EQUATOR NOMINATION FOR KUGERIA WOMEN GROUP
1) Contact Information
UNDP Country Office: Nairobi-Kenya
Contact in UNDP: Situma Mwichabe-Africa 2000+Network
Name of the Person being Nominated: Mrs Sophia Machamba(Chairperson)
Kugeria Women Group
C/o Africa 2000 Network
Telephone: C/O 254-020-624475
Fax: C/O 254-020-624493
2) Nominee is best described as a community based organization.
3) Initiative description and Innovations (Provide a description of the initiative, i.e. its purpose,
activities, and outputs. with particular emphasis on innovative and creative approaches to
poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation)
The group was formed by a group of 120 women in response to the water problems that were afflicting
the community. This was a result of a failed self-help initiative by a men’s group in the community to
provide water for the communities. The name “Kugeria” means to try and find a solution. To date, the
group has a membership of 300 women. They group is located in East Mugambaciura sub-location,
Kirinyaga District- Central Kenya that is a semi arid area.
Women previously had to walk 3-4 kms away in search of water. They spent 18 hours a day working,
had no say in community activities, no self confidence in themselves, possessed little education, there
was a high prevalence of water borne diseases, livestock production was low and they lacked training
in dairy management, they lacked tree nurseries to plant trees that would help cope with the effects of
afforestation. A water project then seemed the most focal method of alleviating these problems.
The objectives of the initiative are:
Provision of clean water for domestic and community consumption
Provision of clean water for the livestock
Provision of clean water for families within the location.
The project was launched in1990 as a water project and completed in 1994 with Africa 2000 Network
providing seed capital in 1991. The women dug trenched water pipes thrugh Njukiini Forest (16Kms)
from the water point. Water was now brought closer to the beneficiaries boosting productivity and
bringing services closer to the people. This provided easy access to water for the women and reduced
the amount of time they spent in search of water.
Members contributed to the project and as an offshoot, they initiated a dairy project with the objective of
keeping dairy cattle by zero grazing in place of the local herding which encouraged soil erosion due to
overgrazing and also the fact that they did not produce enough milk for use. Women ran the initiative
4. Poverty Reduction (How has the initiative improved the socio-economic conditions and well
being of the community? If possible, please quantify these conditions.)
Community participation in this initiative has led to success stories. To date, they have accomplished
The project has benefited 300 households through increased food production and income at the
household levels. Living conditions considerably improved. Agricultural activity has been boosted
with the community achieving household food security, raising incomes for over 3000 families by
200%. Subsistence horticultural farming for both consumption and for sale has been established.
Investment in high yield grade cows with high genetic potential for milk production. Improved yields
of subsistence farming for consumption with the surplus being sold and 20% of the proceeds are
ploughed back into the project. They are Improved livestock management by construction of 20
water tanks, 20 zero grazing units for 10 in calf heifers. The horticultural crops generate $1800 per
year per household.
They have a successful water project that is run by women and maintained by them. They have
been able to construct and improve simple irrigation systems, which has led to diversified farming
with the introduction of dairy farming. They have a well-designed water gravity flow system. The
project is focused, well organized and determined in community mobilization.
They have provided water for the community needs as well as for farming and livestock .The
resources generated from the sale of water to the community have enabled the maintaince of the
initiative. This has substantially reduced the workload for women. They have improved their house
structures using stabilized blocks.
A strong management committee that has enabled diversification of production using irrigation on a
They have a health clinic, community pharmacy with community based health workers was been
set up and run by the community with a distribution programme for family planning materials. There
now are reduced incidents of water borne diseases through improved sanitation and poverty levels
in the community
The project has enhanced cohesiveness at the grassroots, and established an effective
participatory strategy for grass roots development that has been duplicated in other Kenyan
communities. The capacity of grassroots institutions to improve production, entrepreneurship and to
take charge of the development process within their surroundings was boosted. The creativity and
determination of the members has created self-employment for the youth with the families having
extra labor time and cash to invest in soil conservation and agro forestry. This led to positive
impacts on environmental and natural resource management at the local level (ecologically
The group has a revolving fund through micro-savings credit schemes for the community has been
5) Biodiversity Impacts: How has the initiative contributed to the conservation or sustainable
use of biodiversity or to the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from biodiversity and or
genetic resources? If possible, please quantify these contributions.
The community has been able to successfully improve their standards of living through the provision of
water, and investments in income generating projects. Members take care of their grazing lands and
have integrated environmental issues such as tree planting to protect the water catchments areas and
prevent soil erosion; they have invested in simple irrigation techniques to sustain their horticultural
activities in a semi-arid area.
