Since the inauguration of Change for Children in 2005, Africa Exchange has recognized that community capacity building lies at the heart of any successful transformational development initiative. The formation of community committees to initiate, monitor and evaluate progress at each of the established Integrated Child Development Centers has proven to be essential for their survival and proper functioning.
Recognizing our need to enhance and multiply this process in surrounding communities, David Harding of Water is Life introduced us to Tear Fund Kenya to facilitate training in the establishment of Self Help Groups (SHGs) at our project sites. Organized by Mark Okello, Change for Children coordinator, trainings brought together facilitators and key project staff from each ICDC unit for comprehensive trainings in 2016 and 2017. These trainings have to date resulted in the establishment of 15 SHGs associated with our 8 program locations.
A key component of SHGs are micro saving schemes controlled by group members to reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience. Extensive research from Tear Fund in East Africa shows that SHG establishment impacts communities in the following important ways: drought mitigation, food security, household economy, women’s empowerment, social development and community advocacy.
While we are still new at this, the SHG approach promises to be a foundational tool for decreasing the vulnerability of developing communities.