Working together against climate change: Two wards in Nakuru County will soon benefit from the County Climate Change Fund
Photo Credit I Kenya Forestry Service

Nakuru wards to start reaping from climate change fund

Working together against climate change: Two wards in Nakuru County will soon benefit from the County Climate Change Fund
Photo Credit I Kenya Forestry Service
Working together against climate change: Two wards in Nakuru County will soon benefit from the County Climate Change Fund Photo Credit I Kenya Forestry Service

By Francis Mureithi I

Nessuit and Mauche wards in Nakuru County will soon start benefiting from the County Climate Change Fund following a training from a consortium of civil society organisations.

 Nakuru County is following in the footsteps of Kajiado, Baringo and Makueni counties, which have vibrant, operational Ward Climate Change Planning Committees.

The two wards  have undergone training by a consortium of partners led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Kenya). The other members include Slum Dwellers International and the Arid Lands Information Network.

Already, Ward Climate Change Planning Committees (WCCPCs) have been trained on a process called Participatory Climate Risk Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment.

“Our 2023 plan is to build the capacity of Nessuit and Mauche Ward Climate Change Planning Committees on the development of climate change proposals in order to benefit from County Climate Change Fund and Financing Locally Led Climate Actions (FLLoCA),” says Bob Aston, ALIN’s Project Officer.

The committees will oversee the implementation of the funded climate change response projects as provided for in the Nakuru County Climate Change Fund Regulations, 2022.

The county government has allocated two per cent of its annual development budget to address climate action. About 70 per cent of this amount is earmarked for projects proposed by WCCPCs.

Of the 12 WCCPC members, nine are community representatives, including youth, women, persons with disability, and special interest groups.

The Ward Climate Change Planning Committees are an important avenue for implementing locally-led climate actions as they coordinate and mobilise communities and other stakeholders in the ward to design and implement climate change response activities.

Development of Nessuit and Mauche Ward level climate action and investment forms part of the consortium’s priority plan to support communities to achieve food security and a safe environment through the provision of practical and usable information using ICT.

ALIN has stepped up its efforts to improve the livelihoods of communities in East Africa through the delivery of knowledge and skills on sustainable agriculture, and adaptation to climate change using modern technologies.

We care for the environment - projects in Nakuru county aim at involving all persons to keep climate change at bayPhoto Credit I Kenya Forestry Service

How people with disability fight climate change through local forest associations

Tree planting in Nakuru: Vulnerable groups in Nakuru are embarking on a series of activities to help fight negative impacts of climate change. Photo Credit I Kenya Forestry Service
Tree planting in Nakuru: Vulnerable groups in Nakuru are embarking on a series of activities to help fight negative impacts of climate change. Photo Credit I Kenya Forestry Service

By Francis Mureithi I

People with disability in Nakuru County situated in Kenya’s Rift Valley, are working through community forest associations to fight the negative effects of climate change.

Daniel Gathiru, a member of Menengai Community Forest Association, which is affiliated with the National Alliance of Community Forest Associations (NACOFA), says his community is integrated with people with disability in a bid to strengthen the fight against climate change.

“Persons with disability living within a radius of five kilometres from the forest boundary are highly affected by climate change because of their disability. People who are blind or with physical disability cannot go to collect firewood yet they need water, food and energy,” says Gathiru.

“For this reason, we incorporate them in our strategies to combat climate change to address the unique challenges they struggle to overcome daily.”

Menengai Community Forest Association, which is domiciled in Kiamaina Ward, has a membership of more than 700 out of which 50 are persons with disability.

Gathiru, who is also a climate change representative from Kiamaina Ward, is optimistic that in the next five or 10 years the Ward Climate Change Planning Committees will be a game changer in the 55 wards in Nakuru County.

“These committees will turn around the lifestyles of the most vulnerable people at the grassroots as they will have an opportunity to leverage issues related to climate change and upgrade their livelihoods. Their level of reliance on forests for firewood as a source of energy will dip as they will get money to develop alternative sources of energy,” he says.

