Update from Kenya - Kalithera Workshop

We have received this update from Peter Gitonga in Kenya on the Kalithera workshop supported by our friends at Meru Rotary Club

       Update on Permaculture in Meru Kenya January - 2024

The long rains which came in October  2023 were intense, unfortunately flooding many areas and washing away soil and seeds. After several failed rains and drought this complete reversal was unexpected and unfortunate. Despite the excess rainfall it does appear  that the community in general will have a much better crop than in the drought years, and so it seems despite the challenges of the rain the outcome will be better than drought. There have been delays to Permaculture 2 and 3 due in part to the excessive  rains, but also in part because Peter Gitonga, the Friends of Kianjai community worker who was supporting delivery of these projects was shot in a robbery mid 2023 and is only recently back to work. Concluding these activities swiftly is a priority for him.
Plan: For Mituntu Polytechnic to develop their 15 acre site as a permaculture demonstration farm, to include orchard, pig, diary and chicken units.
Progress: Pig unit is installed  with the first group of pigs having produced a successful litter. The orchard is established and has benefited from the recent rains as the area where they are planted is protected by swales ( long trenches) which were part of the permaculture design. The cow shed and the chicken coop are also completed. The animals for both will be purchased when the Poly students return on Jan 10th. There is a very good grass harvest for the cows which will be good initial feed.The poly manager and the farm caretaker are working well together and expecting a good harvest from the farm.
 With the County government drilling a borehole at the polytechnic in summer 2023, and with the plan to solarise  this as part of the Water is Life project, the outcome for the polytechnic is looking very positive. The Board of Governors and the staff are very enthusiastic. Student enrolment in Jan 24 is higher than previous years which reflects growing community confidence in the institution. 
Plan: To install 8 water tanks and drip irrigation systems into school farms to maximise the schools potential to feed the children, and to demonstrate best practice farming methods to the wider school community.
Progress: All tanks are installed and 5 drip installations are in place. These schools have reported good results from having access to the water even in this season with unusual rainfall. Many have used the drip system for early planting ahead of the rainfall which has helped reduce pests, and also enabled them to market produce at a good price when little was in the market place. 
Unfortunately the rains had started before the remaining 3 drip systems were installed. These are scheduled after the rains stop which should be imminent.
Plan: To work with Mituntu Polytechnic and the County Agricultural Dept to support the schools and develop a broader based support network for the schools based on techniques developed by SCOPE.  Plus seedlings for 8 schools.
Progress: Activities under this grant are complete. There is however continued support from the County Agricultural office who make 6 visits a year to each school farm working with the school to set targets for the farm and supporting the farm work with their expertise.  Building relationships between the school farms and the wider community is ongoing, and is supported by other activities one being the proposed Water is Life solarisation project.


Over the last 3 to 4 years Lindum Rotary has been involved in the Meru area of Kenya. It is a tribute to the Rotarians in Meru and the charity Friends of Kianjai Kenya that so much has been achieved at a time of Covid 19, inflation and drought. Alongside Grantham Kesteven Rotary Club, an investment in the order of £152000 (say$180,000) is being made, across 12 projects. Lindum Rotary contribution amounts to over £41,000, found by the fund raising of Rotarian Shanti Shah, personal donations and club fund raising.
Currently there are four projects being implemented, with another in planning. These are:        


Finance: Total £55,000 – incl. Lindum’s £14,000
Achieved: Two tailoring workshops and a retail outlet
To complete: Supporting community health services
Completion Date: November 2023
Permaculture blends western agriculture with traditional practice.
Finance: Total £9000 (Lindum £1380, Other Clubs £4620, District Grants £3000)
Plan: Provision for Mituntu Polytechnic to develop their 15 acre site as a permaculture demonstration farm, to include an orchard, and pig, dairy and chicken units.
To complete: Chicken coop, and purchase dairy cattle
Completion Date: autumn 2023

Finance: Total £5488 (Lindum £3288, RC Northampton Becket £200, District Grant £2000)
Plan: 8 water tanks and 8 drip irrigation systems in schools. Including training of teachers, Polytechnic students and the involvement of the wider community.
To complete: 3 school drip systems are still to complete.
Completion Date: These will be installed by mid September 2023. All other aspects of the grant funding are complete.
Finance: Total £5000 (Lindum £4000, FKK £1000)
Plan: FKK working with Mituntu Polytechnic and the County Agricultural Dept to support the school farms using techniques developed by Scope Kenya  for permaculture farm development in 14 schools, plus seedlings for 8 schools. 
To complete: Activities under this grant are complete (please note that training beyond the remit of the grant will be ongoing).
Completion Date: Complete
This is a planned Rotary global grant project. Grantham Kesteven Rotary will lead as the International Partner. The Rotary Club of Laikipia Highlanders is considering the request to be the Host Partner and will advise by mid September.
Finance: Total £31,000 (Lindum £3550, Other Clubs £4500, District Grant £12750, World Fund £10,200)
Scope:  Solarising 4 existing boreholes ; connecting piping to schools to enable access for sanitation and to support agriculture.
There is considerable political interest in Meru, with a borehole already dug funded by the local authority.

