Self Help Group concept transformed me from being a drunkard to a responsible person- The story of Josphat.

josephat member of Komposumban shg

“I have been a member of Komposumban Self help group from 2018. I joined the group through the help of my friend Samson who is also in the same group. We used to hang out together but he became busy all of a sudden making it hard to meet.  I later learnt that he had started a fuel business and was running a barber shop at the center.

I was happy for him but felt sorry for myself. Being a good friend, he directed me to this Self help group that had supported him financially, socially and morally. I was ashamed to be seen with women but when I started attending the farmers meetings and training I became proud of them.

From this group, my life has transformed. I am no longer idle as I used to be because I have started buying and selling goats and has helped my wife start a vegetable store. Apart from this I have learnt to save my money something that was very hard. Through this group, I have stopped taking alcohol.  farmers have been very supportive by helping me invest my money in my business and keeping on following up on me to ensure I don’t relapse.

Currently, I no longer think of getting money to purchase liquor but to save and invest in my small business. This is because I have learnt to have a vision and how to plan and work towards achieving it. I am now close to my family and most especially my wife whom I had neglected for long. I believe that just like me, other men can be helped to redirect their resources from alcohol to developmental projects given a chance. I feel obliged to help others just as I have been helped. I am trying to mobilize other people who are not in groups to form theirs and start pulling their resources together to help each other.”


Bridging the gaps through Self Help group concept- the story of Consepta Cheptum

Concepta Cheptum

“I am a tailor by profession but for a long time my business has been dwindling making it hard for me to feed my six children and meet their daily needs. I had tried visiting schools to get tenders for school uniforms all in vain. However, through the help of Rael, one of my neighbors, my family and I have something to smile about.

Rael helped me join Takaiwa SHG and invited me to use her shop verandah to mend cloths. Since I did not have any work, she would assist me get customers especially those who came to purchase clothes from her shop. Things became better and I could raise some money for food and my weekly savings.

I got my first loan from the self help group and purchased some fabrics for making round skirts which I would later sell on market days. This has seen me expand my business because I also have regular customers who buy the skirts and sells them.

Our live has changed and all this is attributed to SHG through which we have learnt to love and care for each other. If not for SHGs Rael wouldn’t have reached out to me because we were equally poor and languishing in hunger and poverty.

Following in Rael’s foot steps, I have started mobilizing other women to join groups as well. Takaiwa is a dry place and without a source of income to purchase food, it is hard to meet household needs. above these, we need each other and build strong connections because when I succeed it is my obligation to help my neighbor succeed as well.”



SHG Empowering women to venture in businesses for survival-the story of Rael Chesiwa

Rael in her shops

“Before the introduction of Self help group concept in Sekerot, hunger and poverty were real nightmares that threatened lives of residents. My case was not different. I was a house wife with 10 children and depended fully on my husband. In 2018, I learnt of self help groups and how it was empowering women socially and economically.

Through the help of my neighbor who was already in an SHG I joined Gheet SHG. I received a wide range of training but was more impressed with business promotion training. I saw this as a great opportunity to improve my family’s living standards. I approached my husband and requested him to allow me sell one cow to raise some money and take a loan from the group to start a shop. He agreed but on condition that I had to buy him another cow once my business stabilizes. At that moment we were surviving on one meal a day and I was determined to change that.

I started a small shop and it picked so well. I started making a lot of money which helped me repay the loan and even purchase a cow for my husband. I also invested in  a poultry project and started selling chickens and eggs as well. Things changed and we started having three meals a day. I also enrolled my children in good schools because my business was generating enough to cater for our needs.

In December 2018, I took a small loan from the group and invested in a cloths business. This business is also expanding and running well. I have increased my weekly savings from 100 shillings to 600 shillings weekly.

I am encouraging women in my community to join self help groups instead of being idle. Women are the most affected by poverty and hunger and I believe just like me, Self help groups will empower them and their entire families. So far I have mobilized three women who have joined different SHGs and I am glad whenever we meet in the market doing businesses.



