The partnership between SIGBI and Child.org started back in March 2016 when we officially launched the start of the Meru Women’s Garden Project (MWGP). The project meets SIGBI’s ‘educate, empower, enable’ programme goals by transforming the lives of women and girls across Meru through agricultural training and health initiatives for local girls. The project is being implemented by Community Initiatives for Rural Development (CIFORD), a local organisation which is headed up by Margaret Ikiara who is also a member of Soroptimist International Meru. Margaret has been running CIFORD for almost 20 years and is an expert in agricultural training and community development.
The programme is the first of its kind at this scale that CIFORD has ever run, but by working with Child.org they have been able to implement the programme with fantastic efficiency. Child.org have also helped CIFORD to collect data and to understand and measure the impact the project is having on the women and the local community.
We’re now 19 months into the partnership and for SIGBI it’s been full of luncheons, bake sales, garden shows and various events all in support of the women and girls of Meru. Their fundraising efforts have been tireless and members have an in depth understanding of the work that’s happening on the ground and have used this knowledge to gain support of the project across the UK and beyond! So it comes as no surprise that they have hit the £100,000 mark half-way into the 3-year partnership.
In the first year of the programme we have been able to enroll 198 women and men onto the year-long Agricultural Training and educate 212 girls on the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). It has been an incredibly successful year with both Child.org and CIFORD learning from one another and developing the programme along the way.
Now that SIGBI have hit £100,000, we are able to make plans for the next group of women to enroll onto the agricultural training and girls to attend future FGM seminars. This means we’ll be working with at least 560 women over the three-year period providing them with the means to not only support themselves but to also support their entire family and the local communities. This will give the community improved food security and healthier diets. When we surveyed the women at the beginning of the programme, 88% of those surveyed told us that they produce enough food to support their family for under 3 months of the year. 6 months into the training, women were telling us that they were producing more food than before the training started. With an average household size of 8.6, SIGBI funds are indirectly supporting nearly 5,000 people through the agricultural training alone.
In 2018 we will also be launching the mothers' nutritional training with around 90 young mothers. The programme will aim to develop their skills around child health and nutrition.
New mums will be trained on breastfeeding, HIV, sanitation, pre&post-natal care, positive nutrition, childcare and the basics of agricultural development. This will have a long-term impact on the nutritional status of children in the region, using the women's group model as a vehicle for driving change.
To stay updated on the exciting work that’s happening visit meruwomen.org