VDOs provide community members with a forum and tools to discuss, chart and implement a plan for the future of their village. Although most villages have existing structures for making decisions, they are often not recognised by outsiders as formal organisations with the ability to interact with government. This lack of voice, coupled with the structure of government decision making, which gives priority to interests at the divisional rather than community level, means that individual villages are often unable to voice concerns about their development.
CRSP provides VDOs with training on governance, organisational development, participatory monitoring and evaluation, and record keeping. Prepared with these skills, VDOs are then assisted to register as formal organisations with the government. Since 1997, CRSP has facilitated the establishment of 192 VDOs.
CRSP also links together VDOs from the same districts, to form Supra Organisations, which collaborate and interact with government officials beyond the divisional level. These Supra Organisations are able to demonstrate competency in management, group leadership and project organisation. A key result of the Social Organising process is the institutionalisation of a community based planning process in which villages prepare community development plans which they are then able to forward to government departments or other organisations for planning and funding support.
The programme’s enterprise activities include four main components: bee-keeping; poultry production; goat rearing; and vocational training. Each component engages poor households in small-scale enterprises intended to generate income and improve livelihoods. The process begins when communities identify what resources they feel they possess, the start-up investment that would be required for a small enterprise and the hours of labour that would be required to run the enterprise. They then determine which, if any, enterprise they would want to engage in.
In some of the villages in CRSP’s programme area, there is good potential for bee-keeping. CRSP supports these enterprises by training para-professionals who train community members on bee-keeping and honey production, and assist with the management and harvesting of hives. CRSP also carries out market assessments and has brokered contracts that have guaranteed villages a competitive market for their honey for a number of years.
Poultry and Goat Meat
CRSP promotes the rearing of indigenous free-range poultry as an income generating activity. As a result, 60 VDOs have identified their communities as good candidates for poultry enterprises. To ensure the success of these enterprises, CRSP trains Community Animal First Aiders (CAFAs) to support communities in the care of their poultry. CAFAs teach community members how to control diseases common to poultry, how to build pens and how to create an environment that promotes reproduction. CAFAs also work with communities that have identified goat rearing as a profitable enterprise. They encourage the use of Galla goats, a breed that is bigger and survives better in the area’s arid climate.
To diversify enterprise activities and increase employment opportunities, CRSP supports vocational training for youth. Youth have been trained in areas such as shoe making, automobile mechanics, barber, carpentry, dress making, electronics, food production, hair dressing, mobile phone repair, patient care and first aid, screen printing and tailoring. CRSP encourages youth who have received training to start up their own enterprises and links them with microfinance institutions and mentors for support.
Sombeza Water and Sanitation Improvement Project (SWASIP)
The goal of the Sombeza Water and Sanitation Improvement Project is to improve the health status and living conditions of rural populations, especially women, children and the poor in the arid and semi-arid areas of Kinango, Kaloleni and Kilifi districts in Coast Province. SWASIP expands upon CRSP’s interventions in the water sector by focusing on water for domestic and productive use as well as the introduction of a sanitation component, both in terms of infrastructure for improved sanitation and health and hygiene promotion. The environmental health component of SWASIP was introduced in collaboration with the Community Health Department (CHD), a project of the Aga Khan Health Services which builds the capacity of health systems in Kenya. SWASIP’s goals include designing, installing and ensuring appropriate use of sustainable infrastructure for domestic water use and sanitation, including small farm reservoirs, rock catchment, roof water harvesting tanks and ventilated improved pit "V.I.P" latrines. SWASIP also enhances community capacity to manage and utilise water resources and assists with the mobilisation, training and enabling of local organisations in 83 villages to administer, operate and maintain water supply and sanitation infrastructure. Through the Community Led Total Sanitation initiative, SWASIP is encouraging positive changes in hygiene behaviour in communities and schools. This initiative helps communities to identify and change unhealthy sanitation behaviour, specifically open defecation, and leads them to construct and use latrines from locally available materials.
Early Childhood Development
In 2007, CRSP realised that in order to improve peoples’ overall livelihoods, in a sustainable and continuous manner, early childhood education and development could not be left out of its programming. As a result, it has partnered with another Aga Khan Foundation project, Educational for Marginalised Children in Kenya (EMACK), which was already working in the same districts. Together with EMACK, CRSP supports early childhood development projects which focus on improving the infrastructure, quality of curriculum, teaching methodologies, learning environments, access to nutrition and basic healthcare, as well as community’s management of pre-primary schools. The support and guidance that CRSP and EMACK offer local pre-schools to accomplish these improvements is centred upon the Whole School Approach, a development model which believes that quality education depends upon community engagement and ownership.
Developing Energy Enterprises Project (DEEP)
DEEP is an emerging CRSP sector targeting individuals and groups who have the potential to start up an energy project or improve an existing one. To support individuals and business groups, CRSP provides training on record keeping, financial management, creating business plans, and fosters forward and backward linkages with service providers.
Community Knowledge and Resource Centres
CRSP has set up four notice boards or Community Resource Centres to disseminate information among the community. To further aggregate this information, CRSP is currently implementing a Community Knowledge Centre in Mariakani. The centre will have 15 computers to be used by farmers to access market prices and devolved funding, by youth for computer skills training and by community members to access CRSP documentation.
CRSP encourages the diversification of drought tolerant crops. These are promoted at the household and group level. Through field farm schools, farmers are trained on how to prepare the land, plant the crops, carry out weeding, pest and diseases control and harvesting and storage. CRSP also assists in vegetable production through kitchen gardens located at the household level and at small farm reservoir water sites. The main aim is to produce food for household consumption with surplus vegetables sold in markets.