Kinengo Initiative is education, health, water sanitation and empowerment focused organization operating in the three Districts of Kibwezi, Nairobi and Narok. It was registered on 6th July 2011, although it has been operating since 2005 under the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Act as part of the larger efforts to provide alternative and tenable interventions for the plight of children, women and men in difficult circumstances. This is a requirement by the government of Kenya. The organization will have a board of five members. There will be elections every three years to elect office bearers.
The executive committee members are:
Board chairman: James Makau Nzioka
Vice-chair: Zipporah Mbuvi Makumi
Secretary: Felista Kyuli
Treasurer: Lorna Mueni
Co-ordinater: Crispus Muema
Although the effectiveness of Kinengo Initiative work will be challenging, it hopes to give the people that it will be dealing with hope and willingness to endeavour in anything and everything they plan on doing. It will try and empower the people it deals with by sharing information and any resources which we think lacks in these areas. The initial area of operation will be Kibwezi, Narok and Nairobi Districts. Depending on the needs and resources, it plans to extend it operations in areas that face the same challenges as our initial area of operations.
Kinengo Initiative believe is that a society well informed can archieve allot of success with any resources available no matter how small. We believe in community mobilization and empowerment of the family units. Our initial area of operation, Mbitini Village in Kibwezi receives a small amount of rain and that hinders the successes of growing crops during the rainy season. Kinengo Initiative plans to try and work out modalities on how people can reduce their dependency on rain for growing their crops. Most of the rain water is lost as there are no dams that have been constructed to trap this precious commodity. If constructed, the amount of water trapped could be enough to grow at least two crop growing seasons. The area has proved that it can produce high quality fruits and vegetable. Land already under irrigation, either through trapped rain water or piped water has proved that the local population can be self sustaining if provided with water.
We have divided our projects in two folds:
WATER PROVISION & EDUCATION
1) Water provision
2) Education, sanitation, health and community empowerment.
On education, Kinengo Initiative continues to appreciate that poverty and cultural beliefs are major factors in the dropping off school for most. Uneducated girl-child gets it to be tough to compete for the already competitive job market. However, there are other informant variables to this question thus conflicts around cultural inhibitions, social stereotypes and economic paradigms that ingrain the practice of gender imparity are issues that Kinengo Initative through many child focused networks has been addressing.
RATIONALE/ JUSTIFICATION OF THE PROJECT
A key component of the welfare of children is the right to access quality and relevant education. These are services and programmes that can allow the development of a child’s personality, talent, mental stability and physical ability as stated in Article 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of children (UNCRC). To this end Kenya did ratify and adopted the details of the convention and went ahead to enact the Children’s Act Cap 586 of the laws of Kenya. This act espouses the individual rights of children, the role and responsibilities of the adult or authority that governs or keeps custodial mechanisms within and out of the Act but follows through the enshrinement of the same as granted in the wider country laws.
There is no doubt that Kenya faces myriad challenges in wanting to provide education opportunities to its young citizenry. In this regard free primary education (FPE) and free secondary education (FSE) polices have been put in place in 2003 and 2008 respectively. What these policies do not address are the challenges that come with increased number of students and non expansion of existing infrastructure. Quality of education has been greatly compromised as the student teacher ratio continues to overwhelm the strength of most teaching fraternity, sanitation facilities are overstretched and learning equipments thinly utilized far less effectively.
Recent survey and the international review held in New York confirm (MDGs 2008) that Kenya lags behind and may not achieve the minimum expectations of the Millennium Development Goals. It is in this context that Kinengo Kenya, a not for government – non profit making organization wishes to directly compliment the efforts of the government. Kinengo Kenya understands negative effects of extreme poverty, humiliating consequences of hardcore hunger and social ignominy that comes with lack of monetary employment. Most Kenyan communities are a replica of this description. Poverty levels stand at 63% nationwide and Makueni District of Lower Eastern province prescribes to this scenario. It is in this spirit that Kinengo Initiative calls for attention on the plight of bright Kenyan students of Makueni district whose vulnerability is magnified by extreme socio-economic challenges.
Kinengo Initiative seeks to institute a scholarship programme which will endeavour to identify needy students unable to transit to the secondary level. Kinengo Initiative aims at providing an environment that will improve the quality of learning for these students. In this respect Kinengo Initiative whose overriding goal is to advocate for policies and programmes that improves the quality of life for young persons shall ensure that education rights are not only observed but practiced thus increasing the chances for positive secondary school engagement.
