters like you. With your help, we can reach more people who desparately need food and water right now. And we will also be helping communities to become more resilient to crises like this in the long term. Please donate now so that our staff like Luijah are able to support more women who are at risk right now.
Photo credits: Alice Oldenburg/ActionAid