A Homa Bay farmer’s triumph over the striga weed

Joel has been a farmer for as long as he can remember. But he had never harvested as much sorghum as he did during the last season and he feels that he would like to share his success with more people.

A farmer in Kanyada, Lieta village, Katuma Sub location in Homa Bay district and also a member of the ICT committee at the Kabunde Chief’s Camp community resource centre, Joel has also undergone training as a community communicator and is involved in bringing information closer to other community members. He is very grateful of the fact that the resource center has become a useful place where information on a many topics including farming methods is exchanged. It is for this reason that Joel decided to have his farming success story published in the Informer newsletter, a community newsletter produced by the AfriAfya knowledge management unit on behalf of community resource centers. It has a wide circulation in Kabunde.

When Joel was asked to explain his success, he had this to say: “I was among some farmers who were selected to undergo some training on a farming method called the “Push-Pull” strategy”. 
Joel says that he sub-divided his farm into two, where on one side he practiced the ‘push-pull’ strategy, while on the other he did not. He wanted to see the difference between the yields from the two sides. He says that he was surprised but at the same time happy to see that the strategy worked very well. He was able to harvest a lot more from the side of the farm where he had practiced the ‘push-pull strategy.

The “Push-Pull” strategy was developed by the International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE). AfriAfya has facilitated access to this information by linking the knowledge transfer unit of ICIPE to the community resource centres. This is a cropping method that is used to control both stem borer and Striga weed. The Striga weed which is commonly known as kayongo in the local language and the stem borer, which is a pest destroy maize and other grain crops such as sorghum and reduce the harvest for the farmer. Farmers are trained on how to use Napier grass and desmodium legume for the management of the weed and pest in their fields. Desmodium is planted in between the rows of maize while the Napier grass is planted around the maize crop.

However for this method to succeed, a farmer needs to undergo some training in order to understand all the steps involved. Joel is very happy to pass on his knowledge to as many farmers as possible. “Our people are hungry everyday because of poor crop yields and I would like to change this. I am ready and willing to assist as many farmers as I can to grow healthy maize and sorghum”, he says.

AfriAfya has been re-printing and distributing brochures on this method to all the resource centers to support in transferring knowledge of the technique to farmers.

International Human Rights Forum (IHRF)

International Human Rights Forum (IHRF) is an annual event with over 1, 200 people in attendance. It provides a platform where players from the private sector, politics, media, interest groups, science and the civil society can discuss human rights together. This forum aims to give birth to projects which are not only initialized but carried through to success. The IHRF 2010 themed “Human Rights and Pervasive Computing”, took place on May 18th and 19th in Lucerne, Switzerland and attracted people from across the globe. The 7th International Human Rights Forum Lucerne (IHRF) was concluded by the IHRF Concert Classic held at the Culture and Convention Center Lucerne (KKL) where the Human Rights Orchestra (HRO) was performed together with the exceptional Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires. The benefit concert’s goal was to enhance public awareness of human rights and support concrete human rights projects.

AfriAfya was selected as this year’s beneficiary to the funds raised from the concert. Representing AfriAfya was the Director, Dr. Koki Muli- Kinagwi who gave a talk about how AfriAfya has been using ICTs to improve access to health and development information for rural and marginalized communities. The Human Rights Orchestra is an initiative of the Musicians for Human Rights (MfHR) whose mission is to promote a culture of human rights and to help improve the lives of individuals and communities in need. The organization was founded in 2009 in Rome, Italy, by world-renowned horn player Alessio Allegrini and a group of fellow musicians, organizations and humanists active in grassroots efforts worldwide. benefit concert’s goal was to enhance public awareness of human rights and support concrete human rights projects.

Community health ambassadors in North Nyakach Location, Kisumu.

The work of community health ambassadors has become easier and more exciting since they can now generate computerized reports from the information gathered in their community. This became possible following the establishment and equipping with ICTs of the Gem Rae Community resource center in North Nyakach location, Kisumu. The resource centre was established through a partnership between AfriAfya and the Great Lakes University (formerly the Tropical Institute of Community Health) through the community based health information systems (CBHMIS) project.
One of the areas where the equipment has come in handy is in analyzing results of studies. One such study was a baseline survey that was conducted in the two sub locations of Gem Rae and Gem Nam in November 2005. The data collected included immunization coverage, antenatal care visits, food security, availability of birth certificates, facilities for deliveries and so on. Normally, the results of such a survey would have been analyzed manually, but this time, computers were on hand for that. The results of the study indicated that most expectant mothers opted to give birth at home instead of delivering at a health facility for delivery.

This was identified as a major concern in the whole location and in November last year a community dialogue meeting was held at the community chief’s camp to discuss this matter. In attendance were community members, health representatives from the Ministry of health and other stakeholders. There was a lively discussion which brought forth many ideas and also many concerns especially from mothers.

One mother said: “It is difficult to negotiate the fee which is too much for most of us with the hospital health workers. They are very unfriendly and end up hurling insults at you instead of listening to you”. This is when she was asked why she preferred home delivery instead of facility delivery. Others pointed out that after giving birth to the first born, the delivery of the other children was easier and they therefore saw no need of going to hospital.

The health care representatives present in the meeting said that although most community members were aware of the advantages of delivering in hospital, most were still reluctant due to more or less the same reasons that mothers had expressed.
Following the meeting, the community health ambassadors have been counseling expectant mothers in the location on the benefits of delivering their babies in a health facility. The mothers are contacted regularly to encourage compliance. The last follow up was done in the month of April 2007 and they report that response from the mothers has improved. They usually hold these community dialogue meetings ever quarter to disseminate findings of the data they collect. Recently AfriAfya took their work to a higher level by donating some PDAs that they can use to collect and analyse data right in the village instead of using too much paper.