Dreams coming True- The story of Christina David

Christina David in her farm

When I shared with members of Tiasis Sub location my plans of venturing into Agriculture, they saw it as a risky venture. I didn’t listen to them because I believed in the Trainings I had received from our trainer Edmond. Apart from SHG concept, he had taken the liberty to train us on Agroforestry, poultry keeping and crops production. Through the group loan, I purchased water pipes and channeled water into my small garden. I started with a portable garden from which I raised kales and spinach. I started getting clients and this motivated me to expand and diversify. I added some black knight shades, cowpeas, spider herbs, more kales and even tomatoes. Apart from this, I planted bananas as well, paw paws, some green grams and cassavas. I only use farm yard manure and animal droppings in my farm to conserve my soil and also reduce production costs. I have seen a lot of benefits from my farming. I have started selling my bananas and preserving some for my children. From the green grams I harvested, I was able to sell part of it and bought chain links for fencing my garden. My garden has become my source of food and income. My neighbors are not walking long distances to get vegetables because I have enough to supply all of them. Recently my neighbor was sick and I took some green bananas to her at no cost. Some neighbors and even some of our farmers have been visiting me to learn how I go about my farming project. It feels nice when people start valuing and involving you by asking for advice and opinions. My husband who had left me for another woman came back recently. Although he is not assisting much, he has started showing interest and sometimes when I am in the farm he joins me. I am proud of myself because through my poultry project, farming and SHG, I am able to make enough money to meet the entire family’s needs from school fees, medical and food.  Unlike the previous years, this year I have not suffered the impact of drought. I am glad and I appreciate Jitokeze for bringing us knowledge and giving us a trainer to assist us.”

How 50 Shillings changed our Lives and made us entrepreneurs- The story of Samson Rionokemer.

“It is common for a woman to follow her husband but not for a husband to follow his wife. I am one such man who decided to follow my wife in pursuit of understanding her secrets to success. I was afraid when she started coming home with some shopping and yet I had not given her any money for it. My curiosity grew beyond bounds when we started having three meals in a day without her asking for monetary support. I asked her what she was doing out of the ordinary and she simply told me she was reaping the fruits of the 50 shillings weekly savings I used to give her. I had no idea how such a small amount would make her accomplish a lot. She had started a petrol business and was planning to have a shop as well.⁣ I started following her to the farmers weekly  meetings and stayed close intending to notice something fishy going on. They welcomed me in the group meetings despite not being a member. I was motivated by their commitment, love and care that they portrayed. I asked them to accept me as a member as well and started making my weekly contributions. I took my first loan and started a barber shop. It didn’t take long before I expanded my business and started charging mobile phones for my clients. I realized that most of the clients had motor bikes and required some fuel. I discussed with my wife and we agreed to have two fuel points. She sells from her shop while I also sell from my shop. This way we managed to capture a large clientele.⁣ I am a happy man because I now have a stable business from which I get approximately 500 shillings daily and can take care of my family. My wife has been very supportive. We bring our profits together and agree on what project to venture into. We have purchased a small parcel of land together from our businesses. As my wife nears her due dates for our fourth born, I am not worried of how we will receive our new born. What we get is enough to sustain our small family.”⁣

National Climate Change Strategy: 9 years on yet Kenyans still die of starvation

Kenya has endured a cycle of droughts and floods, each year the effects being worse than the year before. This year, vulnerable groups are facing starvation as a result of droughts that are ravaging several counties. While the government’s poor planning largely to blame, this issue opens dialogue on the impact of climate change on food security. Nine years ago the Kenyan government launched national climate change response strategy and five years later, it launched the National Climate Change action plan. This seemingly comprehensive and progressive plan took 20 months to produce. It emphasized on strengthening the country’s resilience to climate change and reducing the carbon footprint. Since the launch of this plan, the country continues to suffer through the cycle of droughts and floods. But why? Considering all the effort that has been put into creating the national climate change action plan, five years later, shouldn’t we have made headway in strengthening climate change resilience in the country? Especially among the vulnerable populations? What derails this plan is what ails all the other sectors of our government, a kleptocratic culture, the prioritization of white elephant projects and bad politics. These expensive ailments have led to the current economic bankruptcy, meaning there is no money for the 1.8 trillion to be set aside for the 5 year climate change program. Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika works with vulnerable communities of West Pokot to strengthen their resilience to negative effects of climate change. Food security is one of the most important causes the organization champions. One successful program is the farmer’s empowerment program which empowers women by teaching sustainable agriculture and irrigation methods to ensure that their families have food all year round. By planting drought resistant crops, this program has ensured Lucy Martin and her family have food all year and  also provided them income.  

What is Global Warming?

Global warming is the slow increase in the global temperature of the earth’s atmosphere. Global warming occurs when an increased amount of the sun’s heat energy is trapped within the earth’s atmosphere that is radiated out to space, this is known as the ‘greenhouse effect’. Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika works to increase awareness on global warming within the marginalized communities of West Pokot. By helping to improve agricultural practices, the organization hopes to improve livelihoods and reduce the communities’ carbon footprint and minimize the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is important in ensuring that the earth’s atmosphere is warm and suitable for the emergence and sustenance of all life. Without the greenhouse effect, the earth would be very cold. Global warming occurs because too much of the sun’s heat energy is being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere causing the global temperature to rise. In fact, so much of the sun’s heat is being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere that the global temperature is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Greenhouse gas is a gas that has the capacity to absorb heat energy emitted by the earth and radiating it back to the earth’s surface thereby contributing to the greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide is the highest emitted greenhouse gas at 74%, 57% of which is emitted by fossil use. Other gasses include Methane, nitrous oxide and other fluorinated gases. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) emphasises that is vital to maintaining the temperature increase below 1.5 degree Celsius so that the world would face fewer negative impacts on climate change.

