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Supporting Sustainable Rural Agricultural Enterprises and Solar Lighting Technology for Improved Rural Livelihoods in Nyanza Region, Kenya

Kenya’s forests are rapidly declining due to pressure from increased population and other land uses. With a big part of the country being arid and semi-arid, with Nyanza region in focus, there is a lot of strain on the rest of the land since the economy is natural resource based. Market oriented agricultural outputs have developed over time though in many areas small holder farmers have been limited by resources, low technical capacity and bad seeds, as well as market and policy disincentives.

It is evident that most biodiversity species are diminishing at alarming rates, and our planet is facing danger hence the need for protection. Several survey and research findings in Nyanza region have led us to the realization of the needs of the communities within the region. Most village inhabitants do not have access to clean energy and therefore resort to using firewood, rudimentary lanterns and kerosene wick-lamps for cooking and lighting at night. Most communities practice 100% wood cooking (open fire), with wood resources used on a daily basis in kitchens. These communities are more vulnerable to climate change effects, since many of the wood resources used are considered to be threatened species, such as the Blue Gum, which is also one of Kenya’s endemic species, or they are species particularly important in the region. Kerosene remains expensive and out of reach of many households.

Nyanza region, Kenya is famously recognized for its production of Kenya’s staple food crop, maize, rice and sugarcane. The major problems affecting these small holder farmer families are; climate change, land degradation, which is as a result of deforestation, population pressure on land and poor farming methods that enhance soil erosion and bad seeds as well as soil infertility. The small holder farmers also have low access to finance and credit due to limited information on financial services and inadequate sources of funds. Marginalization and lack of support especially to women and youth in leadership and decision making has been an issue because of poor Social structures supporting their involvement in contributing to community development and food security. Women who are smallholder farmers also have limited access and control of productive resources like land, machinery and livestock.

To attain a clean, secure and sustainable environment by 2030; RHD stand to offer new farming strategies based on best practices and technology to address food security in Kenya, secure and manage the environment issues through implementation of environmental initiatives; ensuring that sustainable exploitation, utilization and management of natural resources is strengthened and that the benefits are shared equitably, and promoting adoption of sustainable agricultural land management methodology to address land degradation and soil erosion. This will involve conducting climate risk and opportunity assessment and development of adaptation plans to guide implementation of adaptation measures. These include practices such as agro-forestry techniques, nutrient management, and soil & seeds; water conservation among others. In addition, strengthening association of rural smallholders farmers and their management through training on farming techniques, provision of drought resistance crops/ seeds, providing technology, leadership and governance for effective service delivery to members. Provision of solar lighting kits to the rural needy school going children as well as contributing to development of a modeling and mentorship programme for women and youth for leadership positions as well as put in place leadership transitional plans. Specific training targeting women to improve their decision making at household level that includes; confidence building and household road map. Women and youths sensitized to access funds and resources for purposes of addressing food security and to invest in profitable farming practices or technologies at household level.

In orders to ensure all these are implemented, RHD IS looking for developmental partners, supporters, project funders to help achieve its goal in ensuring food security, improved livelihoods and resilience to climate change for rural communities and small holder farmer families in Nyanza region and nationally.