The planning committees are expected to transform into a big business empire as they will get money that could be used to make energy-saving jikos, undertake value addition in fish farming, climate-smart agriculture, beekeeping and tree nurseries, and this is touted to have the possibility to translate to more money in their pockets and more food on their tables.

Stephen Obama, who represents people with disability in the Barut Ward Climate Change Committee, says he has many roles in the committee, including resource mobilisation, steering the committee as the chairperson, organising training sessions for community members and stakeholders within the ward, besides identifying projects that could fight climate change and improve livelihoods.

In Nakuru County a lot of training has been undertaken by a consortium of organisations who have targetted youth groups persons with disabilities and women Photo Credit I Kenya Forestry Service

Mr Obama says his expertise and experience on matters of climate change is an added value to the committee.

“I try to make it easy for the committee to implement adaptation measures that affect members with disability,” he says.

The impact of climate change on persons with disability in Barut is evident as many have been displaced and their livestock swept by floods.

“Many members border Lake Nakuru National Park and when the water levels rose, at least five persons with disability were displaced and they have never returned home,” says Obama.

People with disability are also unable to do fishing in the overflowing waters due to insecurity and harassment.

“Some families of persons with disability have broken down as the breadwinners have no other source of income as they cannot do fishing,” said Mr Obama.

A group of environmentalists plant trees at Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o Botanical Garden in Kisumu County, western Kenya.

Environmentalists to unite in greening lakeside city

A group of environmentalists plant trees at Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o Botanical Garden in Kisumu County, western Kenya.

By Steve Misori I

Environmental groups have pledged to collaborate in an effort to increase tree cover in Kisumu County.

While speaking at Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o Botanical Garden, the organisations said that henceforth they will work as a team to amplify their voices in key decision making on environmental matters including local control of forest resources.

Ms. Rebecca Akoth, the director of Miya Ywech, said her organization will work closely with, and support environmental organizations across the city to conserve the forests.

She added that environment based groups should be involved in key decision making to enable effective local control of forest resources. Miya Ywech advocates for zero solid waste in the lakeside city.

“It is painful that environmental groups have failed to confront challenges as a unit. It is time we came together to address the ever-elusive environmental concerns for healthy living,” Akoth said.

The county’s city manager Abala Wanga said that he will put his weight behind enhancing good working environment for the environmental groups. With the new collaboration, he added, it would be possible to realise the required tree cover in the city.

“Prof. Wangari Maathai underscored the value of forests even in cities because they clean up the environment and give people places to go to. Forests are not just about beauty, there is a scientific rationale on why we need forests in urban spaces,“ said Wanga.

Kisumu Environmental Champions, an organization whose campaign involves around ‘Let Lake Victoria Breathe Again, called on the youths to take advantage of the new found collaboration to effect environmental responsibility.

Rahmina Paullete, the founder of Kisumu Environmental Champions, reminded the youths of their responsibility in protecting the environment. She lauded the county government of Kisumu for a spirited campaign to redeem the beauty of the city.

“We need to bring the youth together and support them in protecting our environment. The question we need to ask is, how do we create an environment where people can freely talk about issues affecting our environment?” posed Paullete.

Peter Okwiny, the director of Shining Hope for Communities (Shofco) said the organization will work closely with all stakeholders and support ‘Greening Kisumu County’ in order to achieve the key environmental goals.  He stressed that trees thrive because communities are holding onto them, hence a great call for unity in redeeming their place in the society.

Okwiny charged that the society has a moral obligation and an environmental responsibility to protect the earth and its inhabitants for future generations. He observed that environmental pollution is an incurable disease that can only be prevented. He pleaded with all the stakeholders present to unite and enlighten the communities on the importance of planting and conserving trees.

 “The environment is not our place of luxury; it is a necessity. The environment is everything. A healthy ecology is the basis for a healthy economy,” he said.

The latest tree planting campaign comes in the wake of new research that found out that many groups at the grassroots level in Kenya, especially women and youths participate actively and in large numbers in conserving forests and environment. In line with the new finding, there is need to bring these people together and support their environmental activities in order to realize the call for a greener society.  

Late last year, a new finding by Organisation for Sustainable Environmental Protection (OSEP) established that the local women groups and youth groups were more concerned with environmental conservation than women and youths in the urban centers. In its report, it recommended to the government to empower more women in the village set ups in order to realize key environmental needs.