Small, congested classrooms, large unmanageable class sizes, few teachers, lack of enough schools, poor quality education, inadequate funding and the psychological pressure originating from the unavailable space of free education continues to frustrate poor communities. The inability of parents to sustain their children in schools, due to other socio-economic factors, has left behind a demoralized society. As the progress made from FPE and FSE bleeds from these challenges children continue suffering especially the girl child whose position is complicated further by certain detrimental cultural believes.
We intend to identify two well managed boarding schools (one for boys and the other for girls) with a history of result oriented management systems that will be able to accommodate the growing number of bright students who cannot access secondary education by end of 2009.
The overarching goal of the project is to provide quality learning opportunities for bright students of Makueni District and improve their chances for gainful engagement socio-economically. The project foresees 200 students fully assisted by school fees to finish their high school education by end of four years.
VILLAGE SCHOOL LIBRARY
We have initiated a library services at one of the local primary school with intentions of enlarging it to serve the local community. Our belief is an informed society is an empowered society and through education we believe we can inform it! Although through a partnership with the locals, we have managed to make enough bricks to build a library block, funds are still needed to purchase building materials. We need to get roofing materials, cement, timber, doors, windows, electrify and furnish the building/ library. Some of the other amenities like internet would be something to consider in the future. If we could get the internet connection sorted out as we construct the building the better we would feel. The current “school library” that is in use is small and does not have any space for expansion thus the need for a new building that will be bigger and will take care of any future needs for expansion. The necessity to enlarging the library will not only benefit the local school going kids and their teachers but also the whole community. With donation of books meant for the older members of the society that also necessitated the need to look for ways to accommodate the whole neighbourhood. Courtesy of family friends of mine, Paul and Jan Indman, they have been so kind to allow us to share the pictures they took during their trip to the village. Paul and Jan Indman have also donated US$ 500 towards the women project.
WATER, SANITATION, HEALTH AND COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT
The amount of rain that this area received is not enough for agricultural activities. Although during the rainy season most of the rivers burst their banks and the lands next to rivers are flooded, the aftermath is bare lands with all the crops destroyed. Whatever remains are sand banks that are exploited by “foreigners” who harvest it and sell it to the major towns for construction. Most of Kenya’s quality sand comes from this region and if properly handled, it could help the locals and the council with revenue that could be used to improve their lives. But because it is abused by the “foreigners”, most of the rivers tend to dry and make it tough for the locals during the drought. Most of these locals walk long distances to access clean water. Most of them end up fetching dirty water as that is their only option and through the consumption of dirty water, most of them end up contracting water borne diseases i.e. typhoid, cholera, e.t.c.
That said, Kinengo Initiative plans to empower the locals so that they can build sand/ ordinary dams. Some of the distractions and problems that dirty water causes are that most of the children are made fetch water before going to school and thus affecting their learning, the women get to lose so much time that could otherwise be used somewhere else, a rise in water borne diseases and lose of resources both time-wise and money it terms of hospital bills etc etc.
With the capacity building work being undertaken by the organization in the villages of Mbitini, we will be focusing on providing practical and homemade solutions to these problems with a view to giving the locals a reason to maximizing their potential by providing the basics needed. These are provision for water, proper sanitation and health facilities.
Poverty remains an enormous challenge for Kenya and current trends indicate significant growth rather than reduction in the number of people consigned to the margins of economic obscurity. The government has defined the poverty line as $17 per month in rural areas and $36 per month in urban areas. In 1994, 47 percent of Kenyans fell below this line; today that figure has grown to 56%. Presently, 22.8% of the population lives on less than $1 a day and 58.3 percent live on less than $2 per day. We believe if empowered, the locals would be able to have a year round crop growing season through irrigation, reduce the time the children have to sacrifice before going to school and also reduce the amount of money spent on medical bills due to water borne diseases. The locals would also have enough time to do other chores as time initially used to look for water would have been saved.
To accelerate the empowerment for the locals, Kinengo Initiative plans to initiate a “milk goat”, and chicken project for the already set up groups and any groups that organizes themselves and meet the requirements. There are some groups that have also leased out land where they grow fruits and vegetables for sale. This project helps them get extra money that they use to uplift their lifestyle and also take care of their monetary needs. This is though hampered by the fact that most of these farms use rain water and as such when the rivers dry, most of these farms are left idle. Through donations from some of my friends, I managed to get some money that was used to buy some farming tools. The funds were collected by friends from London, Ohio who had came on one of my trips. I would like to thanks Barbara and James Bailey, Ten and Anne Slanker, Anita and Dennis Waler. Once back in the USA, Anne Slanker managed to convince her women group to donate some money and books that were donated to one of the women group and the books given to Kyumbe Academy. Due to uncertainity in the weather pattern, it has been tough for the women groups that I work with grow crops all year round. Towards that ends, one of the short term remedies, Kinengo Initiative hopes to buy water pumps that would be shared for a small by the groups on a rotational basis to irrigate their farms. The money collected from these groups as payment for water delivery, would be used to buy fuel/ gas and service the pumps whenever and if needed. On a lasting solution, plans are at an advanced stage to get a borehole sank to take care of the water shortfall. This project is being in done in conjunction with Rotary Club of Emerald City, Seattle Washington State and the Rotary Club of Hurlingham, Kenya. To set the project going, the initial money was donated by Tula Turner and her friends from Kansas City.