Climate change in Kenya: The cycle of Drought and floods

The cycle is droughts and floods is one that haunts Kenya every year. Heavy rains wreaked havoc across the country in 2017 while in 2018, the country suffered a long, ravaging drought. The floods greatly affected the North Rift region, including West Pokot. As a result of this flooding across the country, many a person lost their homes while some even lost their lives. In 2018, the prolonged drought led to a loss of crop harvests among farmers. In a report by UNICEF, the organization reported that 3 Million people were facing starvation as a consequence of the prolonged drought.  Furthermore, the food insecurity in 2017 and 2018 led to a spike in the cost of food which affected marginalized communities like West Pokot the most. Despite the predictability of this cycle, the irony is that the government and its people are never prepared for it despite numerous warnings from the National Environmental Management and the National Drought Management Authority. This is why Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika’s work in creating awareness to climate change and improving resilience among marginalized communities is so important. In Jitokeze wamama waafrika’s work, the organization believes that the extremes of drought and flooding can be mitigated by proper water harvesting and conservation. Although modern water harvesting techniques are not available in the rural areas of West Pokot, Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika builds sand dams in areas prone to flash floods in orders to improve water security in times of drought.

Climate change in Kenya: Unpredictable Weather Patterns

Climate change has led to changes in weather patterns in Kenya. It has made the weather pattern erratic and unpredictable. Because of climate change, it has become extremely difficult to predict the onset of the rains, the amount of rainfall expected and its duration. Many adults in the country will attest to significant changes in current weather patterns compared to their childhood years. They confirm that the weather patterns have become more erratic making it more difficult to farm and confidently expect a good harvest. Historically, in most parts of the country, long rains begun in March and ended in May. On the other hand, short rains begun in September and ended in October. However, nowadays, it is extremely difficult to predict the onset of the short and long rains. Last year the long rains begun late April while the short rains begun in October. When it rains, it either rains too much or too little. There are years where the country receives very little rainfall leading to droughts followed by year(s) of too much rainfall resulting in floods. The unpredictability of the weather has greatly affected farmers who rely on rainfall for their crops. In March 2018, croplands across the country were destroyed by heavy rainfall. While in 2017, the drought that ravaged the country was declared a national emergency. The drought that begun in December of 2016, left many croplands withered dry from lack of water. According to experts, the high temperatures experienced during the period of drought was as a result of climate change. Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika educates farmers on climate change and also works to protect vulnerable farmers from its adverse effects. Through the white Sorghum white Sorghum project farmers are now able to understand the value of planting the commercial drought resistant crop in times when the weather is unpredictable.  

Women working together to empower each other-The story of Mary Chepakosumoi

Mary Chepakosumoi

“I am the chairlady of Chepongo Self help group which was formed in 2018. My group has a total of 13 farmers and each of them makes a weekly savings of 100 Kenyan shillings. This money has made it possible for women to access quick and low cost loans payable on a monthly basis. Before we started, I used to burn charcoal to generate some income for home expenses and even for school fees. Things were hard considering the fact that nearly everyone is in this charcoal business thus making it sell cheaply. I was forced in some instances to sell some of my animals to get my children back to school. This led to a conflict between me and my husband who does not value education and would rather have the children staying at home than selling a goat or two to pay their fees. Through my group, I have benefited from loans on several occasions which I used to purchase chickens and started a poultry project. I also took a small loan and started a tree nursery project as well. From these two projects, I have seen a lot of benefits. I have already started selling some of my seedlings to farmers whose farms are close to water sources. It is now much easier to get my weekly savings just from selling eggs unlike in the past when I used to struggle. Whenever I have an urgent need, I depend on my group that provides me with quick loans at a small fee. As the chairlady, I am encouraging other farmers in my group to join me in raising the tree seedlings. I Plan to give each of them at least 10 seedlings to plant in their farms as we continue to raise more to sell.”

Self help groups empowering women to fend for themselves -The story of Sharon Chepiatich

Sharon Chepiatich

I had my shop even before Joining a self help group. My husband had helped me set it up but after I had my second born child, things started to change. I would go without money for a long period forcing me to eat into my stock and within a short time, my business collapsed. When I learnt of Self help group, I decided to join. I learnt how to keep the improved breed poultry and I was motivated to take a loan and venture into this project. I started with five hens which were giving me eggs. At first, I would sell all the eggs to raise some money for saving. However as my savings increased, I started accessing bigger loans which helped me revive my business again. My life has improved despite my husband leaving me and marrying a second wife. Through the SHG trainings, I have learnt to plan as mother and through the money I get from shop, I am able to save, meet home expenses and even invest in the poultry project. My business is flourishing and I have even started purchasing eggs from my neighbors and selling them in Makutano town on a weekly basis. Apart from making money, I have also learnt how to live with others and above all taking care of my children and ensuring they get nutritive foods unlike in the past.”