1. Sand photos

Government asked to regulate sand harvesting in western Kenya

The aftermath of sand harvesting in Apuko village in Kobuya location in Homa Bay county

By Steve Misori I

Every day break, tens of lorries drive to the river banks near Lake Victoria within Wang’chieng’ ward, Homa Bay County in western Kenya and leave packed with sand.

Their activities support construction of houses in the neighbouring counties of Kisii and Nyamira and guess what? The 24-hour harvesting activity not only leaves protruding and ugly rocks behind but also bare rivers in the affected areas.

There is no denying that the constant sand harvesting could spell doom and untold climatic disaster for the residents of Kobuya, Kajiei, Kodumo and Kamwala villages.

Local leaders believe the sand harvesting business won’t end soon since it is preferably the major source of income for the unemployed youths despite exposing them to death traps and displacements.  

Even as land owners release hundreds of tons to the truck owners for meagre pay, they believe such a move is better than sleeping hungry.

“Sand is all I cling on to survive. In a day, I can earn Ksh. 2400 (USD 18) to push through life. Sometimes, we harvest sand to the detriment of our grazing areas, leading to our animals lacking water. We are not doing this for fun – we are doing it because we have to feed our children and take them to school,” said a local resident who sought anonymity.

Fredrick Gaya, the director of Youth Empowerment Bridge Organization Africa (YEBO) believes there is unavoidable need to regulate the sand harvesting industry. He wonders why the government is not keen on coming up with regulations which could help protect the environment in general and the locals in particular.

“The villages which are victims of the sand harvesting activity are on the verge of collapse. The activity has swept away most sections of the river banks, threatening the lives of over 10,000 locals. The government should come up with specific regulations to guide this lucrative business,” Gaya told the locals during a meeting convened by the area chief, Mathews Onyango at Chuoye Beach.

The aftermath of sand harvesting in Apuko village in Kobuya location in Homa Bay county

Gaya, an environmental activist, says that sand harvesting should be controlled since it can deplete water catchment areas. He pleaded with locals to strike a balance between it and environmental conservation. He challenged the locals to look at the bigger picture of the environment without focusing on the short-term economic value.

“Sand harvesting employs a number of our youths and the construction of buildings is not ending now. However, there should be regulations on recommended distance that the activity should operate from with regard to homes. This activity leads to the drying up of aquifers, river bed erosion, water pollution together with loss of valuable animal species,” he added.

While weighing in into the looming crisis, Onyango, warned local leaders against reading politics in whatever action the government takes to protect the environment. His sentiments were echoed by Victor Obuya, the area Member of County Assembly, who asked the local residents to support the county government’s efforts in mitigating the effects of floods.  

“Politicians should give government room to address the concerns of the people. Sand harvesting is already piling uncontrolled pressure on rivers and flood plains, leading to displacement, erosion and emergence of water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and bilharzia,” said the chief.

According to Erick Dinda, a site engineer, there is serious need for an inventory to understand how much sand is left based on the region, what damage has been done and the best remedy for the damage.

“Regrettably, there exists no record to show how much sand will be needed in future development. There is also no record of the amount of sand in stock, the damages already caused by the harvest and mitigating measures in place,” he said.

Dinda expressed confidence the locals comply with government restrictions since doing so will conserve water and protect livelihoods.

The massive destruction to the environment witnessed in this area comes at a time when experts have called on ordinary citizens to safeguard their immediate environments to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a lot of them expressing fears that the world is lagging in most of the 17 SDGs.

SGD 15 as a case in point aims to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Sand harvesters caught on camera during a tour by this writer
Stephen Muchiri, Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation. He is calling for enhanced partnership for joint advocacy with the seed sector in Africa

World Seed Congress: Lobbyists call for partnerships to drive uptake of seed varieties.

Stephen Muchiri, Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation. He is calling for enhanced partnership for joint advocacy with the seed sector in Africa

By Henry Mangome I

Leading lobby groups attending the World Seed Congress in Cape Town have called for close cooperation between them, seed companies and government to increase the uptake of new seed varieties in Africa.  

