|The Courier N° 130 Nov - Dec 1991 - Dossier: Oil - Reports: Kenya - The Comoros (EC Courier, 1991, 96 p.)|
|Kenya - Democracy: winning the hearts and minds of wananchi|
The European Communitys development impact in Kenya is real and widely appreciated, from officials in Nairobi through District Officers down to the Maasai herdsman or the Kikuyu small farmer. This is not so much due to large-scale projects and programmes of which there is no shortage, as to the numerous micro-projects designed to solve the basic problems of the grassroots Kenyan. There are well over 90 EC-financed micro-projects throughout the country and more are on the drawing beard. The Courier visited two: the Kisamis mini-dam and the Mary Hill mini-project in Kiambu.
The Kisamis dam
Located in the Maasai country, this project had its origin in a group of American nuns who visited the area in the early 1980s. The nuns wanted to know what the inhabitants wanted most. They were told it was water, not surprisingly because the area is semi-arid and herdsmen usually walked long distances in search of water for themselves and their animals. The latter were dying in large numbers especially in times of drought. This gave rise to the idea to build a dam across a small valley through which torrents of water rushed during the rainy season. The nuns had no money, but their idea appealed to the District Officer who submitted it to Nairobi and from Nairobi to Brussels for financing. Work on building the mini-dam began late in 1985 and was completed in 1987. Since then, the lives of the inhabitants have been dramatically transformed. There is now pipe-borne water in the surrounding villages, and even troughs specially provided for cattle.
The Courier met Apolo Kagwa, chairman of the local committee which was involved in the planning and execution of the project. He is full of praise for the ECs intervention. I have not heard of a single cow which died of thirst since water started flowing, he said. Cattle production has improved as well as the quality of life of the people. Mr Kagwa indicated the population of the area has trebled as the normally nomadic Maasai settle down thanks to the availability of water. But this is creating a problem of its own: overgrazing is occurring, especially on the slopes of the valley and this has provoked serious erosion which brings down large quantities of mud into the lake, silting it up and reducing the volume of water.
Mr Kagwa suggests, as a solution, the fencing off of the dam and the banning of grazing around it. Asked why he could not organise that himself, he said that the Chief, whose official responsibility the dam was, was constantly absent from the district. Officials at the Ministry of Finance in Nairobi, who are responsible for the project at the national level, are aware of the problem. They admit that one element that was absent in the Kisamis project (an element that is now taken into consideration in new microprojects) is training for post-project maintenance The case of Kisamis will be rectified, they said.
Mary Hill mini-project
Mary Hill is a residential girls secondary school in Kiambu district, which was founded as far back as 1933 by a group of missionary sisters. The school was later handed over to the government with an important asset - land amounting to approximately 50 acres of which 20 are being used for coffee growing, horticulture and livestock rearing.
In 1981 the school introduced agriculture as an examinable subject. With the change in Kenyas educational system, ie the introduction of the 8-4-4 system in 1984, which lays heavy emphasis on practical agricultural skills for self-reliance, the schools Board of Governors decided to expand the discipline. It drew up an integrated project which included irrigation and water supply, a coffee factory, an agricultural workshop, farm equipment, a Home Science block and staff houses. EC financing was sought to the tune of Ksh 4267 180 while parents of the pupils and the government have to provide Ksh 1 450000. The enthusiasm of the parents for this project was clearly shown in the manner they carried out their share. This was the construction of the Headmistresss house in record time. The project which began in 1988 has been completed and the commissioning was being held up by power supply problem, at the time of The Couriers visit.
What is striking about the Mary Hill project is the fact that it is expected to have a nationwide impact and that it is designed to enable the school not only to be self-sufficient in food but also to be self-financing.
Mary Hill has 500 pupils chosen from all over Kenya, on the basis of an entrance examination. From its horticultural garden it is expected to procure its own needs in vegetables. It can have beef from its livestock rearing and above all derive a higher income from its coffee.
Although Mary Hill has been selling its coffee directly to the Coffee Board, it has been doing so with it unprocessed. The factory component of this project will enable the school to give value-added to the product. The factory could also bring in additional income by processing coffee for farmers in the area, by giving value added to the farmers product and improving their income.
Every single pupil of the school has been made aware of the ECs contribution to their education and they have expressed their gratitude through The Courier to the European Community.