A Community Based Organization in Turkana County, Kenya.
Youth Empowerment, Community Development and Environmental Conservation
Working towards sustainable development requires a concerted, deliberate and timely effort especially on the part of the youthful members of the community if the challenges of our times are to be met. Ensuring the environment around us is able to sustain economic and social activities and most importantly, life, is more critical now than ever before. The combination of climate change, poor management of natural resources and unsustainable activities over many decades is devastating communities and livelihoods and an urgent consensus and action among the youth is now required to begin the process of addressing the challenges bedeviling communities.
Recurring failures of leadership at different levels of the political bureaucracy have set expectations in Kerio several steps back. The majority of the youth in Kerio governments lack the requisite capacity to pursue a common position on such issues. This has paralyzed the contribution of the youth to the development of this community and thus yielding few positive results. A majority of the youth are not exposed to the opportunities available to the youth in the national and county governments and this has serious implications to youth and their future.
Lorengelup, located 47 kilometres on the eastern part of Lodwar Town in Turkana County is a community with a population of approximately two thousand (2000) people with an illiteracy level of more than 80%. With the lowest rainfall in the Republic of Kenya and Africa, life in this part of the world is characterized by substandard living, lack of security, unreliable food and inadequate clean water sources, and generally an overall daily fight for survival. Like many other regions of rural Kenya, the local community has to depend on the philanthropy and charity of friends of goodwill and rely on help from Non-Governmental Organizations in the form of relief food which may not always be forthcoming. They have been passing their days in extreme inhuman conditions with a few engaging in business but with the challenge of initial starting capital. There has been a high level of poverty among the local populace cemented by low level of literacy, poor health, malnutrition, wanting educational facilities and depressing environmental and sanitation conditions. Government interventions have always remained traditional yet the conditions of this region demand innovative approaches.
Lorengelup Primary School for instance, was started in the year 1985 by the Government of Kenya with an intention of eradicating the high levels of illiteracy in the local community. However, despite being one of the oldest primary schools in the entire county, the first Kenya Certificate of Primary School examination was administered in this school in the year 2011. Pathetic learning facilities have sabotaged the provision of quality education services in this community. The current pupil’s population is 350 in single streams with only Three Teachers Service Commission/ Government teachers and four teachers employed by Parents Teachers Association. The school’s infrastructure includes a staffroom, three mud-walled classrooms and teachers’ quarters all of which are thatched. These mud-walled classes were established tens of years back and have served as the sole source of learning structure available to the whole primary school that is complete with KCPE examination candidates. At times, the school administration is forced to have pupils of different classes occupy this so called classroom with one class facing the other end of the wall and the other facing the other. This has paralyzed teaching in this primary school as teachers have to wait for one to get out since it is practically impossible to have them teach different classes in the same structure at the same time. This becomes even worse during rainy seasons when the mud is brought down rendering the classes no longer conducive for teaching and learning. In order to address the above problem, more classes are needed to ensure that no learners are turned away; thus ensuring provision of universal education to all needy learners in this part of Kenya.
Since the introduction of Free Primary Education in 2003 by the Kibaki administration, there has been an increased enrolment in primary schools, without a commensurate increase in either infrastructure or personnel. This has led to overstretched education and sanitary facilities, adversely affecting the quality of education. We recognize that one of the ways of improving the retention and performance in primary schools is through improving the infrastructure. Lorengelup Community Development Initiative wishes to initiate Lorengelup Primary School Classrooms Projects to be supported by friends, Government and Non-Governmental Organizations, as has been done in other parts of Kenya in order to help meet the basic education needs of the school-going children of the poor men and women in Loreng'elup through a decent learning environment. We strongly believe that promoting and enhancing education in Lorengelup is the only sustainable way of sorting out the numerous issues that have bedeviled this community for so long.
The local Catholic Church- St. Charles Lwanga was established by The Catholic Diocese of Lodwar in 2006 and the structure that used to serve as the church was destroyed by strong hailstorms during the rainy season. As a result, the community prays under a tree, with a catechist and complete with a priest.
It is often said that water is life and where water is available in unreliable quantities and quality, life is threatened. In Lorengelup Community, the locals rely on the coloured water from the nearby streams which has seen a number of them lose lives to water-borne and unclean water related ailments. Cholera is famous for striking this community at least considerable number of times in a year and there is therefore an urgent need to help them get access to clean and reliable water. The open shallow wells in the river are a threat to human life as this same shallow well is shared with wild animals and strangers. The Catholic Diocese of Lodwar sponsored construction of a water pump and a windmill to pipe water to the community but the pump has been breaking down several times despite the careful manner in which it is handled, forcing the community to resort to underhand methods of getting water from the streams. The recent experience of the food insecurity that led to the intervention of Kenyans for Kenya and in which Lorengelup community was among the worst affected is not a unique or an isolated case. Citizens’ participation to community life and networking can contribute in reorienting local policies and developmental patterns towards sustainability.
Faced with the challenge of giving back to their community, student-elites of Lorengelup community who pursue a number of degree courses in various universities in the capital Nairobi banded together in the year 2013 in an attempt to form a Community Based Organization to be based in Lorengelup with geographical jurisdiction of its work cutting across Lorengelup and the entire Kerio Division with focus on Community Development, Youth Economic Empowerment and Environmental Conservation. As a result, a Community Based Organization by the name Lorengelup Community Development Initiative (Locodein) was born and resolved to no longer look at the past injustices faced by the people in Lorengelup but to step in and make a difference in this community.
P.O BOX 101