6) Combined Impacts: How does the initiative work simultaneously to reduce poverty and
conserve biodiversity/what approaches, techniques, or tools are employed that bring benefit in
The initiative is located in Eastern Kenya a semi arid zone that faces constant droughts and famine.
Being a community initiative, the success stories only positively portray how the involvement of
communities in decision making especially in issues affecting them goes a along way towards
alleviating these problems. The community was able to mobilize resources in the form of labor, time
and networking rather than depend entirely on partner support.
7) Partnerships: For each partner, describe the nature of the partnerships, its origins, and how
the partnership has contributed to the success of this initiative.
Africa 2000 Network provided seed capital and the credit facility for Expanded Trickle Up and
capacity building for the community, Expanded Trickle Up programme provided a credit facility for the
purchase of heifers on a rotational and payback system to go into a revolving fund that would ensure all
the members receive heifers. They also provided training on small business management.
The German Foundation For World Population was impressed by the group’s efforts and offered
370 water pipes and was also involved in the establishment of the health center and on the family
planning initiative. The American Peace Corps provided technical advice and labor for the community
as well as the medicines for the community health center. The Government of Kenya provided technical
expertise from the Ministry of Livestock (for dairy management), Ministry of Water Development (for
survey and technical expertise on the development of the dairy schemes, training on water and dairy
8) Sustainability (Describe the sustainability of the initiative? How long has this initiative been
in operation? What are the key social, institutional, financial, and ecological elements that make
this initiative sustainable?)
Management of the Project: Water meters have been placed at each home with every member
paying for consumption with these resources being used for maintance. The members enforce the rules
on the amount of consumption and water use that is crucial for continuity and success of the water
project. There is an elected committee that is elected every two years to manage the project. The
members make monthly contributions to the project and keep books of accounts.. The group has a
strong management committee that has enabled diversified production using small-scale irrigation
Each member must have a zero grazing unit with enough pasture about ¼ acre each, growing Napier
grass; they must grow bananas, potatoes, and vegetables and have a water storage tank. The group
buys the feeds, supplements and medicines that members repay back with the milk proceeds. Calves
are given to members at 18 months until each member gets a heifer. The excess milk sent to Embu
Dairy and local people.
They have an effective micro savings and credit scheme, an efficient financial management and book
keeping procedure with the members’ contributing labor and mobilized savings. They also received
training on informal savings and credit to strengthen their management of informal savings. This makes
a revolving fund available for the community members who involve them selves in income generating
The receive local administrative and government support through technical advice, Capacity building in
veterinary care, artificial insemination, milk marketing, animal production
The initiative has provided valuable lessons in community empowerment, which is fundamental in
ensuring sustainability in project management. These helps support communities and development and
strengthen grass roots communities. It has demonstrated how group organization is critical for success.
Community rotating leadership, downward accountability system, frequent meetings, transparent
democracy, timely presentation of financial reports. Self-assessment is an integral part of a project and
project implementation activities. This forms the basis of decision-making and leads to improved project
performance. This enhances participatory development as the participants are involved in the process
are responsible for implementing most of the major decisions. The use and respect of traditional
knowledge, skills and practices has positively led to ownership and a high level of commitment to the
9) Gender; describe how the initiative has addresses gender equity in its approaches to
biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.
Kugeria initiative has been a front-runner in encouraging women to practice new forms of agriculture
and livestock production. They were able to take steps to eradicate poverty and help the communities
change. The project has proved to be a success where it was a failure when men in the community ran
it. The women were able to understand their community needs and take affirmative action in
addressing issues of poverty reduction.
Through a gender based approach, and their affirmative action, the women have acquired confidence
in their economic social and political roles within the community and the confidence to work with the
men. The initiative is an example of sustainable development to alleviate poverty by increasing
household food security, raising incomes, improve the local social economic status with countrywide
multiplier effects. Families have had extra labor, time and cash to invest in sol conservation and agro
forestry. This has led to direct empowerment of the women and the youth at the grassroots.
10. Other Information: Is there anything of importance you wish to convey about the initiative?
Kugeria stands out as one of the most successful projects in Kenya initiated and successfully by
women. It has become a platform of information and experience exchange for other women groups in
Kenya. Communities are able to identify and initiate their own projects that alleviate their poverty
situation. With government and partner support, in terms of technical advice and capacity building such
initiatives stand to benefit from long term commitment and sustainability.