Stephen Muchiri, Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) who represents nearly 25 million farmers, said that seed companies hardly involve farmers when deciding on what crops to research on and breed.

His remarks were shared by Gerald Masila, Executive Director of Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGCC) with a membership of about four million individuals.

The two experts were making contributions in a panel discussion titled Agri-Food Value Chain Opportunities in Africa and Beyond.

Seed companies, they said, should work with other actors in the value chain to participate in formulating and hence recognising government policies for the attainment of food security as well as in enhancing uptake of new technologies. 

Stephen Muchiri, Chief Executive Officer, Eastern Africa Farmers Federation. He is calling for enhanced partnership for joint advocacy with the seed sector in Africa

Muchiri also accused the government of introducing punitive regulations and taxes that stifle farming.

Masila added that there is a big disconnect between the private and the public sectors in seed varieties breeding, which has often led to poor uptake of the new varieties.

He advised breeders to first identify the market demands before deciding on varieties to breed to reverse the trend where investors and donors are the key decision makers, leading to farmers rejecting varieties on offer.

“Market should be the springboard for research undertaking and not the other way round,” said Masila.

He said that farmers hardly adopt new seeds and technologies due to poor communication by the seed sector and distorted information by sources outside the industry.

“The agenda in breeding must address the needs of key stakeholders right from the consumers to the needs of the farmer, be they yield or consumer preferences, for acceptance of the final product,” said Masila.

He said that low research and investments by public institutions have resulted in external investors and private seed companies setting their own agenda in breeding, leaving out farmers in decisions made.

Gerald Masila, Executive Director, Eastern Africa Grain Council says there is need for tailor made seed breeding interventions putting the farmer at the centre of decision making

According to a report by The African Seed Access Index (TASAI), a seed industry research body, the number of varieties sold in 2017 vis a viz varieties released between 2000 and 2017 in Nigeria stood at 33 per cent for maize and 46 per cent for sorghum. For Kenya maize scored 21 per cent and sorghum 37 per cent.

According to Mainza Mugoya, the Regional Coordinator at TASAI, calculating the level of acceptance and uptake of new varieties in Africa remains a grey area because not all countries have updated national variety catalogues. He added that when the private sector releases a variety, they do not always market it immediately as they may first want to test the market before producing large quantities and this may take time.

Muchiri said that for sustained growth of the certified seed sector, governments should stop their dictatorial policies, which leave farmers reeling from the effects of one-sided decisions.

“Government needs to be the convenor and not competitor of the seed sector, with farmers at the centre to ensure correct information flow. Be the regulator and play the oversight role but don’t be dictatorial,” he said.

“Farmers are left on their own and we as an association find it hard to show that we have the backing of everyone in the value chain. This calls for joint lobbying for policies and other matters affecting the seed sector.”

Responding to the concerns by the lobby groups, Seed Trade Association of Kenya Executive Officer Duncan Onduu said that his association is ready to work with farmers and they have already begun to consult with the Kenya National Farmers Federation.


Onduu said it pays to bring farmers on board whenever issues of research arise so that they stay in sync with the research agenda for the realisation of food security.


Kisumu County Executive Committee member Tourism head Farida Salim participates in the launch of a new anti-pollution mobile phone application yesterday.
Photo Credit: Steve Misori

Lakeside city welcomes waste mobile phone app as the world marks Environment Day

Kisumu County Executive Committee member Tourism head Farida Salim participates in the launch of a new anti-pollution mobile phone application yesterday. Photo Credit: Steve Misori

By Steve Misori I

A mobile phone application that is expected to help reduce plastic pollution in Lake Victoria has been launched.

Dubbed M-Taka, the app seeks to help residents living around the lake region manage their plastic wastes through information dissemination and exchange.  

The new invention comes at a time when there has been increased plastic pollution in the country especially in the lake region.

Speaking during the World Environment Day in Kisumu, western Kenya, managing director of Taka, Benson Abila, said the invention of the mobile phone app was necessitated by the dynamics posed by  plastic waste disposal.

Mr. Abila said that the app will offer locals a new platform to sign up and receive local waste management tutorials.

