Rural Outreach Africa (ROA) works to impact nutrition and health in the community through primary schools. Since 2015, ROA has works with local and international partners to set up school interventions for improved food and nutrition security and incomes. We have implemented school gardens and agricultural enterprises in 3 counties in Kenya – Kakamega, Nairobi and Siaya.
With support from the public sector, private companies and research institutions, ROA has the capacity to establish sustainable enterprises in more schools in the country.
ROA collaborates with the school heads, teachers, students, parents, and other stakeholders in the county departments of agriculture, education, and local administration to create awareness and sensitization about this program. The stakeholders help to ensure the success and sustainability of school-based agricultural programs.
ROA works with 4K cubs in primary schools to set up agricultural enterprises where children learn how to grow food, how to keep and care for animals (poultry and livestock), food preparation and agribusiness. 4K stands for Kuungana Kufanya Kusaidia Kenya, which translates to: to unite, to work with one’s hands to help build Kenya.
ROA facilitates the acquisition of inputs including organic fertilizer, seeds, and other planting materials. We prefer to source inputs and animals from local farmers and agro-dealers.
Establishment of school gardens involves hands-on training with ROA field staff together with students and teachers. During the exercise, the students learn about good agricultural practices (GAPs) of various crops, water & soil conservation, and preparation of organic manure.
ROA staffs monitor the gardens closely to ensure proper setup, resolve any implementation challenges and advice on corrective measures, evaluate the performance of the gardens, sustainability, linking to school feeding programs, post harvest and marketing issues.
There are yet many schools that can benefit from school gardening. ROA invites partners from the public sector, private companies, and research institutions to invest in and strengthen school-based agricultural programs to ensure food and nutrition security in the country.
ROA’s work in schools is periodically featured in the local media, the most recent was in the Smart Harvest pullout in the Standard Newspaper on February 21, 2019, and The Daily Nation newspaper (September 22, 2018) A Case for Revival of 4K Clubs in Schools
Successful school-based agricultural enterprises will:
Among the many challenges in developing countries is the quality of education. Accessing good quality education is a problem because families cannot afford schooling costs. The rural communities we serve face myriads of impediments to economic development. It is important to ensure people access sufficient and nutritious foods.
While addressing food insecurity ad low incomes, Rural Outreach Africa (ROA) found out that school retention rate was quite low. Teenagers would drop out of school for lack of school fees and food scarcity. Professor Oniang’o established a kitty from her personal savings to disburse bursary support in form of school fees payment for the most vulnerable and deserving students. Books would be bought as well as uniforms and other basic materials required by the school.
A few months into the bursary program, ROA could not ignore instances of teenage girls who had to discontinue from school due to early pregnancies. Immediately these girls reached a noticeable stage of pregnancies, they dropped out of school. Every year additional number of teens caught pregnancies forcing them to motherhood at an alarmingly young age. It was important that teenagers comprehended the significance of abstinence, contraception, and consequences of choices they made.
There are a number of ways of preventing teenage pregnancies but the most effective is total abstinence from irresponsible sexual behaviors. Abstinence not only keeps teenagers away from pregnancies but also zero risk of getting infected with STIs and HIV. ROA managed to roll out cancelling and mentorship programs for both genders in schools. Other than bringing parents/guardians and students together to daylong seminars to share and get to know each other, cancelling sessions were organized regularly.
Beneficiaries of ROA bursary scheme were expected to show good examples to their peers in line with their classwork performance and social behavioral conduct. ROA would visit schools to inform the management of this support so that no student under the program would have their schooling interrupted in case of late relay of the funds.