Report from Kenya
ARC AID AND TRADE WIND REPORT FROM A VISIT TO KENYA AND ARO APRIL 2015
This was not an official visit, as I accompanied my Commander-in-Chief on a private visit. However, we utilized the time well and had extensive meetings with all our partners since we spend most of our time at ARO DC. In addition we were invited to various occasions and events. Finally we also had useful and encouraging meetings with the management of both ARC Kenya, KCA, Green bank, the child Care program, ARO Fablab and ARO DC.
Purpose of mission
The purposes varied with the programs:
Child Care program: Map their need regarding the skill-for-life education program and tool/equipment/books in regard to Sirdal’s wish to support and upgrade this program.
ARO Fablab: Agree on frames, budgets and goals regarding the restarting of the program.
KCA: Assess progress and discuss the next steps: introduction of solar panels and solar cooker
Green Bank: Assess the progress and spirit of the program.
ARC Kenya/General: How to improve self-reliance for ARC Kenya. Assess which feasible IGA exist.
The mission met our hopes and expectations. Most programs are doing fine. Some even surpased our highest hopes. The various program managements stated that the degree of self-reliant and independency now exceeded the foreign support and investments. The main challenge is the Child Care program which by its nature may prove difficult to make self-reliant from (Norwegian) support.
However, a higher number of visitors and tourists may substantially improve income. Also efficient tree planting programs are promising IGA and can create useful income in a longer perspective.
Child care program/CCP
The program is as well functioning and as important as ever. There is a growing number of “CCP-leavers” who are joining the adult life. Some has even made it to Universities and High Schools. Some also has made it a good habit of returning to ARO and help the program during their vacations.
In general most children improve their school performance and do better in life.
There is an urgent need for upgrading and extending the useful activities called “SKILL FOR LIFE”.
The Skill-for-life program is an integrated educational part of the CCP. Its main purpose is to develop practical skills in order to master the daily life. The ordinary school curriculum offer very little practical approaches to the daily life and challenges.
At ARO, the tailoring workshop, the carpentry and practical activities around ARO, like the poultry and the tree program, offer rare and important training ground for the orphans. Also the computer program and KCA offer training and practical education to the children. However, the program lost maybe the most important training ground when ARO Fablab was temporarily closed in 2014.
We were encouraged when we had a closer look at the lab during our stay and found orphans flocking to the fablab eager to pick up their technical training.
The Child Care Program now uses the old dining hall and the abila for their meals
The ARO Fablab
Since the former manager of the ARO Fablab mismanaged the lab and went away with valuable equipment, his assistant tried to run the project. When he also failed, and the laser cutter was broken in the same period, the lab was temporarily closed in October 2014.
This also has had a negative impact on the KCA who has been left without a partner to mend and repair broken solar lamps, as well as having left the Child Care “skill-for-life program” unattended regarding technical insight.
Also both computer training and the general purposes of the lab have suffered. Most obvious the ongoing activities regarding research related to Solar cookers has not been able to pick up.
On this sad background, it was encouraging to meet with the ARC Kenya chairperson and manager who both wanted to give high priority to a fresh start of the ARO Fablab.
We also had separate meetings on the ground with Martin Oloo who will head the reopening of the Lab and his potential assistant. They both showed skills, enthusiasm and ability to co-operate with partners regarding a fresh start. If their starting up program and budgets are approved, we hope that the ARO Fablab will pick up its activities in July/August.
Aro Fablab and KCA cooperate in testing a solar cooker. The log caught fire after 5 seconds.
The Kenya Change Agents continue to make progress. They have sent interesting reports of late, and we do not find it necessary to elaborate much about this important and successful program.
During our stay KCA made a new sales record: 53 lamps and 12 Fosera systems sold in one day.
They opened a new branch in Kogelo with a computer training program, and recently opened cooperation with the Nation media group. Also the management of the Ubbink solar cell factory visited KCA early June to boost their cooperation with KCA.
All in all, the priority and support given to KCA over the last 3 years, in particular from Sirdal, has proved a success. The circular fund has been steadily growing, the sales are stable and the numbers of new solar/green products to promoted are many. If the good work continues, we assume that KCA will be financial independent in less than a year.
KCA’s new office at Kogelo. A happy solar owner. Counting the result of a successful sales day.
The MC program continues to grow and eradicate poverty at an impressive rate. During our stay the GB annual assembly collected around 800 members. These days the program accommodates around 1700 members. We estimate the membership to be around 2200 by the end of the year. The finances are sound and the bank has now become a partner of the CO-OP bank. The guest of honor called Green Bank the most successful project in Siaya district.
There is a useful mutual cooperation and benefits between all ARO programs, and Green Bank is an engine in the activity together with KCA.
Green Bank General assembly at ARO. Never has so many people joined ARO before at one time.
Self-reliance and investments in income generating activities/IGA
The number of visitors is low between May and September. Even so ARO was busy with local meetings and activities during our stay. Most were related to meetings with the Green Bank.
Guests and visitors may prove the most important IGA, Income Generating Activity for ARC Kenya. The accommodation capacity is high. An increase of visitors who stay longer at ARO will enable AK to cover ever more of their activities and also to create more. It is a priority task for all friends and supporters of ARO and all the programs accommodated there, to promote the center as a goal for visitors and tourists.
The Sira-Kvina brochure is therefor of importance and should promote more visitors to travel to ARO.
Nice and nutritious food in friendly environment.
Next to an increase in ARO visitors, planting of trees seem to be the most useful IGA. The best trees planted this year may be chopped in 4-5 years and will pay around Ksh 10 000. If we imagine investments in planting and preserving around 1000 trees annually, AK may harvest up to ksh 1000 000 annually as from 2020. This is more than any donation these days.
It seems fool hearted NOT to pick up this initiative, which also is environmental proof and correct.
The reason for the high prices is a combination of lack of trees and a growing construction sector.
In general ARO looked good – and more active than earlier..
There are daily meetings with the various Green Bank groups, a new poultry has been put up and is run by the CCP and the center looked tidy and smart. All accommodation apartments had got new ceiling boards two Fruit- and Jam factories has been established in Siaya district, offering new and interesting opportunities for the local farmers.
We recommend that further support from North partners is given along Income Generating Activity (IGA) lines, in particular when environmental aspects, children and education also is promoted. In practical terms, we recommend tree planting, technical practical training/education, promotion of solar products, and scholarship for higher practical studies.
Kjellan Spinnangr, June 2015