In the early 1990s, Ikombe Division, like many other dry parts of Yatta District, was vast, rocky and perhaps known for all the wrong reasons –poverty, yawning illiteracy rates and biting hunger. Determined not to live in this desperate situation, the community made a resolve to improve their lives by starting a Community Based Organisation called Makutano Community Development Association (MCDA)
The group highlighted food security and lack of water as their main hindrances to self sufficiency. With that, the community jointly with KCDF embarked on a low cost water harvesting project that involved sinking a borehole , digging shallow wells and initiating basic water harvesting techniques like roof top harvesting to tap run-off water during rainy seasons.
At present, the MCDA has facilitated the construction of an nine dams and 17 sub-service wells through a combination of community and external resources. In addition, many villagers have constructed small water pans and are engaged in rainwater-harvesting techniques to supplement household water consumption.
“Despite the area being dry, we have been able as a group to grow crops through irrigation thanks to the water that we have been able to store through the water reservoirs we constructed all year round”. Says Raphael Masika, the chairperson of the group.
“Through Ustawi, we embarked on green house farming after receiving two green houses from KCDF. We are now serving at least 85,000 locals in 84 community based organisations affiliated to the MCDA”, adds Masika.
To combat hunger, the organisation has also been working with communities to grow drought resistant crops like sorghum and millet and also keep dairy goats. The organisation is a good case study on how communities can address the challenge of cereals glut thanks to a community store that can hold 5000 bags of maize.