“This app seeks to promote effective plastic waste management by ensuring locals access ready remedies in environmental conservation,” he said.

The environmentalist decried the rising level of plastic waste presence, which has frustrated the efforts of attaining a cleaner Kisumu city.

“We shall station our agents in every corner of the city in order to reach out to locals willing to give out their plastic waste for recycling,” he announced.

He noted that the app enhances the low recycling percentage to even greater heights since it is an environmental savvy tool. He reiterated that it will push the recycling of plastics to about 100 per cent and their role in the whole process is to sensitize the residents on their actual input in managing waste.

Speaking at the event, Stela Kamwasir, the Nyanza regional director National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) termed M-Taka a timely innovation.

“As stakeholders, we believe the initiative is the only practical and convincing way to stop plastic bottles from entering the lake,” she said.

The environment officer said that even as the locals are sensitized, they must desist from the common practice of adopting the use and dumping of plastic materials.

She challenged the youths to take up their space in meaningful plastic waste disposal referring to them “as the greatest consumers of the plastic wastes.”

Ms Kamwasir identified streets and institutions of learning as the greatest sources of plastic wastes, adding that youths have a responsibility to dispose plastic wastes in a manner that protects the environment and water sources.  

The mobile app has a number of features which include plastic waste management services, tutorials on recycling plastic wastes and the benefits of embracing a clean environment.

Early this year, studies showed fish samples in the lake’s Winam Gulf contained traces of micro plastics. In mid-2017, the government of Kenya introduced the gradual ban of plastics in order to protect water sources which are providers of life.  The government is yet to register success on the actualization of the ban.

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution, ‘Ecosystem Restoration’. It is a reminder that people’s action on plastic matters as the material is slowly seeping into our oceans, soil and forest and causing irreparable damage.

Dandora Dumping site in Nairobi, Kenya. The country will host a major global meeting on plastic pollution in November. Photo Credit – James Wakibia.

Kenya to host key global meeting on plastics pollution

Dandora Dumping site in Nairobi, Kenya. The country will host a major global meeting on plastic pollution in November. Photo Credit – James Wakibia.

By Odhiambo David |

Kenya is set to hold the third Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) on plastic pollution from 13-17, November 2023 in a move seen by experts as an attempt to provide an invaluable opportunity to build upon the progress made during the previous meetings.

The gathering which aims to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (Plastic Pollution INC-3) will take place at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The instrument will provide a framework for countries to take coordinated action in reducing and managing plastic pollution, as well as promote sustainable practices and cooperation.

The event comes as a response to a resolution adopted by the resumed fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) which requests the UNEP Executive Director to convene an INC with the aim of developing an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution.

The INC meeting brings together representatives from governments and relevant stakeholders to negotiate and develop the terms of an international agreement that will address the issue of plastic pollution, particularly in marine environments.

Although a zero draft was not finalized during the negotiations in the just concluded INC-2 in Paris, all member states unanimously agreed that the INC secretariat should work on developing a zero draft for further discussions during INC-3.

Dr. Tadesse Amera, leading the International Pollutants Elimination Network’s delegation at the talks, acknowledged the pressing need for global controls over plastic production. He highlighted the projections that indicate plastic production will double by the time a child born today turns 18, emphasizing the disastrous consequences for our health, the planet, and the climate. Despite the high stakes, there is growing awareness among delegates about the imperative need for global measures to address this issue.

As Kenya prepares to host INC-3, the world anticipates a decisive step forward in the global fight against plastic pollution. With Kenya’s renowned commitment to environmental conservation, the international community is hopeful that the upcoming negotiations will pave the way for effective and comprehensive strategies to tackle plastic pollution, safeguard ecosystems, and secure a sustainable future for all.

In 2017, Kenya implemented one of the world’s strictest plastic bag bans. The ban prohibits the production, sale, and use of plastic bags, promoting the adoption of eco-friendly alternatives. This decisive action has played a crucial role in reducing plastic pollution and raising awareness about the harmful effects of single-use plastics.