How fashion design and garment making program is freeing young girls from social abuse- The story of Mercy Nekesa.

Mercy Nekesa

“I came to Jitokeze in 2018 to join the fashion design and garment making training. I was lucky to get this opportunity immediately after completing my primary school level but failed to proceed due to financial constraints. My aunt who was a participant in the farmer empowerment program got me admission after she learnt of how my mother and I had been arrested for selling illegal liquor. After my primary exams, I had started helping my mother in brewing her liquor which she would later sell to her customers. During this period, I was exposed to so much evil but I had no way out. My father had left my mother and remarried forcing her to use all means to fend for me and my younger sister. When my aunt learnt of my arrest, she came and picked me and that is how she enrolled me into this course. sewing was a bit hard considering the fact that I wanted to proceed with my secondary education instead but my aunt couldn’t afford the fee. I however developed interest and within six months I had mastered the skill and started enjoying my work. I started getting cheap fabrics from the pocket money that my aunt was giving me to sew dresses for my sister and I. I also asked my aunt for a small portion of her garden and planted kales and capsicum to generate some income. I am hopeful that by the end of this year, I would have raised enough money to register for NITA grade III exams. I always visit my mother and sister when I get a chance during holidays. Though our state has not changed, I am happy am being empowered and I believe my skills will transform our life and my mother will start living a decent life.” Mercy Nekesa.

Bound by culture freed by training and skills development-The story of Mary Chemungen

“I was a victim of my culture where girls are not educated but circumcised at an early age and given out in marriage. I got married when I was only twelve and years later after having five children, my husband became violent, irresponsible and would live us without food for days.

Things got worse when my children were forced to drop out of school. My first son was heart broken and later tried to take his life out of frustration of not being in school. It was at this point that I approached my elder brother who was kind enough to let us in and since then I have been living with his family together with my children.

Although my brother was supporting my children, I started collecting fire wood and selling to get some money and help out. In 2015, I met a young seamstress at our center and I started developing interest in sewing and dress making. She encouraged me to join Jitokeze where she had acquired sewing skills as well as a sewing machine. My brother supported me and in 2016 I joined the tailoring training.

Things were tough considering the fact that I had never been in school all my life. I couldn’t read nor write and when it came to taking measurements I would ask other trainees to help. My trainers encouraged me to join the adult and continuing education training. I started learning and within the first year, I had learnt to do simple calculations, would write and even take measurements for the cloths to be sewed.

During holidays, I would visit my seamstress friend who allowed me use her sewing machine to mend my children’s cloth. She started believing in me and sometimes when she is not around she would call me to man her shop. I got more motivated and in the second year I registered for the basic literacy skills proficiency test as well as the National Industrial Trade Authority exams.

I am happy I did my exams and passed all of them despite being in class for a short time. I feel more confident and I believe once I get capital I will start my own tailoring business and be able to support myself and my children.”


Girl empowerment program, An opportunity for self development among some Jitokeze staff. Sarah Makokha

sarah litoyi Makokha

“I was born and raised in Eldoret Kenya but found my way to West Pokot County. I worked as a house girl but later in 2015 I got employed at Jitokeze as a school chef. I saw this as a good opportunity not only for raising cash but also for self development. I used to cook early to get a chance to attend the adult and continuing education classes which were being offered at the center. It was hard at first considering the fact that I was never taken to school in my childhood. However through hard work and commitment, I started writing and reading and kept on improving. Although I have not sat for the National proficiency tests as other learners, I am contended and happy. Currently I am not worried or scared of carrying out bank transactions as it used to be in the past. I once lost my entire monthly salary when I approached the wrong person to help me withdraw it. Through the adult education, I can carry out simple calculations, draw my own budget and plan for my salary without asking anyone to help. Above that, I have started to monitor my children’s school progress and sometimes assist them with their homework when necessary.”

How SHG helped me build social ties with my neighbors- Yarangiro Kaitalel’s Story

Kaitalel Yarangiro

I was once a member of Karam Omisho before it dissolved in 2017. I approached farmers of Korosion SHG and they accepted my request to join their group. While in this group, I started making my weekly savings and started accessing small loans.

I ventured into tobacco business which picked so well and money started flowing. Unfortunately, people started avoiding me because of this business. It did not bother me so much because making money was what mattered to me then.

however as we continued being trained on the Self help group concept, I realized that success is not only measured in terms of money. I needed to build a social capital and work with other farmers if I wanted to go far. I was father challenged by one farmer who is also a preacher. I started realizing that people are more valuable.

I stopped selling tobacco and ventured into selling chickens. Although I don’t get as much as I used to, I am happy I can join others and discuss issues of development. My family has also united and my wife can move around easily without others sidelining her. In as much as money is important, unity is far much better because when are together we can share ideas and progress together.
My life has transformed and I have even learnt how to dress properly and observe cleanliness because of my business and being around others.”

