With the current drought in northern Kenya, including the Turkana Basin, Nakechichok Women can only be grateful for the rains up in Mount Elgon and Cherangany which feeds the Turkwel River. With the support of Friends of Turkana and the Turkana Basin Institute, these women have, in the last months, put in effort and after challenges and shortcomings, sometimes good and sometimes meagre sale, while some of their fellow women walked away from the group due to high expectations, many have at this time of drought appreciated the efforts and produce they have been able to get from the shamba.
Two days ago was their first official every two month meeting, where they declared the sales of the last two months. During this meeting, the progress of the shamba was discussed and analysis of the input of the new money maker and how now less efforts was put in fetching water using buckets and how the work load would be re-distrubuted to ensure better produce thus increased sales, possible markets within Lodwar town. Quite interesting to listen in as i was there as an observer.
With the monies counted, they split it into half, the treasurer took one half to be banked and the balance was to be split among the women, each taking some home and using some for the merry go round they have started among themselves.
As i could see the smiles and jubilation among these women I could not help but reflect on the journey they have taken, more and more seeing the realization in their eyes that while Friends of Turkana and Turkana Basin Institute had set them up but their efforts determine how much they take home in the next two months
For now these women who incidentally are not among the food relief beneficiaries, can have some kunde, spinach, pumpkin and egg plant to take home.
Atabo, a woman I have grown to love and respect happily hands me a butter nut pumpkin, ” Nyilosi nawi iwethiwethi ang’akan path kong’ina” (You cannot go home empty handed). While I walked away with my pumpkin, possibly to make a pie, all i could think about is the need for long term solutions for the food insecurity in Northen Kenya, the Nakechichok women are part of this process with the knowledge that “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try”.