The program puts into consideration the needs and demands of the disadvantaged groups and the minority especially in the semi arid areas of Tharaka districts, parts of Tigania East, Igembe North and Meru South districts. To create resilience during drought in the semi arid regions of the diocese, Caritas has partnered with several organizations and the government of Kenya to achieve this objective through assorted projects.
Resilience enhancing capacities program is a short term project designed to build communities’ resilience to climate change particularly small scale farmers. Building resilience is becoming a key objective of food security programming in crisis situations. Resilience programming needs to focus on strengthening capacities of systems, at all levels, and this needs to be supported by proper analysis in order to identify priority actions hence the RECS project.
RECS projects immediate goal is to strengthen the advocacy capacities of Caritas offices with the common goal; to contribute through advocacy to the realization of the right to food for the most vulnerable and to the implementation of the sustainable development goal No. 2 on the elimination of hunger, food security and sustainable agriculture. Therefore, by addressing the immediate causes of vulnerability, food insecurity and malnutrition, we pave the way for economic, environmental and social recovery.
Caritas Meru has been in the front line in responding to the current drought facing communities in Meru. In collaboration with Bio vision, Caritas Meru rolled out a Programme on September 2019 to promote agro ecology across the county. The overall goal of this Programme is to allow a dialogue across actors promoting Agro ecology, this would ultimately lead to increased Programming, policy development and implementation of agro ecology in Meru County. The Programme has created a platform for local organizations to engage with county government both legislative and executive arms in a bid to develop a legal framework to encourage small scale farmers to adopt agro ecology system in the county.
Agro ecology is among the most promising systems that enables increased farm production substantially and sustainably in reality of diminishing natural resources. However there exist a notable gap in adoption of this system national wide.
There is rampant environmental degradation. The use of poor agricultural practices has led to poverty among many farmers in Meru County. Agriculture remains an important means of alleviating poverty; it is evolving towards a global system requiring high- quality, competitive products. There are many instances when farmers lack food due to rainfall insufficiency and unreliability. IEEFSESP project was rolled out to address key issues related to building resilience, and strengthening the adaptive capacity of vulnerable groups in Meru. The vulnerable groups include youth and women, which are struggling to adapt to rising temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns and other impacts of global change within Meru County.
Smart Water for Agriculture (2016-2019) is a collaborative initiative between Caritas Meru, Meru county government and SNV which aims to save water and energy, and to ensure sustainable resource use by promoting farmer-led and market-based smart water products and services. These will also help to reduce labours and inputs, mitigate weather related risks, and promote off-season production opportunities. By bringing stakeholders together in 'Irrigation Acceleration Platforms' the programme aims to facilitate smart water innovation across selected counties in Kenya. The objective of this programme is to contribute to increased water productivity in agriculture, and increased income and food security through the development of a dynamic and sustainable ‘Smart Water Solutions’ (SWS) sector in Kenya, that adequately meet the needs of small and medium-sized entrepreneurial (SME) farmers. The target is to increase water productivity by 20% for 20,000 SME farmers (at least 50% women and 80% are vegetable producers), for them to have secured water access for agriculture production, and become more resilient to climate change. Smart Water for Agriculture operates under the guiding principles that solutions must be farmer-led, market-based and accessible to women.
The project benefit Small and medium-sized entrepreneurial (SME) farmers in Meru county. Suppliers and providers of smart water solutions - Kenya and Dutch private companies and entrepreneurs as well as NGOs and county agencies that play a supportive role.
Programme Impact Area:
II. Improving the use of and access to smart water products and services- this has been achieved through multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources with SME farmers, through demonstration to farmers, and supplied by strong private sector delivery systems. Supporting improved access to finance; Meru county IAP cognizant of existing financial need among SME farmers is working with micro finance institution i.e. Capital Sacco, Siraji Sacco, Eclof and Centenary Sacco to fill in the gap through provision of farmer’s friendly credit facility and pay as grow model.
