Sustainable Organic Farming and Development Initiatives (SOFDI) was started over 15 years ago with a vision to support and empower the hardworking farmers of Western Kenya.
Over that time the SOFDI’s Swiss Founder, Brigitte Frey, has personally guided and grown the program, bringing in a wealth of insight from years of living and doing business in Kenya, and building a network of local and international experts and stakeholders together along the way. Her strategic decision to focus on one geographical area has allowed her to really learn first-hand what works on the ground and to invest in sustainable programs. This includes training farmers on climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive agriculture to improve food security, promote healthy diets, and sustainable livelihoods through farming.
A cornerstone of this work is providing access to clean and safe drinking water through spring protection.
Less than 13% of the population in rural Kenya has piped water. Most rural residents are forced to collect water from unimproved sources like streams, rivers, pooled groundwater, or unfiltered rainwater. Collecting water from open sources like these comes with high risks to health and at a high cost in terms of productivity lost due to time wastage and resulting illness. Stagnant water sources are also a breeding ground for Malarial mosquitos and unsafe conditions are dangerous for the many women and children responsible for fetching water.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for water and sanitation, Goal 6, calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030. While the ideal of safe water available directly in each rural home still remains a distant vision in Western Kenya, the first step of providing everyone with a basic service within a 30-minute round trip is achievable and this project contributes towards that.
Each spring reaches an average of 45 households or about 200 people, who are also trained on best WASH practices around the springs and at home.
SOFDI works closely with the Ministry of Health and Department of Water and Sanitation to identify areas suitable and most in need of an improved water source. They prioritize sites with large catchment areas including young children and adjacent schools and also those where clean water collection points are widely spaced. They also assess the sites in terms of aquifer status, distance from contamination and flood risks, as well as accessibility. The communities are usually the ones who report the need and come with a proposed site for which access is already guaranteed.
Each community is required to establish a formal spring management committee and complete a series of forms allowing SOFDI to identify the households benefiting and obtain explicit agreement from the landowner of the site. Prior to work commencing, the expected contribution required of them is outlined and the local area chief is engaged in the process. The community contributes approx. 25% of the inputs (materials that are locally available) and supporting labour.
By partnering with a well-established and swiss-run NGO with a dedicated team on the ground in Kenya, we are able to support an existing and expanding spring protection program, which provides access to a reliable, long-lasting protected spring as a source of clean water closer to homes.SOFDI works with local-area Chiefs and the Kenyan Gov. Ministry of Health on the ground to identify the sites, provide WASH education, and facilitate the spring inaugurations.
The springs have a lifespan of approximately 15 years, which means they help reduce the exposure to unsafe conditions and contaminated water sources sometimes across generations of beneficiaries.
SOFDI plans to continue their spring protection work indefinitely or as long as it is needed in the areas they can feasibly reach.
Any external sponsorship they receive for their spring protection work allows them to apply their fixed budget towards other aspects of their program, which takes a holistic approach to achieving a sustainable, positive and wider impact.
The causes of hunger, disease and problematic socio-economic conditions in the region are manifold and interconnected, so SOFDI is using multiple interventions with farmers, families, communities and schools in order to maximize impact.
Their other programs and activities include:
The sponsorship of 400CHF per spring covers the cost of materials, construction, and project management. All other overhead costs will be carried by A Better World / SOFDI.
For each sponsored spring, SOFDI thoroughly documents the whole process from application to certificate of completion, including photo documentation at each stage of protection. For each sponsored spring, the Lion’s Club/Donors will receive the following documentation (usually available 2-3 month after sponsorship is committed):
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