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Impacts of Easy access to low cost SHG loans -Grace Stephen’s story

Grace Stephen

“I joined Rongosol self help group in February 2018 and that was the changing point of my life. I used to sell beads but more often my business would close down due to lack of money for continuation. The little money I would get from the business would go directly to home expenses.
When I joined the group and started saving, it did not take long before I started getting loans. I would take up to 10,000 shillings to invest in my business and it started to grow. Part of the loan would go into settling bills as well as I wait for the profits.
When my profits started scaling, I reduced the amount of loan and increased my savings. I have started doing development at my home. Recently I purchased water pipes and channeled water to my farm. This is because I want to venture into farming and as a woman it is against our taboo to divert furrow water for irrigation. With constant flow of water am planning to establish a banana plantation and raise vegetables for selling.
My husband is impressed because I am no longer depending on him. He has started helping me and sometimes he gives me more money to save in the group account I am a happy woman and I am proud of my achievements.”
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Women venturing into businesses to sustain their families-Mary Kameur’s Story

Mary Kameur addressing other farmers

Self help group has empowered me to achieve what I never dreamt off. I joined Ngotin SHG in 2017 and one year down the line, I am no longer the poor widow who could not feed, cloth or educate her children. Farmers of Ngotin accepted me and I started making my weekly contribution of 100 shillings.

It was hard for me to get this money at first but when I got my first loan everything changed. I ventured into honey business and my entire life changed.
I started with one bucket of honey but I have progressed to buying over 30 buckets and selling. I have increased my weekly savings from 100 shillings to 500 shillings and still I have more to spend.

I can now afford three meals a day for my children. All of them are in school and I am no longer worried about how they will feed or cloth.

Through SHG, I have transformed into a popular business women. Other women have started approaching me wanting to know my secret. I have started being invited to occasions unlike in the past when they would ignore me because I had nothing to contribute.
I am planning to purchase a piece of land and venture into farming as well because I have also acquired sustainable Agriculture training.”

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Our Tailoring Center a safe haven for socially and psychologically tormented girls -Halima Naulida’s story

Halima Naulida

“I came to Jitokeze in 2016 through the help of Selina Andiema the then field officer Mnagei ward. I knew Jitokeze through my guardian who is also my mother in law. I moved to her home when I got pregnant and my foster parents disowned me. Since I am an orphan with no relatives that I know of, I had no option that to go live with her. Life was hard and no one seemed to care about me. I was more of a house help and when every one left for school I went grazing with my son. My mother in law despised me because of my back ground and kept accusing me of misleading her son who had joined university to continue with his studies. In 2016, she agreed to enroll me for a tailoring course at Jitokeze. I was happy not because I was going back to school but because I had a chance to get away from all the torments she would put me through. I had become so emotional and always fell the victim of her criticism. At Jitokeze, I spent most of my time sewing. I didn’t want to interact because I feared getting hurt or causing trouble. I dreaded going home during holidays but I had no choice. During my second year, my mother in law stopped paying my tuition fee. I worked hard in the production class and luckily by the end of my training I had settled the fee. I had however not raised enough commission to purchase a sewing machine as I had planned. I never lost hope even as I went back home and continued grazing while performing house chores. I later approached my trainers back at Jitokeze and asked them to allow me go back to work in the production class. Although I have not established my business yet, I have peace of mind and I feel contented with my life. I have already raised enough money for a sewing machine and some fabrics but have chosen to just work here. To some reason I have found peace here and everyone around treats me with love something I used to long for. I will still establish my business someday and take my son to live with me.”

Men joining women groups in the quest for development -Peter Chemer’s story

Peter Chamer

“I am a member of Akipor Women group in Batei ward despite being a man. Other men were not willing to form groups and this forced me to join a women’s group instead. I was impressed by the trainings especially on drought tolerant crops and decided to plant some bananas and green grams in my farm.

Most people wondered how my crops were going to survive because of the frequent droughts in our region. I was however lucky to receive a water tank from Jitokeze which has been helpful in irrigating my crops. I also decided to use  manure since I was trained on organic farming and my crops are doing very well.

This year I will harvest twice from my farm. I planted maize and harvested them in July. In August I planted some green grams which are doing well. I have started harvesting my bananas for my family’s consumption. I have also shared with my neighbors who are now ready to learn and implement as well.

Apart from farming, my group made it possible for me to access low cost loans. Through my weekly savings, I acquired a small loan and started a small shop for generating income to meet my family’s needs.

