Flaring innovations have gone fluffy and fleecy in a small rural village of Nyametaburo in Kuria West, Migori County. Members of this community have gone out of their way to devise new mechanisms to help them fight forms of sheer destitution. Mobile Money Platform dubbed “Chama Solutions” has come in handy to liberate the community members from extreme poverty.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and Society for International Development 2013 National Report on “Exploring Kenya Inequality”, over 45.6% of the population in Migori County lives below the poverty line. This means that at least 5 out of every 10 people live in extreme poverty in this county. But the script could be changing, thanks to the innovation by residents who have seen enough of this.
Kuria West in particular has been hard hit by extreme poverty levels. The situation has been so devastating that more than 5 out 10 people in every household go hungry. This has seen organisations come up to sensitise the community and ending extreme poverty. Nuru Kenya is one such organisation. Established in 2008, it provides farmers with access to financial services and training on savings and loans.
This table banking system helps farmers form groups of at least eight members and use a unique model of savings. The groups have successfully transitioned into “Chama Solutions” through partnerships with the Kenya Commercial Bank.
Some 820 members of the community in Kuria West have come together to form 114 autonomous groups with a formal operational structure. They are trained on money management skills. They are also able to break barriers to accessing financial services and build income opportunities.
“Long term investment in local-led, holistic poverty reduction strategies are key in transforming communities and achieving sustainable development,” Pauline Wambeti, Nuru Kenya Country Director, said at an event in Kegonga-Kweriba.
Many farmers are empowered through various training. They are also able to address the mild-moderate economic shocks that would have otherwise overwhelmed them. They operate the group savings platforms at their convenience.
“We have so far impacted over 85,000 community members through the direct engagement of more than 20,000 farmers in our interventions since the year 2008,” added Mrs Wambeti. “Farmers have come out in large numbers to join cooperatives. This will not only enhance access to farm inputs and other livelihood opportunities but also expand markets for their produce.”
Residents of the Kuria Community, mainly farmers, have had turbulent times especially after the departure of their lead tobacco buyer, Alliance One, in 2014.
“We consider this as a breakthrough and a solution to our perennial financial problems. Initially, we feared that we will lose our money in this initiative. Currently we make regular savings and we are able to address any emergencies. We no longer live from hand to mouth! We are also able to venture into various businesses. We believe extreme poverty will be history in this community,” said Daniel Chacha, a leader in one of the Chama Solutions groups in Nyametaburo in Kuria West Sub-County.