“The plastic bag ban has raised awareness among Kenyan consumers about the negative impacts of plastic pollution. It has encouraged individuals to adopt more environmentally friendly behaviors, such as carrying their own reusable bags when shopping. This change in consumer behaviour contributes to a culture of sustainability and responsible consumption,” said Aron Kecha, Centre for Environment Justice and Development (CEJAD) representative during a media engagement held by MESHA in Nairobi late last month.


A water harvesting dam on display at a recent open day at Kalro Kabete. Experts want ordinary citizens to take up water harvesting urgently to help fight changes brought about by climate change. 
Photo Credit: Aghan Daniel

Researchers vouch for domestic water harvesting

By Ruth Keah I

A water harvesting dam on display at a recent open day at Kalro Kabete. Experts want ordinary citizens to take up water harvesting urgently to help fight changes brought about by climate change. Photo Credit: Aghan Daniel

The Kenya Agricultural Research Organization (KALRO) Kabete occupies approximately 25 hectare of land with an altitude of 1740m above sea-level. The annual mean rainfall and temperature are about 980 mm and 23°C, respectively. It is located approximately 13 kilometres from Nairobi city.

On the right hand side, just a few metres after entering the main gate, you come across a one-acre farm. It was the main attraction for people who visited the organization open week exhibition.

This is due to its flourishing and healthy green looking crops notwithstanding it being a dry season. The organization has been using rain water harvesting technology to do farming in the one hectare land.

Dr Esther Gikonyo is the Centre director at KALRO Kabete. She is a soil and plant nutrition specialist. She said that at this time when climate change is being experienced globally, water harvesting technology is very important in ensuring that farmers embrace it to do farming so that they can get enough yields.

Dr Gikonyo said as an organization, they ploughed the one hectare land in January and February and used the harvested water for irrigation.

Dr Esther Gikonyo, Centre Director KALRO Kabete, fields questions from journalists recently.Photo Credit: Aghan Daniel

“We started ploughing in the month of January when it was very dry. But thanks to our harvested water, we used it to do irrigation and now these are the fruits of our labour,” she told a section of MESHA members.

“If the community embraces water harvesting technology and do irrigation using the water, then every family will be food independent,” she added.

Dr Gikonyo advised farmers to develop the habit of harvesting rainwater because rain patterns have become unpredictable. She also noted that water harvesting come in handy due to climate change effects which have been causing insufficient rains and environmental damages.

She observed that the above scenario has seen many farmers get little or no harvest at all hence causing food scarcity and famine in some parts of the country.

Water Harvesting

Water harvesting, experts say involves collection and storage of rain water with the help of artificially designed systems, which run off natural or man-made catchment areas such as rooftop, compounds, hill slopes and others.

Francis Karanja is the irrigation engineer at KALRO. He says water harvesting technology is simple and every farmer can afford it noting that it is also very easy to use the technology for irrigation. He says at the farm, the rain water is collected from a roof-like surface and redirected to a deep pit or a borehole.

“Some of the equipment that we use include black paper to cover the pool, two water tanks and the solar machine to pump the water into the farm,” he said.

According to Engineer Karanja, the pit can hold up to 4,500 litres of water and can supply water to irrigate the farm for a period of three months.

“The borehole cost us Ksh 250,000 (USD 1,800) and is expected to last for more than ten years,” he said.

Apart from the water harvesting technology, different stakeholders exhibited various technologies for farming such as con garden, vertical bag farming among others.

This was in line with the year’s theme “transformative agricultural technologies, innovations and management practices for food and nutrition security, income and climate resilience.”

Women displays some of the fish harvested in Cages at Mulukoba Beach in Busia County.

How cage fishing technology helps fight HIV in Western Kenya

Women displays some of the fish harvested in Cages at Mulukoba Beach in Busia County.

By Robert Malala, Busia County I 

Western region of Kenya has been one of the main supply of fish to Kenyan market for ages and one of the major sources of income to the residents of counties bordering Lake Victoria.

However, women who are the most participants in the trade of these commodity have found themselves in a trap of exchanging their bodies sexually with the fishermen so as to get the business going on, popularly known as Fish for sex ‘jaboya’.

This situation has been feared to be a major contributor to the spread of HIV/AIDS that has seen the region leading in the national HIV/AIDS prevalence.

