A burgeoning population, years of both crippling drought and flooding, environmental degradation and the fall out of the HIV/AIDS epidemic have left many Kenyans struggling to survive.
Over 79% of Kenya's population are farmers or raise animals for their income; the vast majority of these are so poor, they can't meet their daily nutritional requirements. Without enough food, many families, and especially women and children, succumb to water-borne diseases, malaria and malnutrition. Rural women are particularly vulnerable, as they don't have equal access to social and economic assets.
Ex-Lewa Dairy Co-operative, Meru Dairy Co-operative Union
Where are we working?
VWB/VSF's work is concentrated in the Meru region of central Kenya.
Small Steps to Great Solutions
The difference between abject poverty and a reasonable livelihood can be as simple as a single dairy cow. With income from milk, families can afford school fees for children, improve nutrition and health care for both their families and their livestock and climb out of the spiral of poverty that grips so many rural Kenyans.
VWB/VSF works with two Kenyan dairy organizations, and collaborates with another Canadian organization (Farmers Helping Farmers) to support smallholder farmers and to improve the health and nutrition of farmers and their families. During the course of this five year project, VWB/VSF volunteers will to help train village members, as well as co-operative staff and government extension workers to better care for their cows, which are an integral source of income for many families in the area. The work has a particular focus on helping women to improve their livelihoods. Dairy cows also improve the status of women in villages, as they allow women to earn family income, better nourish themselves and their children and participate in community decision-making councils.
Among the volunteers that will work in Kenya during the course of the project are dairy veterinarians, dairy management specialists, farm management advisors, financial management advisors, and dairy extension trainers. As well, VWB/VSF will recruit a planning, monitoring, and evaluation specialist as well as a horticulturalists who will work with women and women's groups to initiate or improve vegetable production. Many of these volunteers will focus on training building local sustainability by helping farmers, extension workers, community animal health workers and co-op staff to build skills and expertise. Students -- usually vet students -- have also been lending their skills during the summer months through our Young Volunteers Program.