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Kenya

 

About the Implementing organization

Community Mobilization Against Desertification (C-MAD)

Country: Kenya

Year of establishment: 1995

Type of organization: Legally recognized non-profit status

Description

C-MAD collaborates with the government, private sector, schools and the community for co-creating, advocating, and promoting sustainable development linked to improving the living standards of the community.

It has planted over 1,000,000 tree seedlings in order to reduce desertification. It promotes a complete crop value chain among the smallholder farmers. For example we implemented a project on peanut butter where we trained farmers on agronomic practices on peanut for them to produce, process, and package their product. This included our purchasing of of processing and packaging equipment for them to enable their controlling the means of their own production to capture the value of the entire chain of the peanut production they were already investing the bulk of their labor into, but not previously benefiting from the value added commodity. As a result of this intervention, the smallholder farmers’ group is now owning the entire process by itself, leading to further economic sustainability. The whole process is done ecologically by using organic farm inputs that are environment friendly. The project also linked the farmers to the market so that they are selling the products directly to 8 major outlets in Migori and Homabay Counties in Kenya.

C-MAD implements other such projects, including one where 10 lead farmers were recruited and trained on permaculture techniques and now the project has begun implementation with these farmers establishing model permaculture farms for others to learn from. The 10 lead farmers are trained to be Trainers of Trainees (ToTs). They offer peer to peer extension work to the neighboring farmers. These lead farmers identify a minimum of 24 neighboring farmers that they can reach and train comfortably. These farmers are then recruited with the help of the project officer where they are profiled for them to qualify as beneficiaries. The lead farmers offer peer to peer extension work by practically training the recruits at their model farms. These recruits are then expected to replicate these techniques at their individual farms. This empowers the local people to become the educational and agricultural experts and leaders, who can now become the agents of change who scale and reproduce this work with genuine enthusiasm. The project officer assists the lead farmers to establish their model farms and to facilitate implementation of the different sustainable farming techniques they have learned. .

Monitoring and Evaluation of the project is also participatory by ensuring that the project beneficiaries are fully involved in the design of metrics. This has been achieved by involving them in all the stages developing the indicators and data collection tools, and communicating back to them the results. This enables the organization to identify the outcomes and document them including the impact to the community. It also helps ensure that local participants can meaningfully help collect data, since they identified the meaningful data they want to observe and study to begin with!

A sustainability plan is also put in place so that when the project ends, the farmers will be able to continue with their farming activities aimed at food security and selling the surplus for increased incomes. The participatory nature of monitoring and evaluation helps ensure they can continue this work long after the specific project ends.

In all its activities, C-MAD has come up with its own model of operation called PESA Agro-Enterprise Marketing Model in order to address sustainability. Here, the individual producers are organized into producer groups then linked with the financial providers and the buyers. The buyers are also linked with the financial providers and this becomes a complete cycle where each depend on one other to form an environmentally conscious and sustainable business development model.

Nature Element

Forests

Type of Action

Sustainable use of natural resources︱Climate-resilient food and agriculture

Sustainable Development Element

Food security︱Sustainable communities and disaster risk reduction

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

    

Environmental Impacts

By growing trees and making swales we have really helped fight and begin to control soil erosion, leading to soil and water conversation among the farmers.

Agroforestry creates a habitat for beneficial living organisms e.g. birds - some of which help in fertilizing the soil and feeding on some pests - creating biological pest control. By using organic inputs such as compost, the soil regenerates becoming home to beneficial macro & micro organisms.

The application of innovative methods of reducing littering the environment with plastic containers by modifying and re-using them i.e. the plastic water bottles being used as watering cans after making holes at the top. Margarine containers used as seedling pots and also to store beverages i.e. coffee, tea leaves and table salt.

Composting of wastes has really helped in waste management and disposal and ensuring a cleaner environment by keeping the soil safe and water discharged into water bodies by erosion safer for aquatic life.


CLIMATE IMPACTS

The organization trains smallholder farmers to venture into drought resistant crops, enhancing their resilience to shocks caused by climate change and water scarcity. The crops promoted include sorghum, cassava, cow peas, and local maize varieties.

