On the 25th March 2014, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) together with the Austrian Red Cross, Neighbours In Need (Nachbar In Not) and Makueni County leadership commissioned the Kibwezi Integrated Food Security and Livelihoods Project.
The project, situated at Masongaleni location in Makueni County was initiated in July 2012 with a budget of Kshs 64 Million and targets marginal mixed farming communities.
Commissioning of the project was presided over by Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, Governor of Makueni County, Hon. Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, Senator Makueni County, Dr. Asha Mohamed, Deputy Secretary General KRCS, Michael Opriesnig, Deputy Secretary General, Austrian Red Cross and Max Santner, HOD International Cooperation, Austrian Red Cross.
The project aims to contribute to improved resilience of target communities for 10,000 direct beneficiaries 1,666 house-holds and 7,000 indirect beneficiaries within the larger Masongaleni Location. This is to be achieved through taping the under-utilized potential of the Athi River, introduction of irrigated agriculture along the river and use of high value crops that are high yielding, improved agronomic and aqua farming technologies and practices among target farmers, improve livelihoods and food security through marketing and cooperative society driven sustainability systems, support health care provision through; health outreaches, nutritional surveillance for under-fives pregnant and lactating mothers, hygiene promotion in households and schools.
During the ceremony, beneficiaries lauded KRCS, the Austrian Red Cross and Neighbours In Need for initiating and working with the host community. The Makueni County leadership promised to support future initiatives with KRCS as their preferred project implementer.
One of the beneficiaries, Mary Kasalai, testified that the project had turned her life around. She used to work as barmaid in Kibwezi, but when the project was initiated, she returned home and exploited her farm with the help of KRCS. Today she can afford to employ casuals to till her land and is a chairlady of a local trust because of the success of the project.
The project is part of KRCS longer term strategy in mitigating the impacts of drought by investing in mid-long term agricultural and livelihood practices that contribute to better adaptation to the effects of drought, strengthen livelihood options, increase level of income and overall increased resilience to drought.