Mike Robinson
5 September 2023 

Global Grant  to Solarise Boreholes updated September 2023

Objective of the project: -

This project will be delivered in the rural community of Tigania West, Meru County Kenya. 210 kms north of Nairobi, approx. 20 kms north of the equator. The need for water in this community was highlighted by Rotarians in Districts 9212 and 1070,and has resulted in this proposal.
The objective of this project is to bring water to 4 primary schools, 1 boarding Vocational Training Centre, and a medical centre for special needs children, plus 4 village communities, by maximising the benefit of boreholes already in the ground. This water will support 5 permaculture farms based at the above schools. Rotary and cooperating partner Friends of Kianjai Kenya (FKK) have been supporting development of these farms and 12 others also based at schools since 2018.

Background: -

Cooperating Partner, FKK, is chaired by Rotarian Caroline Newton. FKK have been working with this community since 2011.  Due to changing weather patterns this community has faced recurring drought which has resulted in widespread famine. Working across an area of approx. 450 sq kms FKK have worked with Rotary to install 17 irrigated school farms and to train the community in permaculture farming methods. Over the last five years the school communities have been working to develop their farms to feed the children lunch, often the child’s only meal of the day. Due to the increasing need it has become apparent that to maximise the benefit of the farms some schools do require more water than is currently being harvested. On a visit to Meru in February 2023 it was found that 4 schools were sited very close to bore holes, but because of the cost of electricity the borehole water was not available to them. 
Solar technology to pump borehole water is well developed in Kenya, and there are reputable suppliers with a good track record of delivery. The cost of supply with solar pumps is zero, parts do come with warranties.

Project Details: -

The venues where we are proposing to solarise existing electric bore holes are as follows:-
1.Mituntu Girls Boarding School Borehole. 

 Mituntu Primary school has no piped water, there are 370 children at the school. Water is harvested from the roofs for farming, and they buy in water from tankers for sanitation. It is extremely challenging to operate a primary school where there is no water supply, in addition the school farm would benefit greatly from access to a secondary source of water. The land available for farming at the school is significant, far greater than what can be supported by the water harvesting system. Next door to the primary school there is a boarding school with an electric pump bore hole.
 This picture shows the bore hole sitting on Mituntu Girls Boarding School land. The large tree on the left is in the Primary School compound. In February 2023 the FKK team approached the Head Teacher of the Boarding school , to see if she could share her water with the primary school. Martha advised that due to the failed harvests many girls were unable to pay school fees, but rather than send them back to the village she had decided to keep them in school and do the best she can to feed and educate them. She showed records that she has a current outstanding fee balance of 5 million ksh ( £33,000). Her current monthly electricity bill is 50,000 ksh (£333), she said that sadly because her cashflow is so tight she is unable to share the water with a community who are unable to pay. If the bore hole could be solarised the water from it could be shared to the local primary school and to the local community. The Head Teacher felt that this would be a definite win:win for them and the community, she said she felt mean not being able to share the water but she simply couldn’t afford it.  
The exact cost of solarising an existing bore hole depends on the depth of the hole and the  electric pump already in place. Information was taken on the Mituntu Boarding school pump and a quote obtained from reputable suppliers Davies and Shirtliff, coming to 1,153,353 ksh ( £7954). The payback time working on the boarding school monthly electricity bill is 23 months, in addition there would be considerable benefit to the Primary school ( 360 students), the output achievable from the farm, plus available water to the local community. We are proposing that we include Mituntu Boarding in the project to solarise their existing pump with funds allowed to pipe the water to Mituntu Primary school and the local community.  

2.Kitheo Primary and the Rehema Centre. 
Kitheo is a village on higher ground, traditionally an area that has not suffered from water shortage, but due to the changing weather patterns previously reliable water sources are drying up. FKK visited Kitheo school where Rotary have installed a water harvesting system, this was the only water available to the school. They had installed a pipe to the village community electric bore hole for sanitation purposes but this had broken down some months back, and there were no funds to repair it. The local community population approx. 2000, has been without water for months. In addition the primary school has needed to buy water from a tanker which has seriously depleted their limited funds.  
The Rehema Centre where FKK are operating a Special Needs Early intervention program is a short distance from the community bore hole. Some years back we a water connection was installed from the river to the centre, but this connection is no longer reliable and water is not guaranteed. Not only does Rehema require water for sanitation, but it also requires water for farming. There is a good size farm there with the potential to produce significant output if managed well and with water. A solarised pump would provide water to the Rehema Centre, the local primary school ( 325 students) and the local community. 
We are proposing that we include Kitheo in the water project and solarise their existing borehole. As the water table is significantly higher in this location the cost has been quoted by Davies and Shirtliff at 255,954 ksh   ( x 170  £1505).
NB We are awaiting additional costs for piping and a storage tank
3.Kunene Special School and Kunene Primary. 
Kunene Special School is the only boarding school for special needs children in Tigania West. It is a boarding facility for 105 children. 
Rotary installed a water harvesting system as part of a Global Grant and the school have made excellent use of it, growing a variety of crops to feed the children. The 75,000L system however is not sufficient for a boarding school. They have no access to piped water and are buying in water. The picture shows teacher and special needs children harvesting crops from the existing water harvesting system. There is more land available and with bore hole water the farm can produce significantly more. In addition, the water would make a huge difference to sanitation. Kunene primary which is next to the Special School also has no water and they have to buy it in, seriously depleting their funds. 
A short distance away , at the top of a small incline is Kunune MCK church, they have an electric bore hole, the water from which is only available to the church. The church have been approached and they have agreed that if Rotary solarise the pump they would extend the water to the local primary school ( pop 420) and to the Special School ( pop 105) and to the local community ( pop 500). An MOU would be sought from the MCK church to reflect this agreement.
Davis and Shirtlif have quoted on the solarisation of the bore hole and the piping connections@ 1,485,089 ksh       ( x @170    £8735)

