The area near Mt. Elgon in Western Kenya is considered to be the “grain belt of Kenya.” This land at 7,000 ft altitude is very fertile and receives plenty of rainfall each year. As a result, many farmers make a living in the area. Given the rich soil and great growing potential, it is hard to believe that some people are going hungry, but that is exactly the situation for hundreds of families in the region.
“Government land redistributions and tribal conflicts have forced many people to flee their villages because of the violence,” explains Lee Mys, an international relief manager for CRWRC in Kenya. “These families have moved to neighboring villages with only the clothes on their backs. They have no way to make a living now except to depend on host villages who themselves are poor.”
Some of the refugee families can work for other farmers, but because there are so many families displaced there are not enough jobs for them all and the daily wage for hired help has gone down.
To help meet the needs in this region, CRWRC decided to initiate an emergency food distribution program with funds available from the Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) and the Canadian Government (CIDA).
First, a CRWRC assessment team located the areas with the most displaced families. Next, CRWRC helped the local villages in these areas form village committees which could identify the families who were most in need. In total, 4,000 families were identified. Each of these families will now receive 50 kg of maize and 10kg of dried beans each month for the next four months.
Irene Nangekhe (age 17) is one of the people being helped by this program. She had lived in the village of Kapkatony on the mountain until her house was burned down, her parents were killed, and she and her four siblings (ages 3, 5, and 6) were forced to flee for their own safety. They arrived in Chewele village where a “good Samaritan” listened to her story and took them in.
Happy to have a roof over her head, Lydia still found it difficult to provide for her siblings. She did weeding for a local farmer and received about 50 Kenyan shillings a day (about $0.75 US), but it was not enough to buy food, clothing, and medical supplies for the family. Like other young girls in her situation, she was beginning to consider whether she might have to turn to prostitution to survive.
The CRWRC food distribution program eased her anxiety. It is enabling her to provide for her siblings’ food needs so that her other earnings can be used for clothing, mosquito nets, and other supplies. She is grateful that she won’t have to compromise her values in order to survive.
Please join CRWRC in praying for the people, like Lydia, who are living through this difficult time. Pray that the violence in Mt. Elgon will end soon and that families can return to their villages and farms. Please also pray for the CRWRC food distribution program, that it will continue to meet the needs of those who are suffering.
~ Kristen deRoo Vanderberg