In Kenya and Malawi, GRAVIS has partnered with Techno Serve and other Africa based partners to empower the lives of rural women through sharing agricultural technologies. In a USAID funded programme, GRAVIS is playing the role of India Knowledge Partner (IKP), and Techno Serve India is the lead organization.
Rahul Mishra, a program coordinator at GRAVIS, spent a total of about one month in early 2017 working as a technical expert on mentioned project. GRAVIS is overseeing the construction of village ponds or naadis in Kenya and seepage wells in Malawi, he reported.
In Kenya, Techno Serve and GRAVIS work primarily in Kajiado County with the partner agency Massai Kajiado Women Dairy Co-operative Society of which 5,000 women is members according to Mishra. The cooperative works to empower women of the Massai tribe, the most prominent tribe in the village, to collectively garner the most money from their milk. The end goal is to create a more equitable society by making it possible for women to make a financial contribution.
However, drought-like conditions and no water source in the village limited cows’ milk production. That forced the men to become nomads and travel away from their homes in search of something for their animals to drink, according to Mishra.
“The livestock population is gradually decreasing. So, some animals are dying because there is no water,” he said.
To safeguard the villagers’ main source of income, GRAVIS proposed the construction of seven village ponds or naadis to capture and store rainwater. Once full, the naadis can provide enough water to meet the needs of five to six villages, Mishra said.
The ponds are nothing short of a lifeline for people in Kajiado.
“(If) there is no naadi, the people and the cattle can’t survive,” Mishra said.
During his stay, villagers were thrilled to watch an unseasonal rain shower soak a naadi to the brim.
“They are seeing the impact,” Mishra said. “Telling them that it will happen is different, but they are actually visualizing ‘oh, we caught water here.’”
The rest of the naadis are expected to fill during the rainy season in March. The ponds may hold the ticket to greater independence for the Massai women.
“’They are thinking ‘now we are getting our own money,’” Mishra said.
Down in Malawi, both agriculture and livestock fuel the economies of the Mkwaira and Kapesi villages where farmers cultivate cabbage, tomatoes and maize, Mishra reported.
Though lack of rain is not an issue in these areas, irrigation is still a problem due to hilly terrain that propels water downward into the lake, Mishra said.
T help procure groundwater, Techno Serve and GRAVIS in partnership with CRS Malawi helped dig ten seepage wells in Malawi which villagers use to irrigate their farms.
“They are very happy,” Mishra said. “They are growing more crops than before.”
* by Laura Michels, Volunteer