East Kenya: Working Towards Food Security

Toward the end of 2010 the United Nations declared a famine in the Horn of Africa, compounded by a tremendous number of refugees fleeing Somalia for East Kenya. I decided to return to Africa and see what AMURTEL could do to help provide support to the women and children in the rapidly forming refugee camps.

Once there it became clear a desperate need was to address the alarming rise of malnutrition in the children. After meeting with women’s organizations, other NGOs working in the area, agricultural experts, and evaluating our capacity, we chose to partner with staff from Abha Light Homeopathic Clinic (www.abhalight.org/home) in Woti, the SE part of Kenya, and focus on developing spirulina farms.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that thrives in warm alkaline fresh water. Internationally, it is being developed as the “food of the future” because of its high protein content as well as essential amino acids and vitamins, minerals and iron in an easily available and digestible form. It can easily be grown in tanks, harvested, solar dried and fed to malnourished children, (which in Kenya is one in three).

In January 2011 we began training local women in the how to grow and manufacture this amazing food. We started with 2 ponds and this year have expanded to 4 ponds, doubling production. We set up a feeding program for malnourished children through the homeopathic clinic and gave 100 children a supply of Spirulina and porridge for three months, tracking their height, weight and arm circumference to see the results. Periodically we hold trainings to teach more people how to develop Spirulina farms, with the hope of spreading the capacity to create this nutritious food.

After a successful beginning, Amurtel plans to continue to expand the project and build 3 more permanent tanks.