“HIV/AIDS began many years ago and it is rampant in this area because of a practice we call jaboya,” revealed Mrs Judith Abong’o, Rangwe sub-county HIV/AIDS Control Coordinator, Homa Bay County, western Kenya.

“We have fishermen who demand for sex from women who want to purchase fish from them, she added.

According to 2022 HIV/AIDS prevalence national statistics released by the National AID and STI Control program NASCOP, Western Counties Bordering Lake Victoria took the first five position on the list with Homabay having 19.6 percent, Kisumu 17.5, Siaya 15.3, Migori 13.3 and Busia 7.7 consecutively.

These figures surpassed the national percentage in the prevalence which is at 4.8 percent with women leading by 5.2 percent compared to men who are at 4.5 percent.

However, the introduction of fish cage farming technology in the lake region counties might bring this threat to an end. 

Other than this technology bringing a solution towards fish for sex in the region it has broken the tradition of fishing being an activity only for men, and brought women to the forefront in the industry.

Traditional fishing was too heavy duty for women, and there were lots of risks including attacks from dangerous aquatic creatures, and fear of being arrested and tortured by the Ugandan Defense Force officers that disadvantaged the women. 

Kisumu County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of Agriculture, Irrigation and Fisheries department Kenneth Anyango, termed the fish cage idea as a reliable gender-inclusive option for the economic income to residents. 

‘’In Kisumu county, twenty percent of women have gone to fish caging. The old lake fishing method was biased against women and mostly done by men but as long as you have capital, you can easily set up your cage,” said Anyango.

Francesca Odhiambo, a fish trader at Dunga beach in Kisumu County for the last twenty years and secretary of Chiela Smart Women Group, confidently testifies how they got into fish cage farming as a group, a move that has totally changed their lives economically.

Women feeding fish in the cages in Lake at Dunga Beach, Kisumu County

“Definitely, there is a significant change in our income, like now we have our own cage and we are sure of getting any quantity of fish that our clients may require,” said Odhiambo.

“I am happy that this idea has given us opportunity to have our own fish, instead of getting involved in fish for sex activities that are common around this beach,” she added.

Fish cage technology was introduced in 2013 as a pilot project at Dunga Beach in Kisumu County by Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI) and Egerton University.

Later, the County government of Kisumu adopted the practice before it spread to other lake region counties.

A vibrant Kowil Women Group that consists of twenty members has also invested in this new technology.  The group is located at Nyenye Got Agulu Beach on the shores of Lake Victoria, about ninety five kilometres away from Dunga, in Bondo sub-county in Siaya County.

“We began fish cage farming in 2018 and the difference is that you are sure of the quantity of fish at hand and an estimate of the money you will get after harvesting,” said Evelyne Akello, one of the members of Kowil Women Group.

According to the acting director of fisheries in the county government of Siaya, Emman Otieno, women are naturally more committed than men in carrying out tasks.

Otieno reiterated that this is an added advantage to women because it enables them receive funding from the government and other financial institutions to expand their business, and to that effect they have a better chance of doing well in fish cage farming.

“This year the government of Siaya budgeted for substantial amount of money to assist farmers procure feeds because this is the main problem when it comes to aquaculture,” said Otieno.

In Busia County the national government through the Ministry of Mining and Blue Economy is constructing a modern fish landing centre at Mulukoba Beach in Budalang’I Sub-county to a tune of Ksh 124 million Kenya shillings (USD 891,000) that will help in value addition.

Mulukoba Beach has about 150 cages of which 30 percent of the owners are women who are mostly in self-help groups.

62 years old Pascalia Were is one the fish cage farmers at Mulukoba beach, who adopted this new idea a year ago under the umbrella of Mulukoba Women Fish Mongers.

According to her, the technology has numerous advantages compared to traditional fishing methods.

“This technology has made our work easier, we don’t need to waste time chasing for fishermen and other engagements to obtain fish but instead we just harvest and sell,” explained Pascalia were.

Through these aquaculture technology, it is obvious that women can play a major role in diversification of fishing especially during this tough times of climate change if introduced to modern innovations.