INDEPTH: A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE|
Inquiry: Farmers in Kenya
CBC News Online | February 17, 2004
Reporter: Karen Mair | Mukurwe-ini, Kenya
Poverty, malnutrition and disease are facts of life for many people in Africa. The problems are so severe it's hard to know where to begin.
But a group from Prince Edward Island hasn't let that stop them. For the past 25 years, Farmers Helping Farmers, has worked on small agriculture projects in Kenya and Tanzania.
Life for rural women in Kenya has always been tough. They do most of the farm work and look after the family. Most of their day was spent walking kilometres just to collect water. They had little time and energy left for their children or anything else.
Then came relief. Farmers Helping Farmers, along with the Canadian International Development Agency, paid for 61 individual water tanks.
Now water is collected right outside their door when it rains.
"Because they are not carrying those jerry cans [of water] with their backs, the tanks have meant a lot of difference because even the health of the women has really improved and they feel happy," says Jennifer Morogocho of the Muchui Women's Co-op.
For 25 years a small group of volunteers from P.E.I. have made the long journey to Kenya to assist farmers with some basic but desperately needed help, small things that have made a big difference.
"And I see this big garden with fruit and vegetables, a tree nursery and there is a large percentage of the annual food supply coming out of this garden," says Winston Johnson, president of Farmers Helping Farmers.
Milk production is an essential industry in Kenya. Most herds are small, two or three cows on a farm. Collecting the milk and getting it to a dairy before it goes bad in the hot sun is a problem.
Farmers Helping Farmers came up with a solution. The group helped pay for a cooling tank. Now these women take their few litres a day to a co-operative where the milk is kept cool until it's shipped to a big dairy to be processed.
When the farmers have an agricultural problem there is often no one to turn to. The government of Kenya is plagued with a corrupt bureaucracy. It doesn't provide any financial assistance or hands-on expertise.
Over the past 25 years the agricultural experts with Farmers Helping Farmers have found their Kenyan friends hungry for knowledge and eager to learn ways of improving their lives.
"They now have clean water at their homes," says Teresa Mellish, a co-ordinator for Farmers Helping Farmers. "They have more time to do other things. Their children are cleaner, so they can go to school cleaner. So it makes me feel very happy."
Farmers Helping Farmers knows it can't solve all the problems. But it has proven that by helping individual farmers fix little ones, their future is a little brighter.
CUSO tracks volunteers from: |
AFS Interculture Canada
Canadian Crossroads International.
Canada World Youth.
Centre for International Studies and Cooperation
Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO).
SUCO - Solidarité Union Coopération
VSO Voluntary Services Overseas Canada
World University Service of Canada (WUSC).
Collectively, our organizations send or receive more than 3,000 volunteers each year and remain in touch with more than 60,000 returned volunteers. These figures include significant numbers of volunteers from the South, but by and large they represent Canadians so concerned about the disparity between life here and life in poorer countries that they are willing to give up weeks, months or even years of their time to improve the world. Through our network of members and volunteers, we reach into almost every community in Canada, coast to coast to coast. Ours is a real, concrete presence for Canada around the world, often the only Canadian presence outside of capitals, or even in some entire countries.