Building Resilience

How can communities thrive and quickly bounce back when disaster strikes?
Having Options

It stands to reason that the more options available to people, the more opportunities exist for them to diversify or improve their livelihoods and avoid disaster. For example, a pest may wipe out one crop leaving the family with no food or income, but if you are growing several different crops the impact may be less severe.

In Ele Borr, livestock rearing has been the only option, but with the help of CCSMKE, women in the community are now rearing chickens for the first time. This provides different kinds of food for the family and enables women to earn money by selling eggs and chickens at the roadside to truck-drivers.

Now that the community has settled in one place, women are also learning how to make and store fodder for their animals and cultivate vegetables on farm plots.

Kabale Jillo’s story:

6016524s1080“Initially we had a lot of livestock and that’s how we survived, but over the years with the frequent droughts, we have lost the animals. I had to turn to breaking up stones for construction. It’s been hard to get by.

“Now I’m getting a lot of benefits from rearing poultry. I let the hens sit on the eggs and then they hatch into chicks. Then I raise them and I sell the cocks to travellers. Sometimes I take them all the way to the nearest market [80km]. I also get eggs, which I sell but, more importantly, we eat them ourselves.

“Before, a cock used to go for 300 Kenya shillings, but recently the price has gone up. One cock can go for as much as 600 to 700 shillings. When I sell four, five, six of them I can buy clothes my family. I can also buy school books and pens. I’m able to take care of household needs and I can do a lot of other things, including buying medicine.

“Things have changed ever since I started this poultry business. For one, my children’s health has improved because they are eating eggs. I’m also able to slaughter a hen once in a while. And in terms of bringing in income things are more equal in the household.

“When drought comes, productivity goes down, not only for other livestock but also for the poultry. Egg production goes down, and meat production goes down. However, given the poultry that I have, I should be able to withstand the drought – I don’t know for how long, but I might at least be in a better position than others who don’t have poultry.”

Having additional assets or safeguards

For poor people to diversify their livelihoods or to deal effectively with shocks or change, they need assets to fall back on. These might include savings to buy seeds and food, or medicines if a family member is sick; good health; land that lies above flood levels; a community grain bank; sturdy affordable housing; knowledge of alternative income generating opportunities; a network or community of supportive people, and social safety nets.

In the past the pastoralists of Ele Borr were reluctant to sell any livestock when drought or other crises threatened. Through Christian Aid’s UK government funded resilience building project, Christian Aid partner CCSMKE has helped pastoralists understand the strategic importance of destocking while livestock are still healthy. Now the community wants to improve their access to the livestock market.

Having a plan

A plan of action developed by the community and relevant local authorities or services means that people are better able to manage their environment, avoid knocks and shocks, reduce the impact of disasters or crises, or get back on their feet quickly.

Ele Borr’s new disaster risk reduction committee have helped families avoid the risk of fires and floods simply by spacing out and relocating homesteads.

In order to deal with the on-going threat of war with neighbouring tribes in the Moyale area and across the border in Ethiopia, CCSMKE have supported community elders to form peace committees on all sides and to instigate conflict-prevention measures.

Water is often in short supply so Ele Borr’s new environmental committee have instigated water conservation projects to capture and store as much water as they can from their environment. They also make sure the water is shared equitably among households and livestock, and they even share with the neighbouring tribe when it’s needed, something unheard of in the past. Some of the water infrastructure has been funded through Christian Aid’s humanitarian and DFID PPA programmes.

The environmental committee has also put in place local by-laws to prevent water catchments being contaminated through washing activities, thus women now wash clothes away from the water sources. In addition to water conservation, the committee have also encouraged livestock breeders to prevent over grazing and conserve pastureland. The community has even fenced off approximately 100 hectares of land to encourage the grass to grow which can be used for grazing or haymaking. This provides much-needed fodder in drier months.

Having ambitions

In order to help families increasingly expand their ability to cope with pressures, changes and hazards that affect them, it is important to support households to think beyond simply subsisting or surviving so that they can build the confidence and ability to grow their businesses, their assets and their options.

Nicholas Abuya, Resilience Officer, Christian Aid Kenya explains the role that markets can play in building resilience and profitability.

In the past the pastoralists of Ele Borr were reluctant to sell any livestock when drought or other crises threatened. Through Christian Aid’s UK government funded resilience building project, Christian Aid partner CCSMKE has helped pastoralists understand the strategic importance of destocking while livestock are still healthy. Now the community wants to improve their access to the livestock market.

Protecting health and well-being

Without good health, a poor family’s ability to earn an adequate living and keep out of the ‘danger zone’ is greatly reduced. If a livelihood activity earns money but results in putting health at risk, this will compromise the family’s resilience.

As a result of CCSMKE and Christian Aid’s resilient livelihoods project, women identified that their health could improve with a more diverse diet. Through the new livelihood initiatives, this now includes vegetables, eggs and chicken meat. The local government also agreed to fund the construction of a dispensary in the community.

This also created additional employment opportunities as community members have provided the labour. But its not only human health that has to be protected. In communities dependent on livestock, good animal health is also vital.

Having a Say

To achieve all this, all members of a community need to be able to voice their individual and collective risks or needs both within the community and to those outside the community such as NGOs and government authorities. They need the confidence to make choices and the belief that they can change their situation.

The importance of participation and accountability

Involving all the community, especially women and young people, in the process to identify community risks and needs led to the discovery in Ele Borr that men, women and children are all affected in different ways by different things, but especially when drought or conflict strike.

NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL

Different people in different contexts face different sets of pressures and risks. That is why it is important that households and communities are in control of the process of identifying the issues in their own context and deciding what the most appropriate and sustainable solutions are for them.

What does this look like in practice?

What our local partner organisation says…

Rubia Mwaniki from CCSMKE explains how they supported the community to identify their risks and embark on building their own resilience.

Results of an all-inclusive community approach

What are the main challenges?