To maximize on rain water harvesting, Kinengo Initiative will also be working with developers of energy saving equipment. The two currently sort are Aquasun Technology and Makiga for their tanks making, kitchen improvement packages. Their packages offers complete facilities for efficient rainwater harvesting techniques that would be used to reduce the lose of water trapped, amount of time spent looking for water and also offer clean water that would help reduce water borne diseases. Their kitchen package helps in fuel used as they are energy saving and the fuel used to cook is also used to heat water and also acts as incinerator. The packages come with water tanks of varied sizes and literage, from 500-10, 000 litres. Besides the over the ground water tanks, there are also techniques for underground tanks. Makiga Engineering have also come up with a brick making machine that reduces the amount of time and resources used to build bricks for tanks and walls for the classroom. The machines can make bricks that make circular tanks and also straight bricks for building the classrooms. Although there is some information below, the company will have to custom design that would suit the needs of the project area. With the resources/ finances saved, the locals would enhance their lifestyle by directing their time and energy in growing crops. The clinics will be able to save resources and focus on other diseases other than diseases that are caused by poor water and sanitation.
Due to the scarcity in the funds and resources, some of these projects might take some time to implement. At the moment, most of the funds are through past clients who have visited Kenya through Wilderness Zones Safaris. For every client who books a trip through Wilderness Zones Safaris, the company donates US$ 150 for projects that are run by Kinengo Initiative. It is through these trips that we managed to get funds to run these projects. The initial funds for the well and the initial books for the library were donated by Tula Thompson, Kelsey Turner and their friends from Kansas City, Kansas. During my August 2008 trip, I got talking to Jim Beley who was one of the participants on the trip about the challenges that villages in Africa encountered. We both noted that the main concerns were the provision for clean and accessible water, health, sanitation and education. I shared with him my vision for the village and that is when he told me he was the past President of Emerald City Rotary Club, Seattle, USA. He agreed to help with the project and that is where the Mbitini, Water, Sanitation, Health and Literacy Project was muted. With the funds that I had secured from Tula Thompson and her friends from Kansas, Jim agreed to ask his local Rotary club to assist in the implementation of the project. We have partnered with the Rotary Club of Hurlingham as per the conditions of Rotary Club assistants worldwide that all projects run by Rotaries have to be implemented by a local chapter. In the meantime, I have managed to interest some of my friends, both in Kenya and overseas and Rotary Clubs in the USA and Kenya to assist in this project.
Kinengo Initiative intends to work very closely with community members, leaders, District Education/ Development office, Schools heads and other stakeholders in the education, agricultural and health sector in the district. The aim is to avoid any conflicts that may arise. The project is bound to set up standards as pre-requisites to qualify for scholarship or sponsorship of the students if any and also any future project assistance which will be followed to the letter.
Kinengo Initiative has partnered with other development minded organizations and individuals to achieve these goals. On their parts, the locals have agreed to volunteer their time and manual labour to help with these projects. Some of the help would come in the form of building water tanks, trenching for the pipes laying and building bricks for the library.
As look forward to fulfilling this project, I would like to thank the following for their support, advice and encouragement.
1) Tula, Michael Thompson and Kelsey Turner of Kansas City, Kansas.
2) Jim Beley, Kay Knapton, Bill & Clara Poole and Jordan Carlson from Seattle, Wa
3) Ted & Anne Slanker, James & Barbara Bailey, Dennis & Anita Waler from London Ohio.
4) Jim Dykeman and Dan Madigan from Mercer Island, Washington.
5) Paul and Jan Indman
6) Jillian Robinson from Arizona.
7) Bettina Ng’weno from California and Kenya.
8) Paul & Linda Holland from California.
9) Erin Colins from California
10) Rotary Club of Emerald City
11) Kinengo Initiative
12) Jack and Jean Munsee from Redding, Ca
I would also like to thank the Rotary Club of Emerald for agreeing to be the major partner in this worthy project. To my village mates, I look forward to working with you all to help alleviate the perennial water project, quality education, medical and sanitation facilities and give us hope to succeed in being self reliant.