I have achieved a lot since I joined this group and I am not ashamed to be surrounded by women”

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Women transforming their families through SHG financed businesses-Gladys Shamus ‘s story

Gladys at her shop attending to a customer

“I joined Korosion self help group in 2016 because I wanted to be around other farmers and learn from them. We were trained on sustainable agriculture, poultry keeping and self help group concept. I couldn’t venture into framing because I did not have land and was living in a rented house.
Through the self help group my life has changed greatly. We were trained on saving weekly and taking loans to invest in small businesses.

I started by taking a small loan to purchase one bucket of honey which sold quickly earning me some profits. I repaid the loan and requested for more. I continued adding buckets until I started purchasing 20 buckets at once.
The money I would get from my business would offset the loan, offset home expenses, reinvest in the business and enable me save on a weekly business.

Things started to change and I reduced the amount of loan I would take because my profits were scaling up. I managed to purchase a piece of land and built my house and a small shop.
My husband joined me and started helping with cleaning the honey, supplying to our customers and when it is scarce, He would go to get it from our supplier. Our lives became comfortable and our children enrolled to good schools for quality education.
From this business, I have purchased three parcels of land on which I am planning to construct rental houses. I am still a member of Korosion self help group and on meeting days I leave my husband to run the business. If I had stayed alone, I wouldn’t have reached where I am now. It is good for people to learn to pull their resources together and assist each other.”

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Girls transforming their lives through the sewing enterprise- Ruth Chelimo’s story

chelimo ruth

“When I dropped out of school in class three to get married, I thought my life had come to an end. There was no way I was going to defy my father’s orders as that would cost my mother her marriage.

I stayed in that marriage for four years before I got the courage to walk out. I went back home and requested my parents to allow me join a polytechnic for tailoring training. Surprisingly they agreed and enrolled me in Jitokeze in 2015.
I was determined to complete my training and have my own business to cater for my two children. Their father was not contributing towards their upkeep citing my walking out of the marriage as the reason.

During my training, I was lucky to work in the production class and earned myself a sewing machine by the time of graduation. I had no intentions of bothering my parents again and I am glad I didn’t.

I worked extra hard at Jitokeze and raised enough money for purchasing some fabrics to kick start my business. I relocated from Morpus to Lelan where I established my business in partnership with another seamstress.
Though my business is picking slowly, I have started enjoying the benefits. From the profits I make I am able to settle my house rent, home expenses and even save some for emergency.

My children are still staying with my parents but I send them money from time to time. I am planning to take them and enroll them in a school close to me to be able to monitor their education.”

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Elderly Woman in West Pokot engaged in sustainable farming- Elizabeth Limareng’s Story

Elizabeth Rumareng in her kitchen garden

” I Joined Elite in 2015 when I was 63 years old. Despite my age, other farmers were open and agreed to work with me. My interest was on sustainable agriculture because I wanted to increase my farm yields to meet my children’s and grandchildren’s demand. My children moved to the city in search of green pastures leaving me with their children. They send very little help to cater for their children and sometimes they don’t send anything at all. I am forced to even send them food from my farm at times when things are not working well for them.

Being a widow, the whole burden fell on me and I had to find means of using my farm to provide food and income for my family. I was keen with my weekly trainings and sub divided my farm into plots and planted different crops. I ventured into vegetables, tree seedlings and bananas. All these crops are for consumption and for sell to generate income.

Although farm work is tiresome, I have adapted and I have started reaping a lot of benefits from my small portion of land.  I have started selling my yields in the market and my neighbors are purchasing my vegetables. The money generated has improved my living standards a lot. I have even purchased myself two sheep and I believe that my flock is going to grow with time.

Farming is a good project especially to the youths because they have the strength and the and can apply technology. Parents should encourage their children to venture into farming  instead of depending on employment alone.”

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Farmers holding onto Agro-forestry farming practices despite groups dissolving-Sofia Matia’s Story

Mrs Sofia Mathias showing us her seedlings

I was a member of Mosoriot Self Help group before it dissolved. One year after each member went her own way, I am still practicing sustainable agriculture, keeping poultry and raising tree seedlings for selling.

Despite my plot being small, I have managed to raise tree seedlings and planted some fruits in my kitchen garden for consumption. This year I did not produce vegetables for selling due to my deteriorating health. My husband has however stepped in to help me with tree seedlings project. He has seen the benefits of these projects thus sparing some time to help me when I cant do Strenuous tasks.

Apart from raising tree seedlings, I also have a poultry project. I have been selling my chickens and eggs when I need money. From this project, I have raised enough capital to start my stone selling business. I am planning to go back to my vegetable project once I get well. From my experience, I can say that farming is not easy but the fruits are worth the struggle”

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Enjoying the fruits of tailoring and sewing enterprise -Lilian Lomuthono’s story

lilian Lomuthono

“I am a mother of five, married and stays with my husband in Morpus town. I came to Jitokeze in 2015 to pursue tailoring and dress making. Life had been very hard and I did not see a future for my children. I used to cut firewood and burn charcoal to put food on the table. On a good day we would eat two meals a day and when things are bad we would only eat supper. My husband was trying as well but we seemed to be stagnant.

