The women saving money for when there are no rainy days

4 July 2019

Shuff and her baby. Shuff is part of the Mudhe Women's Group

Shuff lost half of her animals during the drought in Kenya. She often had to go hungry so her children could eat.

In the UK, when we put money aside for emergencies we say we’re ‘saving for a rainy day’. In Marsabit, Kenya, people save for when there is no rain.

In late 2016 there was no rain. Communities across East Africa were devastated by one of the worst droughts the region has ever seen. Thousands died and many more were left struggling to rebuild their lives.

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"At times we go without food"

Shuff survived the drought, but many of her animals did not.

“During the drought our donkeys became weak and the livestock died,” she says. “Almost half my animals perished.”

If you live in a pastoralist community like Shuff’s, your animals are your life. They are your main source of food and often your only way of making an income. Losing just a few goats, camels or donkeys could make it hard to make ends meet. Losing more than a few could leave you struggling just to keep your family alive.

“At times we go without food,” said Shuff. “I have to go without to feed my children. There is no other choice.”

In spite of the challenges, Shuff loves her way of life and wouldn’t change it. But she realised the unpredictable weather patterns were making it too risky to rely on her animals alone. She needed a back-up plan.

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The women investing in a better future

The Mudhe Women's Group. They wear green as a symbol of unity with each other and their environment.

The Mudhe Women's Group. They wear green as a symbol of unity with each other and their environment.

She joined the Mudhe Women’s Group – an amazing group of women who pool their resources to improve their community and help each other out when times are hard.

Our local experts helped the group get started, and since then they have flourished.

“The women’s group have a savings and loan scheme – we all pay into the savings box and if one of us needs money the group agree together whether to give it,” explains Shake, another member of the Mudhe Women’s Group, who was given a loan to start her own shop. “The shop gives me income so that we don’t have to slaughter our animals for money.”

The group helped Shuff find ways to earn additional income, so she won't be left with nothing if anything happens to her animals.

“I make a living by diversifying my crop,” she says. “People now have two meals a day thanks to the work of the group.”

A way to save rainwater

After the drought, the group came together to agree on what their community needed. They decided to ask CAFOD for a water tank to catch rainwater.

With money raised through our East Africa Crisis appeal, local water experts were able to help them get their tank. Now the women and their families can store enough water to see them through when there aren’t enough rainy days.

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