The wetlands of Dunga on the shores of Lake Victoria, Kenya have fantastic natural wealth. Yet these lands are also rife with conflicts from some of the very animals that make the area so unique. Animals such as the hippopotamus compete with human settlement and often raid and destroy crops, leading to local retaliation. CREE’s support of leader Leo Akwany has led to a creative farmer-led initiative that seeks to improve crop yields on select farms in the Dunga Wetlands of Lake Victoria, Kenya. Through eco-san toilet technology, which utilizes human waste as a fertilizer, farmers can grow more agricultural crops in less space, preventing the need for further colonization of land near wetlands and hippo habitat, and reducing villager’s clashes with the hippo.
Starting work with just family in 2009, CREE funding helped Leo to establish a track of success and garnered the interest of 3 additional households to work with over the subsequent years. Shortly after, CREE helped Leo inspire other scientists and found EcoFinder Kenya. CREE has provided technical support to EcoFinder, connecting it with new foundations, technical resources on green enterprise and agriculture, as well as tapped into US markets through crowdfunding to enable this newly formed institution to grow. EcoFinder has been very successful to date, and this organizational growth is exactly the type of product CREE hopes to create long-term from communities it works with.
Now with larger-scale support from the MacArthur Foundation, CREE is supporting Leo and Ecofinder in expanding new environmentally friendly enterprise. This will assist interested households to build 45 eco- san toilets, 15 biogas digesters, 600 solar lamps 600 efficient cook stoves. Community attitudinal surveys, state of the wetland reports, and extensive radio and theater awareness activities will also be undertaken.
But this all started small, from when CREE provided an eco-san toilet for the Otieno family (pictured below) – consisting of 9 people across 3 generations. Staff consulted with the community, which determined through a democratic process that the Otienos would make good use of this technology. In fact, the Otieno family itself has volunteered to contribute 10% of the cost. This community led decision-making process is exactly how CREE prefers to make use of funds as we scale up.