When I learnt of Jitokeze, I sat my husband down and discussed how I could join the tailoring school. Being a class four dropout, my husband laughed at me and brushed me off. I did not get discouraged and approached him the second time. I had already convinced my sister to help look after my children when I join.

He agreed but opposed my children going to my sisters place and instead invited his widowed mother over to stay with them.Life at Jitokeze was not easy but I was not ready to disappoint my husband. I wanted by all means to help my family and that meant humbling myself and learning not only from my teachers but also from other girls. I also joined the adult and continuing education class to learn how to read and write. Within a short period of time, I had started drafting different designs on brown paper and sewing them. My teachers were impressed and this built my confidence.
Before going on my first holiday, my class teacher advised me to work with any seamstress within Morpus and continue sharpening my skills. This was hard considering I had planned to go burn charcoal and collect firewood to cater for my fees. When I reached home, I went to one seamstress and she agreed to give me part time job. I would only go to the shop on evenings to help her while she goes home to rest. During one month, I made enough money to cover my next sessions fees. My husband couldn’t believe it when I told him. He encouraged me and while at school he would follow up on my progress.
I was promoted to production class while still in my first year. This was a miracle to me. Things were turning out well than I had expected. I would earn commission for my sewing machine and during holidays I would work to raise my tuition fee and some money for home expense.
When I graduated in 2016, I had raised enough commission for the purchase of a sewing machine. By then my employer was heavily pregnant and was relocating from Morpus. She leased out her shop to me although she moved with everything. I moved in with my sewing machine and a few fabrics that I had purchased and because most of the clients had gotten used to me they continued coming.
Since I started my own business things have changed for the better. I have enrolled my children to good schools as I had promised them. My family has enough income to sustain us and even save in my Mshwari account. My husband has not stopped doing casual work but he is not as worried as he used to be in the past. We are planning to open a maize store so that he can join me in doing business.

I am also planning to enroll for Grade two exams to increase my chances and competitiveness in this field.”

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Women in West Pokot embracing sustainable farming practices- The story of Jennifer Sortum

Jennifer Sortum's indeginous bananas

“I joined Jitokeze in 2015 through my group Elite Self help group. Before this we had a tree seedling project but we saw the need of getting a trainer and this is How we met Mrs. Perpetual Yator. We were trained on poultry keeping, crops production and Agro forestry. I was motivated and I decided to plant vegetables, beans and bananas in my farm.  I also planted cassavas and sweet potatoes in my retention ditches which also controls soil erosion.

I invested in organic farming and converted my animal wastes into manure and I have seen a lot of benefits from my small garden. Apart from generating Income, My family has access to fresh vegetables unlike in the past when I used to buy from the market.

Apart from crops production, I have also ventured into poultry project. I am rearing chicken to generate income and to improve my family’s nutrition. I was motivated to venture into farming because I needed food for my family and to generate income. “

How have Self-help Groups Improved Income Security within in West Pokot Communities?

The mission of Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika is to strengthen the capacity for climate change resilience among vulnerable people in Kenya and to create awareness about the global sustainability movement. This mission is achieved in tandem with income security among these communities. It’s almost impossible to attain all dimensions of the global sustainability movement without basing on income generation within the affected community.

Female social and economic empowerment in program areas has increased

Self-help groups have had a profound effect in promoting female social and economic empowerment. This is true as the uptake of self-help groups is usually higher among women than men. Women have been able to improve their earning potential and contribute financially to the running of their homes.

Diversification of income at the group and individual level

Improving indigenous chicken productionfruit tree farming, and white sorghum production and marketing these products are but some of the ways that Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika has helped various self-help groups to diversify income both a group and individual level. This is especially important in a community that depends on maize production and cattle keeping as the primary source of income.

Improving literacy

Literacy has been an obstacle facing self-help groups in rural West Pokot. Record keeping is a crucial part in managing self-help groups, especially since finance is integral in the groups’ activities. Literacy has been a challenge for some self-help groups prompting them to mobilize their members and neighbors to seek adult and continuing education together so as to help themselves and their community at large.

Vision building

When training self-help groups, one of the earliest activities the group is encouraged to do is to brainstorm on the group’s mission and vision. The group members are encouraged to write their vision/mission down and use it as a guide in their activities. With the vision in mind, the group members are able to work towards a specific goal.

Business Promotion

The self-help groups have also been useful in marketing members’ produce by pooling their produce and collectively bargaining for better prices. For instance, the groups sell their organic chicken as a group instead of selling as individuals, that way they fetch better prices.