1) Borehole drilling et all US$ 28, 570 (estimates given by Groundwater Kenya)
2) Brick making machine US$ 3, 000 (Makiga Engineering Services LTD)
3) Water Filtering machine US$ 170 (Makiga Engineering Services LTD)
4) Hot water incinerator US$ 1, 800 (Makiga Engineering Services LTD)
5) 2 Energy Saving stoves US$ 2, 800 (Makiga Engineering Services LTD)
6) Water tank building
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Updates: RUSS PRIOR VISITS MBITINI VILLAGE
Between 21 and 23 October, Russ Prior visited Mbitini village to assess the water well situation. The meeting was so fruitful and during his visit, he met the local water committee and had great discussions about the whole project.
As part of the environmental recovery, Kinengo Initaitive has started the “Greening Mbitini Project” Through resources from Wilderness Zones and friends, we started a nursery that we hope will be a model for the area. Since most of the fuel in the village is firewood, most of the trees have been cut and as such most of the rivers have dried up. Stories from the older members of the society share with us the great times when they never suffered water scarcity but due to the wanton destruction of the forest, most of the water towers have dried up. All members who join any of Wilderness Zones programs participates in tree planting events in the village. Through this, we hope we will bring up a society that appreciates nature and values the importance of preserving our forests.
Our feeding program is set for next year after the government’s support was discontinued. Some of the kids come to school hoping to at least get a meal and when they don’t get the meals, most of them drop. Studies have shown that most kids drop off school because of hunger more than school uniform. To make this a thing of the past, we hope to initiate self sustaining project within the schools and among the organized groups within the project area that Kinengo Initiative covers.
UPDATES ON THE WELL
The well has been sunk and Rotarians from Emerald City visited the village and met the local community. The Rotarians who came are Jim Beley, Kay Knapton, Bill Poole and Clara Poole. The Board chairman of Kinengo Initiative led the Rotarians who had a great time at the village. Pictures from the visit are here below:
We have been registered officially as an NGO on the 6th July 2011 and we were issued with the certificate number OP.218/051/11-0366/7444 on the 21 October 2011. This will enable us carry out projects under the “Terms and Conditions of the NGO Council in Kenya” in the three Districts of Nairobi, Narok and Kibwezi. Below is the certificate as presented to the officials of Kinengo Initiative.
Copy of the certificate from the NGO Council: Kinengo Initiative Certificate from NGO Council.
Updates: 08 January 2012
Happy New Year from Kineno Initiative and trust that all is well with you all. For our sponsors and supporters, we appreciate very much.
I visited the village and met some members of the communities that I am working with and they were upbeat on this year. Currently the next stage of the project is getting the cluster groups so that we can start with the brick tanks. The meeting was at Tea Room next to Katheka Primary School that we plan on erecting a brick water tank and a hall and classrooms. This is a building that would be able to be used as a social hall or divided to be used as classrooms.
Members elected for the different zones were:
Mbowe Zone: Peter King’ola, Paul Mutisya and Josephine Mutuku
Katheka Zone: Daniel Mutisya, Simon Matheka and Regina Kivingo
Masaani Zone: Jonthan Muinde, Mutuku Musa and Phylis Katua
Coordinating committee: Zipporah Makumi, Gladys Nduva and John Nzeki
During the meeting, couple of things were discussed that would enable the locals uplift their lifestyle. Below find some of the issues that were discussed.
From the two bricks making machines that are being bought y Rotary Club of Emerald City – Seattle-USA, we will have the locals trained so that they can train other villagers in brick making. Each of the two machines would be used for different purposes. The curved ones for water tanks while the straight one will be for bricks that would be used to build the classrooms, library and the houses for the locals.
The two machines are being bought from Makiga Engineering factory www.makiga-engineering.com. Once the chosen initial villagers have been trained, they will then extend their training to the other villagers to build bricks. To maximize the usage of the brick maker, the initial project would be to build a 13, 000 liter water tank that would be used a model for other water tanks at different locations in the villages. The locals have agreed to volunteer to offer their time to make the bricks.
The brick makers would also be available for individual families to make their own water tanks. This is to enable more homestead access the machines so that they can get their own water tanks. This would enable these homestead harness rain water harvesting.
To fund these water tanks, Kinengo Initiative will add a supplement fees on all trips that are run by Wilderness Zones Safaris, our man donors to the village to support brick water tanks making.
