“Before ADSE came the land was like this. It was like a desert. It was so dry”
Evaluations of aid and development projects are usually done by the organisations who implement the project, rather than the communities involved. Community members might be interviewed, or involved in focus groups, but rarely do they get to tell their own story of change on their own terms.
The resilience programme aims to ensure that communities can identify and address the problems that are stopping them overcoming poverty. As a result, the community is addressing issues of disaster linked to water shortages, climate change, food shortages; lack of employment and income generating opportunities; community conflict; environmental degradation and a range of social issues including gender equality, low levels of education and high levels of poor health.
This is the Kalawani community’s take on the project, as told by three community photo monitors; Mary, Jackson and Justus. The project is run by Christian Aid Partner ADS Eastern in Lower Eastern Kenya.
Two parts of the project that are considered to have been the most important by the community are the building of sand dams; which hold water in the river bed for much longer, and village savings and loans groups (VSLs).
VSLs bring people — mostly women — together regularly to pay a small amount into a kitty. After contributing savings, members can take out a loan to invest in new income generating projects such as livestock, fish farming, solar energy, or to pay for school fees while they wait for their harvest. They pay back the loan with a small amount of interest so that over time, the kitty grows.
“Rodah said that last term she was able to send her children to school and pay for it herself”
Village savings and loans groups
“Three years ago, it was impossible for women to do such kind of farming”
After two weeks of taking photos, the photo monitors held an exhibition in the community and people came to talk about whether they agreed with the changes shown in the photos. At the exhibition, the majority of men claimed sand dams were the most significant cause of change, while women attributed the most significant changes they have experienced to the VSL groups.
This helps Christian Aid and ADSE understand what kind of activities have the most impact and are most valuable for communities in this part of Kenya.
All photos taken by the community photo monitors in Kalawani — Mary Mutungi, Jackson Kawewa and Justus Nzioki.