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Biting Hunger Drives Rural women Away from Adult education Class


Kenya is facing the a devastating famine following lack of rains and the last post elections violence that kept many families from last years planting season.

In country where most farm work is done by women and children the effects can clearly be seen from the high food prices that many households can hardly afford especially the low income household living in the rural areas.

Women in rural Kenya are the bread winners in thir families. they are endowed with responsibility of amongst other chores to look for and prepare food for their families. Lately, mamy women have kept off from adult education classes and other development projects run by self help groups to attend to family needs of sourcing at least a meal a day.

Lungalunga in Kwale district is one of those areas that hunger has bitten deep with a family of at least 8 people surviving on a kilo of maize and beans a day. In the past women have been eating the last and the least but now many hardly taste the meal they prepare for their families because the portion is not enought for all.

In this situation it is difficult for women to attend the adult education lessons no matter how interested they may be. and if by an chance they find time to attend a lesson, at time they are too hungry to concentrate. Project Africa; a non profit organization promoting adult education for women in Lungalunga recorded a turn out of 5 women in the last lesson in a class that enrols at least 25 women in one session.

From this case it is obvious that in the event of famine women suffer the most, such vulnerability hinders empowerment of women and should be addressed at all levels.

Is there anything that we can do to help? may be provide a packet of maize meal to tose women who attend adult education so that they dont have to be away from class? i wil be glad to hear your views, Let's support and make a difference.




I strongly continue to believe that the only solution for countries that lack internal solutions and resources to address these urgent needs is international aid, despite heated debate on whether it is a viable solution or not. I am concerned about how international aid will flow to distressed countries in the shadow of global economic crisis.

For instance, the commitment made under the 1970 United Nations target for aid of 0.7% of rich-country GDP remains a distant dream (OECD report) since only Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have reached this target. Today, the average contribution is 0.45% of GDP. This is very pessimistic news since poor countries, such as Kenya, are already affected by a combination of slowing growth, high poverty, and little fiscal firepower to put new programmes of social assistance in place, or to beef up existing ones. This has led some to argue that foreign aid could play a role in filling this gap by contributing to the creation of social safety nets, or temporary transfer programmes to protect the developing world's poor (The Economist).

Like it or not this is the state of international political commitment. While there is already in place an agreed upon framework under which developed countries must pool together their resources, the 1970 United Nations target aid, reinforced by the Millennium Developed Program, there is still weak coordination and agreement among the world leaders on which should be the institutional set up to gather these resources. For instance, Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, has proposed the creation of a “vulnerability fund” for developing countries, a collective pot into which rich countries would put 0.7% of their stimulus packages, the same percentage agreed under the UN auspices, which according to the famous economist Jeffrey Sachs, will contribute to eradicating extreme poverty by 2050. I think that these dispersed “vulnerability funds” created under different international authorities are deemed to achieve nothing. Why not create a centralized scheme, or stick to current UN fund, which has the credibility, and genuine mission to lift poor people from poverty? This will create a more comprehensive and transparent picture on how each country, signatory of the MDGs, contributes to the achievement of global goals, such as halving poverty by 2050.

I do believe in the power of grassroots initiatives, in the development that comes from within, but they have more chances to flourish when there is already a viable base in place, when the basic needs are satisfied and a “packet of maize” is assured.

Thank you Danielle for your comment

Personally, I stopped depending on state and non state actors in solving proplems affecting people at the grassroots because such help comes with strings attached if not with manipulation and control and above all with very little of the help goes directly to the ground.

I prefer to take the stance of constructivists and desire to solves problems by individuals for individuals. It my seem like a little drop of help over a vast ocean of problems but with times the drop of water a day turns out to be a flood. I therefore challenge every one i meet to think what they individually can do to make life better if you can. Our leaders have let us down and we can no longer sit nad wait for their mercy. We are ralllying change from bottom -up and they will be caught by surprise someday. Thank you for sharing

mamaAfrica's picture

Bottom-Up is the sure way to go

Thank you Danielle for your comment

Personally, I stopped depending on state and non state actors in solving proplems affecting people at the grassroots because such help comes with strings attached if not with manipulation and control and above all with very little of the help goes directly to the ground.

