Transformation in Action

Prescilla Awino, Kenya

Your Big Year
Jun 24 · 5 min read
Prescilla amongst the tomato garden

My Project: Sustainable Urban Green Garden-project.

Currently, I’m working for WISE- Women in Sustainable Enterprises but my projects are separate from my WISE work and I hope to turn into my own organization called GreenWorks Initiatives.

What was your Inspiration?

Over the years, there has been a decline in fish stock and supply in Lake Victoria, Kisumu. Being my home city, I have seen the effect of this decline on the locals’ social, economic and environmental wellbeing. Poor fishing methods, climate change and pollution have greatly contributed to the current status and trend of this important resource’s decline. The most vulnerable individuals impacted have been women who solely depend on fish mongering as a livelihood. Furthermore, increasing fish prices and cultural barriers preventing women from fishing in the lake has subjected them to sexual exploitation by fishermen, resulting in sexually transmitted illnesses such as HIV/AIDS. In fact, HIV/AIDS’ prevalence is always ranked high in Lake Victoria region of Kenya as a result of this — almost 4 times higher than the rest of Kenya.

Observing the crops

Secondly, Conservation Based Agriculture has been neglected and many farmers are relying on synthetic fertilizers, which have negative effects on farmers (costs), soil, and also the aquatic ecosystem (eutrophication). Land available for primary productivity is becoming more and more scarce in Kisumu, and this has greatly affected food security.

I wanted to change the status quo by showing the community that as far as we have small land we can use it sustainably to produce organic green food, and that women can involve themselves in another alternative livelihood to reduce overcrowding at fish mongering. This economic independence would also help reduce their vulnerability to STDs. I decided to save some money for one year, to make my dream of sustainable innovative farming in the community come true. I started by setting up a hydroponic farm for tomatoes and organic kitchen farming (using gunny bags) for vegetables.

The tomatoes are being grown in a hydroponic system using shredded coconut husks connected to drip irrigation water containing organic nutrients. This is very economical as it uses less land to produce more yield, it requires less labour, it’s eco-friendly as it uses water sparingly and help in proper waste management of coconut husks, and tomatoes grow and fruit faster as they get direct nutrients. The tomatoes are healthier and happier as they are free from soil pests and diseases. Through this I’m able to supply tomatoes daily to the local hotels and community households.

Additionally, I also grow kale and spinach, both in rows and vertically in a large gunny bag using organic manure. This helps in building economical, ecological, and nutritional sustainability within my community.

Through this simple integrated technology, my small garden is producing more than expected, and because it is next to the beach where students come from all over Kenya to visit it acts as a demonstration and learning site for visiting students. Moreover, my community can now have access to fresh vegetables and tomatoes that they used to travel 5km for.

What challenges have you faced?

  • Due to the extremely hot weather in Kisumu, the tomatoes undergo huge stress and therefore wither easily. This has also created a conducive environment for certain persistent pests that attack tomato leaves and fruits.
  • The cost implications of the project are sometimes a bit high, especially for a young person like me. I had to collaborate with a friend in order to achieve some of my objectives and reach the targets and projections set.
  • Due to the small space, I m not able to meet the demands of students and visitors touring the vegetable farm. The traffic sometimes is too high and I have to cancel some visits. My wish would be to accommodate 50 people in the farm at a go. Its however encouraging to see many people interested in visiting the farm. This is a good challenge to have and I will look for solutions on how to expand and accommodate more people.

What you have found to be your best resources?

Currently, my greatest resource is the Dunga community in Kisumu. I have been able to have a project that is accepted and able to change lives and to change a whole cultural belief that “it’s only through fish mongering that women can attain their livelihoods.” The women that I have been able to engage have become my greatest strength as they have been able to become my customers and also start vegetable kitchen gardens, not just to supplement but to be their main source of income. Additionally, I have also been able to get great help from local environmental and agricultural stakeholders who provide invaluable information on best agricultural practices.

With some of the produce picked from the garden.

What advice do you have for your peers?

Every person at a different level and location has personal power to change the world and make it a better place. Innovation is guided by young people, adapted to the local circumstances and sustainable for the economy and environment. Problems and challenges provide an opportunity for solutions. Despite where you are and what you have, start now, start where you are, maybe start with fear, start with pain, start with doubt, start with hands shaking, start with voice trembling, but START. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are with what you have.

As young people who are committed to ensure that every person lives comfortably and happily, let’s adopt the following principles:

  • Be proactive- responsibility, choice, accountability, initiative, and resourcefulness
  • Begin with the end in mind- have the vision, commitment, and purpose
  • Put first things first- focus, integrity, discipline, and prioritization
  • Think win-win- mutual benefit, fairness, and abundance
  • Seek to understand before you expect to be understood- respect, mutual understanding, empathy, and courage
  • Synergy- creativity, cooperation, diversity, and humility
  • Sharpen the saw-Renewal, continuous improvement, and balance

What are your other projects?

Green Ventures- enabling the marginalized area along the lake with access to access to clean and affordable energy through a pay as you go model.

Aquaponic- this is the growing of vegetables and farming of fish through a mutual relationship, by which fish create waste for vegetables and vegetables clear water for fish.

Prescilla Awino

Want to know more? Reach out to Priscila and ask!


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