Most of the people FIOH-USA serves in Kenya and Zambia live on less than a dollar a day. Many are subsistence farmers and rely on rain and sun to sustain their food supply. Frequent episodes of drought result in famine and starvation.
Children often go to school with only a cup of tea and lunch is tea and if lucky a small mandazzi (fry cake) This makes learning difficult.
FIOH-USA has sponsored several projects to improve food security.
In rural Usoma Village, Kisumu, Kenya about 550 students attend Usoma Primary School. There is no school lunch program so the students are dismissed to walk home for lunch, sometimes as far as 1.5 miles. They usually return without having had more than a cup of tea. Many are late for the afternoon session due to the distance they need to walk and some don’t even bother to return.
Paul, the coordinator of FIOH-Kenya, saw the need to address this problem. Through coordination with Appoline, the principal of Usoma Primary, they came up with a plan and presented a proposal to FIOH-USA requesting $1,500 to fence and plant a garden at the school.
They involved the parents and the children helped with the planting and tending of the land. The garden is very successful, plus, with the knowledge gained many of the families have started there own small shambas (gardens).
Linda and Ellen, Board members of FIOH-USA, visited the garden in 2016 and were very impressed with it’s success. They recommended that more funding be requested so that the garden could be expanded to plant enough crops to feed the entire school population. FIOHK prepared another proposal regarding the expansion and those crops are now growing. The children’s attendance, due to less illness, and grades are improving.
Another project is in the village of Shaibila, Zambia. Like many rural households in Zambia, the 20 plus households in the Nyenje settlement of Mkushi District in central Zambia depended on agriculture and livestock rearing for their livelihoods. This hard working group of settlers had been able to grow enough food to last for the whole year until the next harvest due to their fertile land and the availability of pasture for their livestock. This changed in 2015 when there was a partial drought and the crop failed, resulting in a food shortage. Further, due to the loss of the crop, the households were unable to buy seed to plant potentially leading to a vicious circle of food insecurity.
Maureen Hamiyanze, the coordinator of FIOH-Zambia sent FIOH-USA a proposal requesting $3000 to address the lack of food security in Shabila. With these funds the villagers were able to purchase food to prevent immediate starvation and fertilizer and seeds to plant for the next year. FIOH-Zambia also purchased 5 breeding chickens for each of the 20 households. This project was very successful and as of 2017 the villagers are healthy and produced a good crop in 2016 allowing them to again be self-sustaining.