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Community Savings for Sustainable Food Systems

Community savings is the base-rock of pastoral community food systems

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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Agency for Cross Border Pastoralists Development (APaD)

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Great Vision Research Consultancy (GVRC) Centre for Community Resilience Building (CECOREB) APaD has collaborative working relationships with both county and national government structures in areas where we work. In implementation of this project, the organization will work closely with line ministries/department to provide technical support when need arises.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Lodwar Town

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Turkana County

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Agency for Pastoralists Development (APaD) is a local NGO located in the implementation area of Turkana County, northwestern Kenya. The organization, formed in 2002, focuses on the economic, environmental, political and social issues impacting pastoralist communities of Turkana County and the cross-border regions of South Sudan and Uganda. Specifically, addresses continued marginalization of pastoral communities through inadequate and lack of physical infrastructure, lack of access to social and health services, low levels of participation in public policy and development, continuous insecurity, high levels of illiteracy, exploitation of natural resources and depletion of livelihoods.

It’s main thrust is securing rights of the poor and marginalized, good governance, sustainable livelihood development through promoting people’s participation at all levels of society, accountability, capacity development and access to resources. Special emphasis is given on women’s participation and in building the marginalized people’s capacity towards disaster risk reduction and climate resilience. Networking at various levels and policy advocacy are the important areas of APaD’s programme implementation approach. The recent food security programe saw:

  • Increased production capacity of Napak and Napeikar farmers by developing modern irrigation infrastructure leading to better crop husbandry.
  • Increased annual production of farmers within the Napak and Napeikar schemes.
  • Training of farmers on functional literacy, bookkeeping, monitoring and assessment
  • Strengthened capacity of APaD board, human resources through trainings and infrastructural development.
  • Capacity building of farmers on production, harvesting and storage and construction of storage facility at Napeikar.
  • Establishment and registration of farmers’ cooperative society in Napak and Napeikar to providing a capital pool for expansion of the farmers’ productivity and a marketing platform for their produce.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Turkana , numbering 926,976  people of the total 47,564 00 country population as per the latest 2019 census; are nomadic pastoralists who live in the desert regions of northwestern Kenya,  covering a total area of  77,000 Km². It borders West Pokot and Baringo Counties to the south, Samburu County to the South East, and Marsabit County to the East. Internationally it borders South Sudan to the north, Uganda to the west and Ethiopia to the northeast. The County shares Lake Turkana with Marsabit County

The community lives exclusively off the products of their livestock - milk, meat, blood and skins. The inventory of goods acquired with money from the sale of livestock is small, consisting primarily of maize meal, sugar, tobacco, tea leaves, rubber tire sandals, and cloth.

The community live in small households consisting of a man, his wives, their children and possibly some dependent women. This social unit is referred to as an awi. Household size varies considerably according to wealth, but averages about 20-25 people. All livestock are "owned" by the male head of the household, but within the awi they are allocated to women. The number of animals allocated depends upon a woman's status within the family and the number of children which must be fed. Women milk those animals which are allocated to them; the offspring of these livestock will be the basis of their sons' future herds.

Decisions relating to livestock management rest with the household head, or with the herd manager if the herd is separate from the awi. This allows each household head to make decisions based on who can work, herd size, social obligations, and perceptions of the environment and proper herd management.

As food diminishes with the onset of the dry season, the Turkana may divide their animals into different herds. Thus a man may have milking and non-milking herds of camels, cattle, and sheep and goats - sheep and goats are herded together.

The climate of the area is classified as arid to semi-arid with high ambient temperatures and a two to three month "rainy season." Although nomadic way of life buffer the effects of seasonal and annual variation in food availability, they cannot guarantee survival through a drastic, sustained climatic shift such as the  recent drought

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Prolonged drought in recent years have left a trail of destruction in Turkana County. It has beenf a decade of thirst, hunger, malnutrition, loss of the community's  only source of livelihood — livestock — and untold human suffering resulting from prolonged seasons of famine.

Of worth note is that, the food security challenges are  not just happening in isolation, but  coinciding with and demonstrably, more pronounced in settings that are also affected by violent conflict, political instability, and economic strife. Interestingly, state and non-state state actors have been involved in addressing the perennial food crisis in the area however  most of the  initiatives have typically been discrete and reactive, without addressing particular needs and concerns of vulnerable pastoral communities. The danger is that such initiatives have turned out to be costly, with far reaching negative unintended consequences of a “wait for humanitarian assistance” attitude.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

The above challenges underscore the need for a comprehensive and transformative food security agenda that goes beyond mere humanitarian assistance, to promote sustainable food systems in the area. APaD experience within the area has demonstrated that community savings is a key resilience building measure to sectors prone to climate shocks and stresses. It is hoped that such an initiative will provide local communities with better opportunities to benefit from informal and formal financial services while giving them the ability to Anticipate, Absorb, Reshape from the effects of climate-change related shocks and stresses in a manner that better protects their pastoral livelihoods, reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates sustainable development. The project will be based on the following inter-related components:

Participator vulnerability assessments will be conducted as, as an integral component that will inform the development of compelling, context specific valuable data that will better illustrate the magnitude of food insecurity in the area

Community mobilization and capacity development for improved bottom-up approaches including advocacy, linking knowledge and social learning to act and organize collectively in saving for sustainable food systems, that will allow communities to not only cope, but also support their efforts to become social actors and take command of their own food development path while giving special consideration to gender issues and vulnerable groups such as women.

Initiation of self-sustaining community savings schemes for sustainable food systems. The schemes will be built on the traditional Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) concept, commonly known as Chamaa- Self managed savings groups that do not receive external funding and which provide members a safe place to save their money, access loans and obtain emergency insurance.

Support community early warning mechanisms by equipping members of the savings group with the necessary climate information services and tools to monitor and mitigate against climate extremes and climate-induced disasters, and alert communities of the impeding danger.

 Establish and promote community working groups, networks, associations, and interest groups to create awareness and disseminate the new thinking of community savings for sustainable food systems

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

The establishment of community savings group and developing a community savings fund will ensure continuity of the results after the project.

The distinctive characteristic of working with groups will lead to enhanced community social capital; where community members gain more self-confidence and a greater feeling of solidarity in addressing food security and other climate change related challenges in a more unified and pro-active way.

The project embodies holistic, broad based and participatory approaches that will promote ownership and engender action by all, and for all; for now and for future generations that is in line with the sustainble development goals (SDGs). Moreover, the project has immense potential in the actualization of the desired aspirations and commitments contained in the numerous action plans, policies and programs at national and international levels such as the 2015 Paris Agreement, Africa Climate Business Plan and Kenya's National development blue print; vision 2030.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Twitter

1 comment

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Photo of Archiebold Manasseh

You have bought the vivid picture of how life in the semi and arid are, nice project all the best!