I prefer to take the stance of constructivists and desire to solves problems by individuals for individuals. It my seem like a little drop of help over a vast ocean of problems but with times the drop of water a day turns out to be a flood. I therefore challenge every one i meet to think what they individually can do to make life better if you can. Our leaders have let us down and we can no longer sit nad wait for their mercy. We are ralllying change from bottom -up and they will be caught by surprise someday. Thank you for sharing

l think us women need to be empowered. That is the only way we can help ourselves and our families especially our daughters or else the cycle will still be same. Foods can be donated from relief organizations but the question is for how long. The best help is to educate the women so that the can find ways of also helping themselves. Men are not any better than women. And it is high time they also started taking responsibility of the family. Because of little or no education women give birth to many children who raising becomes an issue. Men are never bothered at this times. Most of them would wake up early in the morning expect breakfast then go out to the local centers and chat the day away with fellow men and then come back home and expect to find a warm dish, water ready for bath and call it a day without even thinking of how this food is obtained. While the woman will be here all day thinking hard and toiling in order to make sure that the family is provided for.

This is just the same thing that would happen to the girl child. She won't go to school because the parents would not afford to pay her fees and especially the father will see no need of her going to school and term that as a waste of money and time. They believe in marrying the girl child as soon as she reaches puberty because they can't wait to relieve themselves of one mouth to feed and get the that dowry which the father would most probably drink it all off.

The only way to beat poverty is to teach women of ways to make a leaving. Provide them with capital after this to set them off. And teach them of birth control methods so that they can give birth to only those children they can afford to raise comfortably. They should also know their rights. Like their right to education . It is the best investment someone can have. The wealth of education is the way to a good and happy living and no one can never snatch it away from you. I admire the strength of a woman. Women we can make it. We have to. Failing is not an option here. We deserve a good life and we must make this life good and worth living.

mamaAfrica's picture

empowerment of women is a process

Dear phyllis

thank you for your contribution. I agree with every sentiment you have made hereby but I think that you have overlooked the fact that empowerment is a process which should be taken one step at a tiem one day at a time. Women in rural africa are will for change. they desire it but we must realise that like all of us are learning in different categories. there are those who are fast at embrassing the need for liberty other will do it slowly. we have to go with them by they pace and consideraing other primodial characteristics that sorround them eg culture, religion, economic ability etc.

The reason for my posting On how hunger is causing women to leave adult education is meant to show that though they are willing to attend class they are handicaped by other responsibilities that they must attend to in this case is hunger. The financial crisis and high prices of food is affecting women world wide and though those of us who are career women may be can still afford three meals a day there are women in rural villages who cant afford a meal. The posting is meant to allow us to empathise with those facing hunger now. If a woman has no food how do we expect to give her a loan and expect she will buy food before she starts a business? and if she is given a loan without education how will she run her business profitably. All these factors are realted but need to be prioritised.

Can i blame the women absenting them selves from class despite our efforts to educate them NO what they are doing for now is legitimate. They have to find food for their children. They have to live one more day and if we can provide that food so taht they can go own with education then i beliee it is morally right.

I am one of those women who beleive that we in Africa must work. and work hard to fight poverty. our organization has adopted a model of learning by doing and earning. training women in new skills and helping them to earn from their skillls. Africa is rich with opportunities and women have the ability to do better but they need education, skills and resources. But all these must not overlook the underlying web of challenges affecting gender equality and empowerment of women. Untying the web of problems in Africa should be done carefully first by finding the source and unwinding the string bit by bit.

Terry's picture

Meeting the Needs wholesomely

It is very encouraging to hear of the adult education classes going on, yet so sad that there are those that will miss out because of hunger. Yes, it is important to empower women with skills and resources. But in such a case where even attending the classes is a struggle due to lack of food, is it possible for the Sponsor, with the help of others, to introduce a system where these women are given food at the center so that they are able to concentrate on the education they are being offered? This can be an immediate intervention to bring the women back to class.

