Compilled by:Alexander Musyoka
Strengthening social community structures:Case study of TATA UMANYE food security group in Kalivu location,Kitui South Sub-County,Kenya.
“Tata umanye” literally meaning “trying to know” started in the year 2012 by 30 members(25F,5M) who came together for sand dam building initiatives integrated with dryland farming techniques practices with emphasis on green gram crop farming supported by MCC/CFGB via SASOL. Tata Umanye has been able to transform from a sand dam group to a food security group.
In the first year(2012) the group was the first on to complete their sand dam (K.Ndula) Sand dam building was integrated on farm water and soil moisture retention practises(terraces,zai pits) and fruit tree planting(passion & pawpaw) The group was also implemented with green grams,sorghum and dolicos seeds though they did not harvest anything as the rains completely failed in that season.All these were integrated with farmer trainings on group dynamics and Good Agronomic Practices(GAPs) In 2013,the group built their 2nd sand dam(Kalaita)In the same year, the group opened a bank account with KCB bank following trainings on financial literacy conducted by K-REP via SASOL. They had sold green grams produce realized during the OND rains for kes 2,700 arousing quest for raising incomes through joint savings.
A FGD with the group conducted in July 2017 generates the following story;
Table banking approach
In 2014,we started a merry go round of 24 members contributing kes 20 every member every week.We bought household cutlery for each memeber in the first round.In the precedind rounds,we would keep the monney in our bank account.During this period we met officers from Uwezo Fund who capacity built us on table banking approach and applied for the fund.
In April 2015, we had saved kes 7,000.We got kes 50,000 from Uwezo Fund with an interest of kes 2,500 and a payment period of 2 years with a grace period of 6 months.Members had mixed reactions over the use of the funds;
- Equal sharing among members and people contributing every month to repay back
- Buying goats,breed and sell them to repay back the loan
- Undertake table banking and generate funds to repay the loan
We voted on the use of the funds where table banking got the majority votes thus we immediately ventured into it.Within 6 months,we had accumulated kes 81,000 in our account.We repaid the loan in 4 months installments(11,000,11,000,15,000 & 15,000) We continued to contribute kes 20 per member/week for savings.By this time we had a balance of kes 72,000 left in the bank.We used the same to buy seeds for the members to plant during the rain seasons. In April 2016,we purchased a plot at Tangai market centre at a cost of kes 50,000 and paid in 4 installments upto September 2016.In December 2016,we received an interest free loan of kes 45,000 from Pamoja Women Group,an affiliate of Uwezo fund.We agreed to give each member kes 2,500 to purchase goats as a way of strengthening our livelihoods.The goats have multiplied and each member is free to sell in case of financial constraints.We also come together and contribute for members in need of school fees for their children.We often give needy members some grants from the kitty for support.
We have already purchased quarry stones for construction of our plot for farm produce aggregation and rent the other part and now in the process of mobilizing other building materials.
Our financial status stands at kes 116,800(kes 7,800 at the bank,kes 109,000 as member loans)
Our motivation to keep going is contributed by:
- Respect for our contributions with members expected to pay their loans as obliged.
- Respect among members
- Transparency and participatory decision making
- Rewarding members via support with seeds,goats and grants
Challenge:Loan defaulting by members and regular talks to honor payments.We are also engaged in awareness creation and sensitization to our members on the need for regular loan payments.
Integration of CA with table banking
In march 2016,we got introduced to CA project through SASOL and agreed to experiment with it alongside our table banking.We were trained on importance of CA ,minimum soil disturbance(ripping,planting holes & basins),soil cover(mulching & cover crops),weed management,pests and disease control and crop residue management.We saw CA as the most appropriate technology to address the food security situation in our area as it maximises the little available moisture and we agreed that every member would set aside a 1/8 acre plot to try CA.We established a farmer learning site and planted Sorghum with green grams.In the first OND 2016 short rains,and the crops completely failed due to poor rains.Even though we didn’t harvest anything,we could see the difference between the CA and conventional plots as CA crop stayed longer before drying.
The MAM 2017 long rains were somehow better.We had planted sorghum and green grams using minimum soil disturbance via ripping with oxen where we were able to harvest 120 kgs of green grams and 80 kgs of sorghum.Were it not for our savings from the table banking,we would have lost CA crop to African Army worms that had invaded the farms.
Tata Umanye is one of the groups that SASOL has earmarked for the VSLA approach to strengthen their capacity and internalize the approach.