The smallholder farmers are also trained in water conservation techniques for both domestic use and farming. They do this by rain water harvesting using water tanks, soil water conservation techniques such as mulching, cover-cropping, agroforestry, terracing & swales.

Practicing agroforestry, planting nitrogen fixing trees with crops in the same piece of land creates a conducive micro-climate for crops. It also increases the production as some of the trees gives fruit, firewood, fix nitrogen, shade, and some are medicinal like the moringa.

The above techniques also increase the soil carbon content. By mulching, decomposition of bio-degradable materials are broken down resulting into healthy living soils and this enhances productivity.

Sustainable Development Impacts

Agroforestry and inter-cropping guarantees a higher and diversified production. This is in the sense that the total harvests of the the different crop types & species is normally higher than in mono-cropping. Diversified crops also promotes a more nutritious diet for the farmer’s and their families.

Innovation by re-use of wastes such as plastic containers helps the farmers by spending less.

The use of ecological methods such as composting enriches the soil, mulching suppresses the weeds & inter-cropping with different crop types & species and repellent plants to control pests and diseases greatly lowers the cost of production and this helps in putting more incomes to fund other basic needs i.e. education. It also eliminates the temptation of spraying poison.

The training is done with the lead farmers to be Trainers of Trainees and assisting them to practically establish their model farms, helps them to develop skills that they will use and train others even beyond this project.


RESILIENCE, ADAPTABILITY, AND SELF-SUFFICIENCY

By growing drought resistant crop varieties:

- This has helped the community adopt to the effect of harsh environments;

- Most of these crops are traditional foods such as sorghum, millet, cassava etc. and these traditional foods bring people together - strengthening social cohesion. Even when planting trees together this brings communities closer to one another;

- Growing these crops enhances food security and enables them to sell the surplus to their neighbors - also increasing their incomes.

Ecological Farming Techniques:

- Composting, inter-cropping and mulching enriches the soils making it a living soil and this improves the environment. When waste materials are not decomposed properly it becomes a health hazard - which is one of the reasons we are teaching composting;

- Members of the community learning together - especially when sharing local knowledge strengthens their social ties;

- Using locally available materials minimizes costs - channeling more income to other basic needs.The project focuses mainly on the smallholder farmers. This is a vulnerable group that lacks adequate basic necessities in life such as food, clothing and shelter. Therefore, the organization aims at addressing; food security, increased income levels, environmental sustainability, and social cohesion. By focusing on this group and reducing the gap between the rich and the poor we directly address societal inequalities. By getting produce that have both high quantity and quality nutrients this ensures that this community becomes food secure and the surplus are sold. They can meet their daily basic needs with this such as pay for their kids education and provide better shelters.

The innovative approaches that the smallholder farmers are trained on enables them to effectively use the locally available materials and knowledge hence minimizing production costs. Using the low cost inputs i.e. inter-cropping with plants that are crop repellants such as corriander, onions, lemon grass and garlic is much cheaper than them purchasing pesticides.

These farmers produce healthy organic food that enhances their health hence requiring visiting hospitals less. They also use medicinal plants and natural medicines. This also increases disposable income for families to spend on other necessities.

Adhering to all the above techniques allows the smallholder farmers to achieve most of their daily basic needs. These are among the many ways our program addresses inequalities.


REDUCED INEQUALITIES

The project focuses mainly on the smallholder farmers. This is a vulnerable group that lacks adequate basic necessities in life such as food, clothing and shelter. Therefore, the organization aims at addressing; food security, increased income levels, environmental sustainability, and social cohesion. By focusing on this group and reducing the gap between the rich and the poor we directly address societal inequalities. By getting produce that have both high quantity and quality nutrients this ensures that this community becomes food secure and the surplus are sold. They can meet their daily basic needs with this such as pay for their kids education and provide better shelters.