In the long term, the women can be assisted with small loans to begin businesses that can bring in some income so that they are able, with the education they have received, to benefit their families and the community that they live in as a whole. The self help groups, or merry-go-rounds are good methods of bringing savings together, no matter how little, and this will benefit the women in the long run.

Women are very hard working and can turn around a bad situation into an oasis of life for others. I believe it is possible for this women to better their lives.

Terry Shiundu

mamaAfrica's picture

This is a perfect echo

Hi Terry, thank you for sharing in my thoughts. For sure the hunger need should be addressed now sice the women cannot wait with empty stomachs. may be for them it is ok to wait a day or two but the screams of hungry children are unbearable.

I have considered giving at least a 2 kilos of maize meal and beans to the women coming for adult education not just because it is an incentive to attend school but because the situation is getting out of hand. I hate to see women going to prostitution on the border town of lungalunga because they cannot find money to buy food except by engaging in cheap and risky sexual behavour.

I would love to sponsor the women buy food. I have worked with them for sometime now. i make sacrifices too sometimes taking two or three so i can share with the women in kenya (I wish there was another source of Funding but my conscience cannot wait for the beauracracy of state and non state institutions to help) so together with friends of Project Africa and other well wishers, individuals who want to make a change we have been doing our best.

If there are other who wish to help we welcome such support. we will connect you directly to the project leaders on the ground to receive any support for food and they will report back to you by showing photos or videos of what they have done on the ground. That way help comes directly from an individual and is accounted for too.

A packet of maize meal is selling at USD 1.25 and beans USD 1.50.

One more thing i must mention, the women in lungalunga are very hard working read my posting on lungalunga women with a purpose and mission. Most who are in our project have been running by the road side businesses however it is a difficult time now that business are doing poorly with every family diverting every finacial resource into buying food. therefore those selling clothes have stock but not selling at all. we have initiated income genertaing activities but the risk at this time is when women have no income they are bound to use their capital to settle for household needs.

So for sure any help to the food crisis is temporal soon the women will be back to their feet and will make their own income. But now we must help them to find food, so they dont have to leave education neither use their capital for business. if they do so they will be going back to zero point of the poverty cycle.

Terry's picture

Going the Extra mile

I have come to realize that there is a thin line between those who have and those who have not. In the current global crisis that the world is facing, even the World's Richest people are feeling it. They have lost billions in the Stock market, and in various other ways, because people are no longer spending the way they used to.

Today you might have plenty, it may be all gone tomorrow. It is for each individual to rise up and look at what they have, and find a way to help those around them, just to make a difference in someone else's life.

I am a Kenyan, living in Nairobi and would like to support the women in Lunga Lunga to continue with their classes. Please tell me how i can be involved, if there is a number where i can M-Pesa some money, even if to buy 4 kilos of Unga for 2 women, it is the little that comes in that makes all the difference.

I have been lobbying within my sphere to raise money and foodstuffs to support those who are hungry in various parts of Kenya. It is a slow process, but i believe will bear much fruit in the long run. We cannot continue with the status quo that is going on. We can no longer wait for donors and humanitarian agencies to come to our aid. We must rise up, with whatever we have to support our own!

Terry Shiundu

mamaAfrica's picture

Unity is Stength

Terry You have said it all right. Our leaders have failed us and know one may know how much pain the have nots are going through except ourselves. The rich will still gather more at the expence of the poorand if they help the poor it is on condition, they will either grab land, manipulate election system, do whaterver they can with a capitalistic mind to remain in power. their self interest override the interests of the masses.

i am happy that you are willing to help we are small people making big impact that is the motto we should have
feel free to call Project Africa's office in Lungalunga 0n +254 729 419125 and our project Leader will receive your gift of love to save a woman's life

Also you could our association of the Leading ladies these are young women in nairobi and other parts of kenya who are helping me with advice on how we can empower our sisters in the villages. karibu Kindly contact us


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