Sahelian Solutions Foundation, SASOL, is a Kenyan run non-government organization that focuses on devising and implementing solutions to food insecurity in Eastern Kenya, specifically Kitui County.
What is Food Insecurity?
The USDA defines food insecure people in two ways:
- Those living on less than 2,100 calories per day
- Those who do not have access to the right amount of nutritious food at all times, without relying on emergency food aid.
There are many likely causes of community wide food insecurity. In Kitui County, it is a combination of lack of water, poor soil quality, and lack of current best practice knowledge in agriculture. With the majority of people being subsistence farmers, when rains fail and crops don’t grow, the entire community suffers. It is because of this cycle that SASOL always starts with addressing the problem of lack of water.
Our initiatives to combat food insecurity in the Kitui region start with building sand dams and off-take wells that prolong the availability of water into the dry seasons. With sand dams located throughout the vulnerable areas, the community is able to meet their basic household needs for water, and even do small scale irrigation along the riverbanks if the rains were plentiful.
From water, we move on to conservation agriculture, dry-land farming, and value chain training to increase the capacity of local farmers. Another way of making water more accessible, specifically for agricultural production, is by planting drought tolerant crops, and implementing Conservation Agriculture techniques that make best use of the minimal water available.
Kitui is dominated by the Kamba tribe, who are well known for their value of kinship and for their love of music and dance, but it is also home to people from all around Kenya. You can find skilled artisans in basket weaving and wood carving, as well as many small business owners throughout the Kitui region. Unfortunately, when crops fail and the number of livestock begin to dwindle down, many people turn to charcoal burning or skipping meals to make it through. It is our goal at SASOL to stop this ongoing cycle, and increase the well-being of the community by helping to keep food and water consistently available to all people in Kitui.