The project is aimed at strengthening the capacities women and youths to take care of their immediate and long term livelihood needs by involving them in activities that provide alternative to fishing that is depleted and increasing their household income through initiating sustainable projects that facilitate their access to social, human, financial and physical capital for income generation.
Building on the existing local activities and community programs as well as the Rusinga Island Community’s resource endowment, the project reach out to over 5000 youths in Rusinga Kamasengre West who are organised in social groups of maximum 20 members and emphaisize on mitigation of negative socio-economic effects of poverty. The project also work with the local producers and resource persons to mentor and spur meaningful production that can be sustainably structured to meet the identified immediate and long-term needs.
While VFM is on the path to uplift the economic growth of the Rusinga community, poverty alleviation remains a challenge. Nearly half of the islands 35,000 people live below the poverty line or unable to meet their daily nutritional requirements. The poverty level in Rusinga is estimated at 55% which is above the county level of 43.1%. This is supported by the baseline survey recently conducted by VFM whose report revealed that more than half of the population lives in extreme poverty. According to the report, families live below 1.32 US Dollar a day and often go with only one meal a day. This has a devastating effect on the wellbeing of the community in access to education, health, clothing and shelter care, nutrition as well as other basic needs and infrastructure.
The situation is compounded by several social and economic factors that include poverty, lack of access to health care services, stigma and discrimination, retrogressive cultural practices among others. According to Kenya Situation Analysis report (UNFPA 2013), Kenya is struggling to meet the needs of the rapidly growing populations. It is evidenced from various government reports that large shares of Kenyan population are vulnerable to food, clean water and more sadly to primary health care services with most areas in the arid and semi arid lands bearing the greatest brunt to social and cultural factors and detachment from basic social amenities and infrastructure provided by the government.
While the Country is struggling to mitigate the ever increasing challenges with population growth, it is evident that the current population’s poverty alleviation needs are above what the Country can provide. Critical look at the Vision 2030 for example brings to the fore, several gaps in terms of indicators to measure significant strides in poverty alleviation particularly at the primary levels. Measures of poverty alleviation through empowerment of communities remain more generic than specific. The attention of policy makers and programmers have over the years been significantly drawn to blue print formulation, provision of structural and policy formulation rather than execution and tackling poverty at the roots using the synergy of communities resources endowment.
The above challenges notwithstanding, Kenya promulgated a new constitution in 2010 that aimed at bringing resources and services closer to the people by allocating resources and involving people in development services at the primary levels. The constitution has also devolved key sectors such as agriculture and Small Micro Enterprise (SMEs) programming to the Counties in order to meaningfully address issues of poverty at the local levels.
Nevertheless, the implementation of the new constitution has in many ways affected service provision and barely laid framework for significant reduction of poverty almost in each of the 47 Counties of Kenya. According to the various media reports, there are highlighted poverty reduction and community empowerment flagship projects that have for the past four years remained white elephants. Those that have been effectively implemented have been spread so thin with no meaningful impact on the livelihoods of the targeted population. This often soar up if such projects get implemented in communities with poor resource endowment and detached from the rest of the world by economic and infrastructural factors such as roads and energy. Rusinga community lies in such resource constrained settings. The efforts of the community members in fending for their livelihood therefore has been skewed around fishing in Lake Victoria whose resources have been depleted due to poor fishing methods and climate changes.