Samuel Kangethe, Community Empowerment through Sustainable and Bio-Intensive Agriculture(CESBA)
Samuel Kangethe is a social worker who has been working for the past 15 years with orphans and vulnerable children programs in the areas around Nairobi, especially in the slums. In an effort to help his community, he traveled to the United States and attended an eight-month Bio intensive and cultural exchange program/internship study with Ecology Action, a non-profit IRS 501(c)3 organization in California, USA. Using a grant from Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture, during this internship he acquired precious skills that he wants to pass to his community members in order to uplift the living standards of their people. Agriculture is the backbone of the economy in Kenya and the major employer of Kenyan youth and women. Most of Kenya’s farmers own less than half an acre of land. Changes in the laws favoring large corporations, combined with markedly reduced rainfall and increased temperatures caused by climate change, have made conventional agricultural practices increasingly difficult, uneconomical, and unsustainable for small farmers.
Samuel’s community (Rongai and Kiserian) is made up of two small and upcoming towns in the larger Kajiado County. Due to their proximity to Kenya’s capital city Nairobi, many people have been migrating from other parts of Kenya and settling there in recent years. This has led to the mushrooming of informal settlements as people arrive because they had high hopes of finding better lives in these small towns. Unfortunately, these migrants have mostly ended up desperate, homeless, and unemployed; this has in turn led to low self-esteem, increased rates of theft crimes, domestic violence, increasing spread of HIV/AIDS, lack of health care, higher rates of drug abuse, widespread malnutrition, and rapid deforestation as desperate people seek to survive. Many children don’t attend school regularly due to hunger and lack of proper clothes, and many families cannot afford three meals a day.
The infrastructure and environment have also borne considerable negative impacts, such as increased water pollution, as the human population rapidly increases. Currently over 1,000 households/families in his community are on a starvation track. CESBA project has resolved to work with the local community and teach them how to sustainably grow food in a manner that produces much more food per acre than conventional practices, yet without any chemicals or artificial amendments. The method Samuel has learned uses considerably less water than conventional approaches and rapidly builds up the fertility of the soil.
He will teach his community about this proven method, and they will create an eco-village where they can sustainably support people and create new ways for them to support themselves and their families. This eco-village will serve as a model for other local communities; they will teach the teachers who then go on to inform other communities about the proven ways they can feed themselves in these desperate times. Food and nutrition will also be a key pillar of their training to curb rampant cases of malnutrition for children under the age of 5 years in the society.