III. Increase access to Smart Water Services knowledge and build demand. The project set up a smart centre at Kaguru to disseminate knowledge on existing local smart solution and those at national level aimed at generating demand and creating a market for private sector suppliers. The centre offers training to SME farmer on various kind of technology i.e. storage, drilling technology and green energy technologies- solar pumps and mzuzu technology.
IV. Creating business linkages and supporting companies (Dutch/Kenyan) to invest in improved SW-services and products for a more dynamic and innovative sector. Farmers in the county are appreciating the use of flying sensor which enables them to detect crop stress at early stage hence increased quality yield, thanks to ThirdEye company for bring this service to SME farmers at affordable prices.
This program, funded by Catholic Relief Services(CRS), targeted over 5,000 households involves Agri-enterprise development activities which involved planting of seedlings that can serve as food and income generating purposes like commercial mangos, paw paws, tamarinds and melon. Others included improved goats and poultry keeping, micro irrigation and small food security projects. In return, In return, the beneficiaries were supported with vouchers to buy food and other farm inputs (voucher for work).
Due to the intensive mango and pawpaw fruit orchard establishment in areas of Ntugi, Turima, Karocho, Marimanti, Kanjoro, Kathangacini among others in Tharaka, farmers were trained on how to graft mangoes and they have since trained other farmers on the same. Pawpaw seedlings nursery were established and over 20,000 seedlings of the same were planted by the beneficiaries.
“Though the project has ended, we are happy that the farmers are still carrying on with the agri-enterprise development, and the success of the targeted beneficiaries has seen more farmers embracing it”, Robert guchunge,head of programs Caritas Meru.
Sisi kwa Sisi water project-This is a community based irrigation project that was started as an initiative of the community with the support of the diocese of Meru funded by Catholic Relief Services, under the ARC project. The project is set to benefit over 4000 residents in Mukothima division. Caritas Meru has been providing technical support in collaboration with ministry of Agriculture.
Caritas Meru is implementing an agri business project funded by Micro Enterprise Support Program Trust(MESPT).The project seeks to support and improve innovative initiatives for small holder youth farmers in horticulture, irrigation and value addition of products in Igembe North district,Meru county. Provision of over 15 greenhouses is one of their initiatives to enable the community adapt the new farming technologies and productivity improvement hence creating employment, alleviating poverty and curbing overreliance on khat(miraa) trade.
Through Caritas Kenya partnership,the program aims at community capacity building, crop production and environmental management like soil and water conservation for increased productivity consequently improving livelihood. Farmers have been trained on Agri-Enterprise engagements like, bee keeping, poultry and dairy goats farming.
It also supports Kamutune Resource Centre, a five acre farm which is utilized to demonstrate to farmers on various modern farming technologies which include integrated biogas and organic farming. The demonstration farm has various projects ranging from livestock rearing to farming.
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Caritas Meru have joined efforts to create aflatoxin awareness in the larger Meru due to numerous cases of aflatoxin poisoning reported in the region over the years.
Over 25 villages targeted in the two counties in the 1year campaign will be trained on proper harvesting and threshing techniques, proper storage and transportation to avoid aflatoxin contamination. The contaminated maize found after testing will be swapped with the uncontaminated maize. In 2011, UNITED NATIONS OCHA partnered with caritas with the same. Over 1million farmers were reached.
The project uses an integrated approach to provide practical, possible feasible and technologically acceptable lasting solutions in addressing poverty and foods insecurity which are main causes of vulnerability in Rwanda location of Akithi division in Tigania west district.
Caritas has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture to reach out to 200 beneficiaries in groups of 20.The main objective of the group is to reduce poverty, hunger and enhance food security among the poor community members in Akithi division through increased food production and value addition of sweet potatoes and cassava, upgrading of local goats and local chicken by providing daily bucks and kenbro cocks to the groups.
Drought resistant crops with diversified uses yet nutritious like sweet potato vines and cassava cuttings, sorghum, green grams among others were distributed to the 500 households