foreign aid in action

Families leave World Vision food distribution with bags of maize and cans of cooking oil. Scenes from a food distribution at Naapong Food For Assets site in Turkana, Kenya. There has been very little rain in Turkana, with drought cycles becoming more and more frequent. World Vision Area Program Manager in Turkana, Joseph Adome says that it rained just 100 milliliters in 2016 in the county. Normal rainfall is 500 milliliters. Immediate action is needed to respond to 276,200 people who face starvation in Turkana.
This food distribution, run by World Vision’s Fred Mzee in the orange shirt, began with prayer. The food had been trucked in and each bag counted by the community relief committee. That committee can only accept food shipments that are complete. Fred explained who would be receiving food as part of the Food For Assets project, how a new registration would be done for the next rainy season, and how people would be chosen from the most vulnerable. The community had decided that the most vulnerable people were those who had lost animals in raids, orphans and widows, and finally, the elderly. Then Fred explained how the 160 people participating would gather in groups of 10 around 16 piles of food. They would divide the maize and USAID-provided vegetable oil into portions to take home. Those who live the farthest away would receive food first so they could get home in safety. Community members in vests were prepared to settle disputes. A community help desk would register any complaints about the food or the process. “This is a result of the work you have done with the garden,” said Fred of the food for assets project in Naapong.
World Vision Kenya is serving communities in Turkana Kenya through livelihood and resilience programs that provide food for assets, such as improved farming techniques for 6,666 households, and using Empowered Worldview to help keep communities focusing forward.
“A long time ago, this land was used for small gardens,” says community leader Christopher Amodoi, 35. “Women planted kitchen gardens with millet and maize. It wasn’t anything like this.” In May 2015, World Vision, under the guidance of Project Manager Fred Mzee, brought new skills to the people of Naapong, teaching them to create zaipits and empowering them to take ownership of their lives and their land.
“World Vision taught us new skills on how to farm,” says Christopher. “We would just throw seed around. We learned to plant things in order. When you just scatter seed, you don’t know what will grow. It’s just chance. Now we are planting the way the Bible says we should plant.”
The community learned to dig zaipits, 60x60x60 centimeter holes that capture what little rainfall comes. “The topsoil is rich,” says Fred. “This is good soil.” The participants are paid in food—maize, beans, and oil.
The community has planted sorghum, maize, green grams, and cowpeas. After the first season in 2015, every family received 3 kilograms of cowpeas (6.6 pounds.) “Everybody got a taste,” he says. The harvest did not go as well in 2016. “In April 2016,” says Christopher, “we had very little rain. We harvested nothing.” Yet, the community perseveres. “The project is good,” he says. “We just need water.” Empowered Worldview is a key to the project’s longevity. Staff in Kenya have taken courses in Empowered Worldview which teaches them to help people break their dependence and recognize their value and self-worth. “Fred is here with us. He’s a human being. His habits are good. I can tell he’s a Christian,” says Christopher. “We first start with prayer. He talks a lot about the Bible. He is diligent and focused.” Fred encourages the people in this projects to walk in groups due to the insecurity in the area. Some come from as far as 7 kilometers away. “Insecurity is an issue,” says Fred. “There’s an influx of people due to the drought.” And indeed, dozens of people who have recently migrated to Lokichoggio have gathered, hoping to be part of the project.
The atmosphere in the field is productive. “I keep on giving them hope,” says Fred. “God is there. He will bring rain. The rains may be delayed, but we must persist.”
Where Christopher lives are ten graves—three recent mounds for a man and wife and a widow who died of hunger. The graves are covered with stones and a thorny weed to keep animals away. “If you come from far away and know your relative is buried there, you bring a stone,” says Christopher. “It is a way of saying, ‘We still remember you.’” The people who died used to be remembered times of celebration as well. “We used to celebrate near the graves,” says Christopher. “Because of the drought, we have not celebrated here. There are very few well wishers like World Vision.”
The community prays for this drought to end. “We are Christians,” says Christopher. “We pray for peace. For hunger. For rain. For those who are sick. For safety.” The community shares food with the newcomers. “There are a lot of orphans,” says Christopher. “They need to be part of the program. The food we receive we will eat with them. Even if it is small, we will share with them.”
Life has changed in this community because of the latest drought. “We had wealth. We had milk. Now much of our livestock has been taken by bandits or it has died. It has totally changed the way we live.” People are no longer getting married because there is no food to celebrate. Now people are crowding into small spaces, he says, ten people to a hut. “There’s a lot of sickness. If someone has TB, it spreads. We get rained on. We don’t have enough cups.”
The children go to school because there is food there, but it is often their only meal. “They sleep all day until school comes again,” he says. “When I was young, I went to boarding school,” he says. “When I came home, I would herd cattle. We had milk. Not it is not the same.” The area faces insecurity with frequent cattle raids, but says Christopher, “our main enemy is hunger.”

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