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Involves over 2,500 destitute women left as heads of family when males went elsewhere for remunerated work following repeated, severe droughts. Because of women's poor physical and mental condition, beekeeping and honey processing; milk-goat, fish and rabbit breeding; sun-dried brick-making; handicrafts and an income-generating and nutrition-teaching canteen were initiated and implemented.
Kibwezi is a small town which until very recently was only an overnight stop for heavy
transport vehicles. Its inhabitants are mostly Eastern Bantu people who migrated into this
area sporadically, over many years. In the 1960s the area was hit by the aftermath of the
Sahelian drought, whatever livestock people had brought, either died or was eaten. The men
left for work elsewhere and the women remained as heads of their families. By 1981 they
were truly desperate and when children started dying they approached the Catholic Mission
of the Sisters of Mercy in Kibwezi which, in turn, contacted the Council for Human
Ecology-Kenya, at that time the only NGO with a holistic attitude to development. The
women were organized in traditional mutual-help societies called "mwethia" and
the Council decided to take advantage of these to reach as many needy families as possible
and make the most impact on the quality of their lives.
We have no figures in response to this question. We have no record of the actual number of government employees that came to Kibwezi following the women's successes nor have we examined the ways in which the private sector, i.e. the merchants, etc. have profitted. However, all the girls of the appropriate age now attend the Boarding Secondary Girls' School initiated by the women in Kibwezi; most of the women have taken adult literacy classes and almost all have individual savings bank accounts.
The Programme has caused LAnd Adjudication to take place throughout the 4 Locations of the District and most former TOL plot holders now have Title Deeds. A special training curriculum for untutored but intelligent businesswomen has been formulated and accepted country-wide. The rules and regulations of co-operative movements and societies of women in rural areas have been modified in their favour. We are not aware of other legislation that this Porgramme may have influenced. The women have learnt to work with each other, with Government and NGOs and have become vocal and active politically. The women asked for adult literacy training and over 5000 adults are benefitting from this advance. Because of the stall-feeding goat programmes a certain amount of denudation and environment degradation may have been saved while many children now have a regular, daily supply of goat milk. Almost all the women now have individual savings bank accounts and many have gone into various businesses.The womn have proved willing and able to embark on trades and techniques not only unfamiliar and innovative to them, but which also encroached on the men's traditional spheres of activity. They have started to replace old mud houses with large and better built shelters, send their daughters to university and indulge in fashionable clothes and hairdos. The programmes on which they embarked,were adopted by consensus; they have succeded in changing institutional arrangements and governance in their participation in a previously males only "world" and have proved that they can very effectively handle decision-making processs. As a result, we feel that this programme can be replicated in other parts of the world and, given a motivated, homogenous group of women, should achieve the same sustainable success.n
Kibwezi Women Integrated Rural Dev. Group
Council for Human Ecology, Kenya
Kibwezi Women's Integrated Rural Development Group
Adamson, Tynka, Hon. Sec, CHEK
Muli Rhoda, Mrs, Chairlady KWRIDG
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