Desk officer Laura Plosinjak visited Kolping Kenya in September. She had a chance to visit various local projects and to talk to Kolping Families. “Water means life“, she was told again and again. After all, the effects of climate change are omnipresent in Kenya as well, making life difficult for its people. Water tanks and planting bags are one solution Kolping offers them. Here is Laura’s report on her journey.
“Kenya is a huge country where Kolping Families are spread over five regions whose climatic conditions differ substantially. Climate change is having a drastic impact: Regions that used to have fertile soil now almost resemble a desert. Visiting them is very challenging. On our visit, we inhale so much dust in the blistering heat that it’s hard to breathe. Even in the car, there are clouds of dust. Kolping Families in the coastal region and in the east of the country report that they are having a hard time adapting to climate change and that the increasing drought is causing them more and more problems. The biggest problem is that many of their animals can no longer cope with the climatic conditions. People report that they need small livestock, originally from the desert, to give them a chance of survival.
Planting bags and water tanks
That is why Kolping Kenya works with space and water saving plant bags and water tanks.
In Kenya’s Central Region there is enough rain. Here, the Consolata and Mukangu Kolping Families tell us that the fields they can use for farming are very small. That is why they learn in their Kolping groups how to utilize every square meter. We visit the Mgange Dawida Kolping Family in the mountains. Its members report that theoretically enough water runs down the mountain, but it is quite difficult to catch it. Some Kolping members tell us that they have connected to the local water system, however water is only fed into the pipes once a week for a few hours
Kolping distributes planting bags in which vegetables can grow upwards in several tiers and which require little water. Members in all regions benefit from this: Families can finally cultivate vegetables successfully and have a bountiful harvest. They improve their nutrition and their children grow up on a healthier diet.
Moreover, Kolping distributes cisterns. Because when it rains, the dry ground cannot absorb the water masses. Here the cistern is a blessing, because the precious wet can be fed into the tanks.
In Kenya, savings groups constitute the core project of Kolping Families. They often meet twice a month to discuss how they can save money together. The funds collected at the first meeting are placed in a common pot that is collectively managed by the Kolping members. This allows them to grant each other small loans for an income-generating project. Yenni reports that she started a beekeeping business with the loan. She has already paid back the money. With her second loan, she built a fish pond and meanwhile she is so successful that she is already dreaming of a second fish pond.
Another form of credit is the “Merry go round” principle. This means that the Kolping Family agrees on an important household item to improve their standard of living. Little by little, this item is then purchased for all members. The Mukangu Kolping Family, for example, decided to buy some chairs that can be used when Kolping members take turns in hosting meetings. Now there are always enough chairs for everyone to sit. Then a set of tea cups was bought for everyone so that they would have enough cups to enjoy their African tea together.
House construction project
Today is a special day for the Siranga Kolping Family. It is working at a big community project – the construction of a house with small apartments. They take the money from their own savings. In addition, they invest their own labor and materials in the project. Everybody contributes and gets certain shares of the house depending on the contribution made. For example, working hours and raw materials are converted into a monetary value. One Kolping sister reports that although she cannot work on the construction site and has no money, she has provided three large trees from her garden, and the wood is enough for the entire roof structure. Thus, she has made the biggest contribution to the construction of the house.
Our visit is a very special day, because the first phase of construction is completed and the first certificates can be distributed, which all Kolping members can proudly take home.“