Community-led planning creates hope for the future

Until recently, Abaqdera settlement in Garissa County, Northeastern Kenya, had a very hard time retaining its teachers due to lack of proper accommodation. According to School Chairman, Isse Abdi Ali, this meant that the local primary school’s 100 pupils missed significant amounts of class time and scored poorly on national-level tests.

Abaqdera settlement, which is located 45 km away from the Country’s capital, Garissa town, has a population of around 1,750 people. The village, which was established in 1993, grew over time as pastoralist households gradually settled from nearby areas. During the drought of 2011, a large number of pastoralists came and established themselves in Abaqdera to gain access to food and other humanitarian aid.

Because of its remoteness, limited infrastructure, and growing population of exiting pastoralists, the Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid Lands – Improving Resilience (REGAL-IR) project targeted Abaqdera as a particularly vulnerable location. Adeso staff members first engaged with the community in September 2013 and embarked on a process of community-led planning called the Participatory Learning, Planning and Action process. By using mapping tools and visioning exercises, the community was able to identify its strengths and opportunities, and develop a full-fledged Community Development Action Plan (CDAP).

Community representatives, including women and the Area Assistant Chief, actively participated in the design and development of the CDAP. As they brainstormed about livelihoods, water, natural resource management, education, and health, community members visualized the change they wanted to see in their lives. One of their dreams was to improve the education of their children.

To make this dream a reality, the community identified the construction of teachers’ quarters as their highest priority. But for that to happen they needed funds. Using what they had learned through the Participatory Learning, Planning and Action process, the community took the initiative to submit a proposal to the County Administration Office detailing their plan. In turn, county officials submitted the proposal to the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) committee for financing of the teachers’ quarters.

Within a month, the CDF committee approved the proposal, and construction of the quarters was completed by December 2013. Teachers have since occupied their new quarters and the community appears to be well on its way to successfully retaining its teachers.

Resilience and Economic Growth in the Arid lands – Improving Resilience (REGAL-IR) is a five year program funded by USAID’s Feed the Future strategy for Kenya. Together with partners, Adeso is working to reduce hunger and poverty, increase social stability, and build strong foundations for economic growth and environmental resilience for pastoral and transitional communities in Northern Kenya.