The pandemic was a shock to the Kinyambu community as to all of us. They have had no outbreaks in the Kinyambu area and Kenya as a whole has had few cases per capita. The biggest problem has been the economic fallout. Many people in the Kinyambu area work in the tourist area which totally stopped for about 8 months in 2020 and has only slowly recovered since then. Of course no one from Canada has been able to visit and may not for a year or more yet.
Added to these troubles, a prolonged drought has hit the area. They didn't get the regular rains in April and they have not arrived yet in November. This has increased the food insecurity there and taken another source of cash which was selling some of their farm produce. This means that parents can't afford school uniforms with the addition of masks. For the secondary schools which are still mostly boarding schools they can't scrape the cash together to pay the fees and boarding costs as well. The government has responded with some extra support but it is far from enough.
Rainbow of Hope for Children (ROHFC) has provided support for the community as well as we can through this difficult time. We have provided masks and uniforms for school children. We have supported the local health center so that they have sanitation supplies including clean water. As an example, we helped them build a roof over one of their water tanks so that the water doesn't heat up in the tropical sun.
On a more positive note, the poultry raising project we funded has been doing very well. The Kinyambu Rural Education and Economic Development (KRECD) group developed this project with our support and financial assistance. The students in the first year have worked with their families to build housing, feed and care for their chickens and learn about management so that they can sell eggs or meat. It's a way for the families to raise a better, more productive, breed of chicken.
Before the pandemic, the local area around the bigger town of Kiwezi, about 10 kilometers from Kinyambu, was becoming a bigger hub for tourism and business. It is at the junction of 2 highways, the main Mombasa/Nairobi highway and another that joins it in the north. There is also a station for the new railway that opened a couple of years ago. When we stayed in Kibwezi for the first time in 2010, a mere 11 years ago, there were only a couple of very basic hotels with poor facilities. Now there are at least 10 with upgraded facilities and better food. All of these hotels need meat and eggs to feed their guests. The town has grown visibly during that time.
The huge Tsavo National Parks, East and West, are not far away from Kibwezi. As an example the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which works with saving elephants and other animals and rewilding them into the huge Tsavo National Park, has located one their lodges at Umani Springs, just across the highway from Kibwezi. Umani Springs in the Kibwezi Forest is one of their elephant sanctuaries.
The first year of the poultry project had 6 participants and the second year of the project will have 12. They will incorporate the things learned in the first year and also share what they have learned with the wider community.
As one example of the learning that has gone on, the poultry expert, who has done several seminars with the students and their families, suggested feeding maggots to the chickens as one way to increase the protein in their diets. One of the mothers did a very good job of this and then she taught others how to increase their maggot production.
We hope that this will contribute to the economic development in the area.