The straight brick makers would also be used to make bricks that would be used to make gabions to arrest soil erosion during the rainy season. The area has experienced damages to the road every rainy season and this would come a long way in reducing the cost of buying stones for making the gabions.
Brick Makers donated and the locals trained how to use them. These were donated and delivered in June 2012. To witness the deliveries, was a hydrogeologist friend from Seattle, Washington-USA, Glen. He had been sent to check the well updates and the design of the well.
This is our next stage of the empowerment program. Below are some of the pictures of the exiting clinic.
Update on 21 May 2012
The machines were bought and paid for on the 18th May 2012 and there are plans to bring them to the village and train some of the villagers on how to use the machines. Once these are taken to the village and the locals trained, there will be demonstration on how the machines are used and embark on making bricks for the classrooms and the library that is planned for Kyumbe Primary School. Other areas that we will cover will be tanks making. These tanks will be used for rain water harvesting.
Update on 12 August 2012
Tula (Mbitini Project major supporter) and friends just visited the country and we had a great time. During their trip they visited some of the marvels of Kenya and Uganda. They went for gorilla trek in Uganda and wildlife, cultural, philanthropic and scenery tour to Kenya. See itinerary Final Kenya – Uganda 2012 trip
Some of the photos from the trip and the village.
Music at the village.
COMMUNITY LIBRARY UPDATES ON 25TH OCTOBER 2012
This past August I hosted friends from the USA and Canada. They were Tula and Michel Thompson, Bart and Jean Dunn and John and Peggy on a two weeks trip to Kenya and Uganda. Tula Thompson, Kelsey Turner’s mum was the first sponsor of my project in the village. During their trip, we started discussing about a library which was part of the whole Mbitini Water, Health, Sanitation and Literacy Project. After their return to the USA, Tula was so fast in getting this started and as we speak, Books For Africa has agreed to partner with Kinengo Initiative to build the community library in Mbitini Village.
My husband and I recently returned from Kenya where we have been supporting a village water project for the last 3 years (with generous matching funds from Rotary International). During our visit, we were pleased to see that the project is nearing completion (the well is operating and much of the distribution system is installed). Creating a source of clean, accessible water addresses a major health and sanitation issue, reduces an enormous burden on the women of the village, who often must walk hours daily to gather water, and provides a potential irrigation opportunity for needed food sources. The gratitude of the village for this modest project was quite moving.
In our conversations with village elders, we realized that another of the community’s greatest needs relates to literacy and education. We met with the principals of the primary school, which serves 260 children, and of the Barazani Girls’ High School, which boards and teaches 470 students. At both schools pupils must share a limited selection of textbooks at a ratio of 10 students or more per book.
Right now neither school, nor the community itself, has a library. Both principals, dedicated to the needs of their students, believe that increasing access to a wide array of new and gently used textbooks would have a profound impact on students’ abilities to learn. Faster learners could advance independently and slower achievers could improve their reading skills with books on topics they might enjoy. A shared library would be an important resource for the entire community.
To monitor and offer advice on the water project, a village council was created, made up of both men and women from the community, which ultimately will assume control over the project. Obviously, sustainability of this and other projects after completion is a key objective. The council has kept the community informed and participating throughout a slow process (for example: the majority of the piping was laid in trenches dug by the villagers). The same council will participate in choosing a suitable location for, and in constructing a facility (or facilities) to house, a library. Recently the village has received two donated brick making machines that could be used for this and other new construction.
Mbitini is in a remote mountainous area of Kenya, seemingly outside the reach of most other charitable organizations. The village of approximately 5,000 is a four hour drive south of Nairobi and is about a one hour drive from the closest highway and small town, Sultan Hamud. Access is limited in the rainy season. Subsistence agriculture is the primary activity.
The most important asset, as we look to help the village try to meet some of its more pressing needs, is the presence of our trusted friend, James Makau, the founder of the Kinengo Initiative. Makau, who operates a successful tour company in Kenya, was born and raised in the village. He returns to see his mother and family regularly and is dedicated to improving the lives of villagers through a whole range of projects. We have known Makau for over seven years and his determination and vision were what caused us to participate in the water project. With eyes and ears on the ground, Makau will relay photos and progress reports on the work being done to make a library a reality. All that is needed is additional funding to provide the books for this worthy village and its students. For more details, see https://www.booksforafrica.org/donate/to-project.html?projectId=117
Updates on the 26 February 2013.
Kinengo Initiative chairman, James Makau visited Izzy Life formerly The Paradigm project and bought 50 Rocket stoves for Mbitini village project. This was made possible through a donation from Foss Miller of Pacific Research of Seattle, Washington State.
James Makau Nzioka