Impact of Self-help Groups in Improving Food Security within Marginalized Communities of West Pokot

Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika’s use of Self-help groups is well received among the participants because SHG’s are not a foreign concept. The community is at the heart of the Pokot culture – as is the case in most rural communities in Kenya. These communities rely heavily on each other to survive in an often difficult and hostile environment. The impact of self-help groups in improving food security has reverberated throughout the community in many ways:

Strengthening resilience to climate change

In line with Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika’s mission to strengthen the capacity for climate change resilience among vulnerable people in Kenya, self-help groups have been instrumental in helping the members of the community understand climate change, its effects, and their role in the global response to climate change. Through the Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika’s tree planting program in West Pokot, various self-help group and members have started fruit tree nurseries and are actively engaging in afforestation while at the same time improving food security.

Crop diversification and nutritional benefits

Self-help group training has enabled the group members to start conversations around health issues- most importantly on nutrition. In West Pokot’s drought-prone areas, many a time emphasis is placed only on avoiding starvation not necessarily on nutrition, but through self-help groups, members are able to discuss and understand the benefits of crop diversification for better nutrition in their homes.

Increase in sustainable agricultural practices

In rural West Pokot, soil erosion combined with the intensive use of inorganic fertilizers has resulted in overall poor soil fertility. In turn, this has led to low crop productivity especially for maize which is the main food crop.

In order to help reverse the impact of detrimental farming practices, Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika, working with self-help groups carry out trainings on sustainable agricultural practices that conserve the soil and improve yield thereby promoting food security.

Self help group opening up diverse opportunities for women in West Pokot County- Rael Makal’s story

Raell Magal infront of her poultry house

” I started working with jitokeze in 2015 when my group got recruited into the farmer empowerment program. During that time, my interest was in table banking because I needed a source of quick and low cost loans.  I however realized that self help group concept was not all about money but sharing ideas and interactions. Through staying together with other farmers, I acquired some poultry skills and decided to venture into poultry keeping. Since I didn’t have any chicken, I purchased 80 chicks and started rearing them using a Chepkube.

All my chicks survived despite the challenges I faced while rearing them. I Have sold 50 mature chickens leaving me with only 22 of them. I have also benefited from selling eggs and consuming them when we face vegetable scarcity.

Apart from Poultry, I have also planted some bananas and avocado. This will help me ensure that my family gets a chance to eat fresh fruits.

When I joined this group of farmers, I had nothing but now i boast of two sheep, some chicken and crops in my farm on top of my weekly savings to the group account.”


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Why is the use of Self Help Groups (SHGs) Significant within Rural Communities in Kenya?

One major advantage of SHGs is that it enables members’ access to loan facilities in areas where banks are not present or in instances where the members do not have collateral. In areas like West Pokot where rural poverty is prevalent, access to formal lending institutions is hindered. Because of Self Help Groups’ informal nature, they become instrumental in helping members’ access credit facilities.

Self Help groups help in information sharing within the group and in the society as a whole. Regular meetings among the group members have the benefit of allowing them to come together and share ideas not only on economic empowerment but also on other issues such as sustainable agriculture, gender-based violence, health, and nutrition.

Self-help groups help to strengthen the existing informal support networks among members of the society. Being a rural society, the sense of community is highly regarded and by bridging to cluster levels, Self-help groups enable members to further increase their social capital.

Livelihood diversification has been strengthened by the use of Self-help groups within the rural communities of West Pokot. Livelihood diversification has been encouraged through the introduction of new income generating activities and training on alternative practices in regards to agriculture and income generation.

Over and above social and economic empowerment of women in rural areas, Self Help groups play a significant role in the mission of Jitokeze Wamama Waafrika in strengthening the capacity for climate change resilience among vulnerable people in Kenya and in creating awareness about the global sustainability movement.

Read more about how self-help groups have impacted the lives of farmers in West Pokot.

Farmers embracing tree seedlings and poultry projects in West Pokot- Sharon’s Story

Sharon Chemnjor in her tree seedlings farm

I started working with Jitokeze in 2015 when I joined Kamerinyang Self Help group. Before Joining the group, I was practicing farming but my yields were not good. I visited my neighbor the then chairman of Kamerinya SHG to learn the farming methods he was applying because his crops were doing exceptionally well.

He advised me to join his group of farmers because they have a full time trainer who trains them on sustainable agriculture, poultry and tree seedlings production. I later joined the group and I have learnt a lot.

Apart from crops, I have also ventured into tree seedlings production. From my experience, I have realized that people are struggling to get timber for constructing houses. As a result, I have focused on raising eucalyptus seedlings. I have also planted half an acre of them in my farm which I intend to sell in the future to educate my children.

My husband has been supporting me in this project. He helps with collecting seeds and when he is not in school, he helps with managing the nursery. I am also rearing some poultry after acquiring poultry keeping skills from the poultry trainings. This project is beneficial and it easily fetches me good money through the sell of eggs. On average, I collect approximately 30 eggs weekly which I sell to generate income. I also sell part of my flock when I need money and has no other source.

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