To ensure that the vision for the permaculture farm did not die, management from the VTC Board of Governors visited Tigania West MP Dr John Mutunga in early March 23. They outlined that there is potential Rotary funding to solarise existing boreholes. They requested that the MP  drill a borehole at Mituntu Polytechnic, with Rotary to provide funds to solarise this pump and 3 more. Dr Mutunga was in agreement with this proposal and in early June with support from the Meru Governor a bore hole was drilled and water struck at 130m. This water has been capped off. A quote has been obtained to install a pump and solar panels. This borehole has a higher cost as no pump is currently installed.

Proposal:    Rotary to install a pump and to solarise it. 2,423,401 ksh ( @170 £14255)
Project Costs broken down by borehole site 
Kunene    1,485,089
Mituntu Sec               1,153,353
Mituntu Poly                2,423.401
Kitheo             255954         ( plus piping and tank)
Total                             5,317,797                    at 170 ksh to £        £31,281   
NB… We are currently seeking advice from TRF on what exchange rate to use. 
Final costings for Kitheo will be available by mid September. 


Following successful completion of electrical completion on Monday, yesterday Rotary club of Meru delivered 15 straight sewing machines, 2 button hole sewing machines and 2 over lock sewing machines and they were all assembled and tested by two technicians from Nairobi by 9:30 pm last night. This project is slowly coming together and we hope to realize the objective of empowering the ladies that have patiently walked with us on this journey soon by the Grace of God. I sincerely continue to most sincerely thank you for making this initiative a reality. And by the way it was interesting to learn from these technicians that a ceiling is not need in a tailoring workshop to ease challenges with emissions/fumes/dust/ support in aeration from the clothes that are being worked on by the tailors. 

Education project:

I also had an opportunity to visit Lairangi day & Mituntu day to delivery uniform and it is very inspiring to note the change that this uniform fund contributes to the beneficiary students. At Mituntu day the principal promised to buy a pair of shoes to the Brenda who is currently being hosted by a school neighbour while at Lairangi John informed  me that the shirt the beneficiary boy student has been wearing is part of the previous cloths donation that we gave the school during Caroline & Sally’s visit back in 2020.

Progress From Lairangi Community Water pans

I also had the opportunity to visit Charles who was part of the 5 water pans that FKK and Rotary Invicta originally supported Lairangi community with on my way back from Lairangi day and it was so encouraging to note our objective of contributing towards food security and sustainability still lives on as expressed through the above pictures with an elated Charles telling that he has previously harvested onions and beans while his fruit trees like avocado and mangoes were doing very well.

John is also working to plant bananas with water from the borehole that’s now fully operational and I networked him with one of my friends at Nkubu to help him with banana suckers while Boniface from the County Agric Dept, will continue to guide him along the process.

£1.000 given for emergency food supplies 

Dear Steve, Mike and Simon
I wanted to share with you that the £1000 your club sent, together with a very
generous personal donation from one of your members has been sent to Kenya and
the food has been distributed. You will see some pictures above, and below is an
email I received from Nkanata last week, since then as you will see above the food
has been bought and distributed. The timing was extremely helpful. I hadn’t realised
that the schools were breaking up for their long summer holiday now. These children
were only being fed at school via the feeding program we operate there. They would
have been going home to households who had absolutely nothing to feed them. Very
thankfully your kind donation has meant that they will have food in the house for some
of this time which is a huge blessing. Please pass on our huge thanks to all your club
Good morning Caroline. Hope you had a good weekend. On Saturday we shared the
good news of your food donation to Susan ,Ntere, and Raibuni. The three are the
representatives of SNE teachers in the district. They suggested we buy maize and
pease instead of beans which are too expensive. Maize is selling at 85 per kg. Pease
are selling at 130/kg compared with beans @ 180. We agreed on Pease because they
are also a good source of protein. When giving out the food we said we consider the
hard hit families so that each family can at least get 15 to 20 kg of food. The schools
are closing on Friday this week. We expect the families will get their food ratio before
Saturday. Many thanks to you. God bless you all.
Many Kind Regards

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We have received this update from Peter Gitonga in Kenya on the Kalithera workshop supported by our friends at Meru Rotary Club