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30 April 2024 - News


Amitir sitting in a boat docked at Lake Turkana. Photo Courtesy|Dorothy Waweru, Save the Children

By Dorothy Waweru

Repairing boats in Todonyang, a remote village in Turkana North, poses risks according to some residents, who have heard rumors of calamities faced by those attempting repairs. Despite these concerns, the Kalabash group, formed in 2022, consisting of 20 determined young men from various regions, has defied the odds. 

The Todonyang area, known for insecurity due to lurking bandits, has hindered the community's livelihood, with attacks and theft of livestock to neighbouring Ethiopia. The Kalabash members make monthly sacrifices, trekking long distances, facing security threats, and enduring the harsh sun to attend meetings.  

Initiated by the USAID Nawiri Mercy Corps project, the group received training in basic numeracy, literacy, saving, loaning, and entrepreneurship. This education empowered them to choose careers under the Mashinani program. Seventeen members opted for boat making, addressing the lack of qualified technicians identified in the Beach Management Units (BMUs) Capacity Assessment Report. Esinyen, a 21-year-old, joined the group in 2022, driven by the need to support his family after leaving school at grade 7 due to financial constraints. The Nawiri project revitalized his education, enabling him to learn math and literacy. Financial literacy from the group helped him manage his fishing business effectively.  

Amitir, a 24-year-old, also a Kalabash member, started fishing in 2012 to alleviate family poverty. Financial literacy from the group empowered him to invest in his fishing business. Excited about the boat making course, he believes it will save costs and create employment opportunities for the community.  

"This group has changed my life. From the saving and loaning, I was able to borrow some money to buy a new net for my business," says Amitir.

Kataboi Vocational Center Manager Maurice Kawalase sees boat-making as a valuable skill for the area, acknowledging the Ujuzi Mashinani program's impact. The Kalabash group's choice is lauded, as it aligns with their proximity to Lake Turkana, offering a livelihood advantage. Esinyen and Amitir, enthusiastic about boat making, urge USAID Nawiri to expedite the training to address unemployment and depression in their community.   

The Ujuzi Mashinani program, focused on Turkana and Samburu counties, aims to empower adolescent girls, young women and male youth through vocational training, entrepreneurship, and socio-economic opportunities. The model seeks to reduce malnutrition and enhance agency, with the overarching goal of positive life outcomes for youth in health and socio-economic empowerment.