The innovative approaches that the smallholder farmers are trained on enables them to effectively use the locally available materials and knowledge hence minimizing production costs. Using the low cost inputs i.e. inter-cropping with plants that are crop repellants such as corriander, onions, lemon grass and garlic is much cheaper than them purchasing pesticides.

These farmers produce healthy organic food that enhances their health hence requiring visiting hospitals less. They also use medicinal plants and natural medicines. This also increases disposable income for families to spend on other necessities.

Adhering to all the above techniques allows the smallholder farmers to achieve most of their daily basic needs. These are among the many ways our program addresses inequalities.


GENDER EQUALITY

The organization has always championed women participation by:

- Ensuring that 60% of the total beneficiaries are women. This starts when recruiting the project beneficiaries. During project implementation, it teaches the family heads who traditionally are men to allow their wives to have a say in farming activities as in most cases they are the ones providing family labor at the farms;

- Encourages men to allow their wives and daughters to proactively get involved in project activities as they are more vulnerable due to their needs besides being responsible to feeding their families.

- The farming techniques taught are also women friendly such kitchen gardening, tree planting, mulching & cover-cropping, rain water harvesting among others.

- The farming techniques are also less expensive as most of them either use wastes and locally available materials hence affordable to the women who in most cases have minimum income sources.

- The activities earn the women incomes hence become attractive ventures to them i.e. selling surplus from their kitchen gardens, selling tree seedlings, fruits and fire wood.

- C-MAD assists the farmers to form groups and encourages the women to take leadership positions i.e. group officials like chair person, secretary or treasurer.

- The staffing at the organization also ensures that the women are at management level i.e. The Finance Manager, Administrator and the Head of Nutrition are all women. It has also implemented projects which are headed by women.


SOCIAL INCLUSION

The project encourages people of all genders to participate in its activities. While recruiting the beneficiaries, we ensured that people of different groups such as men, women, youths, elders and people living with disabilities were included. This mix of people ensures a society that is rich in knowledge. The elders in most cases have vast knowledge on culture and this information is vital, especially to the youth. The youth in most cases are fast learners and are m much more ahead in technology, hence they can easily share current information to their elders. When women are included and taught how they can venture into income generating activities then they become empowered and provide for their families.

During recruitment of the beneficiaries the organization stresses a diverse composition of beneficiaries so that at least 40% comprises the youth. The elders normally comprise the highest number of smallholder farmers and therefore there is no need to place extra stress on this group as they are naturally represented. People with disabilities are always encouraged to participate as the organization embraces permaculture and one of the permaculture ethics states that "care for the people" and this means regardless of their situation. This helps them feel appreciated and valued in the society. These are some of the ways we are seeking to build a broad coalition within our group in our participatory model.

Scalability

The farming approach promoted among the community is a participatory model. Identifying the lead farmers, training & empowering them thereafter tasking them to do peer to peer extension work creates ownership. The techniques are easily replicated with the other farmers because of this local empowerment, thus increasing scale via a participatory process.

The farming techniques have many advantages including lower production costs, improved environment, social cohesion (hence a highly acceptable process, not just the knowledge we are generating, but how we are generating it) and this makes it easier for most farmers to consider adopting what we are teaching and sharing and learning together.

Knowledge is shared among the community including the cultural knowledge they already have for how to improve their situations, for example the use of medicinal plants that elders can teach, thus also reinforcing community cohesion. To scale nationally we would focus on a participatory process.

Replicability

Training the lead farmers to become Trainers of Trainees through peer to peer extension work enhances replicability as the community can learn from their peers.

The organization collaborates with governmental and non-governmental organizations & will always hold stakeholders meetings where it shares what it does in terms of approaches and techniques. This enables these organizations to borrow these skills & knowledge and implement them on the ground.

Since the approach embraces a low input system, it will be easier to replicate as less expenditure is incurred hence lowering the production costs.

This also ensures environmental sustainability as purely organic inputs are used to improve the soil. Therefore, it can be easily adopted all over the country and also with the low income earners.

This approach addresses food security in the community, hence any organization implementing agricultural intervention open to community based participatory designs could implement this.

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