The Kenyans for Kenya initiative is a fundraiser that was started in July 2011 by corporate leaders and the Kenya Red Cross in response to media reports of famine and deaths from starvation in Turkana county.
The native of Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Murang’a said that unlike before when drought and competition for scarce resources led to conflicts between the Turkana and other cattle herders across the country’s border, the ongoing hunger crisis has brought the previously warrying communities together.
“The Turkana of Kenya and the Nyangatom community of Ethiopia cross the border freely in search of grazing fields. When the Kenyan government distributes food, the people from Ethiopia come to get some. The same happens when there is food distribution in Ethiopia. The Turkana go to get some for their families,” he said.
“Our great hope is God to give us rain, since we are at peace with our brothers and sisters from our neighboring countries, no more sounds of gunshot and this is our real joy,” the Priest who led a group of Turkana elders to Ethiopia for peace talks last year said.
In a previous interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Githinji said that missionaries in the region run a model farm where locals come to get farming tips. He said that locals who solely depended on cattle are learning to embrace farming as an alternative source of food.
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“We grow vegetables, tomatoes, watermelons and grains. Many people come here to get farming tips and are given seeds and other support they need to start farming. Our aim is to show them that they can get food from the farm as well,” he said.
He added that Priests at St. Joachim and Anne Kibish Parish have also introduced farming lessons in schools to help the Turkana children grow with the knowledge that they can get food from the farm.
“We have also been trying to plant trees that can survive in this dry climate especially along Lake Turkana. We hope that the community can follow suit,” Fr. Githinji said, and added, “I believe that with the necessary support, agriculture will be at the heart of this region in some 50 years to come.”
The Catholic Priest who ministered in South Sudan for 10 years before being sent to minister among the Turkana community said that the Catholic Parish supports local farmers in various ways, including the provision of farm tools as well as tips to manage their farms.
“We understand that these are pastoralists who are trying to embrace farming as the alternative sources of livelihood. The adjustment is not easy for them. We therefore try to support them during farm visits where we supply them with farm tools and also offer them training on how to handle pests and how to manage their produce,” he said.
Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.