Tangulbei Women Thrive through Agroecology, Financial Inclusion, and Education

In the arid and semi-arid landscapes of Tangulbei, Tiaty East, Baringo County, a remarkable story of resilience and transformation is unfolding. Supported by ActionAid Kenya through the Gender Responsive Alternatives to Climate Change (GRACC) Project, three groups of women are redefining their futures through innovative approaches to food production, financial empowerment, and community education.

Traditionally, the community in Tangulbei relied heavily on cattle rearing. However, the region’s susceptibility to banditry and the challenges of over-reliance on livestock spurred a shift towards agroecology. Embracing this climate-friendly method of food production, a group of women has become pioneers in sustainable farming. With the support of the GRACC project, these women received crucial information, seeds, and the construction of Slam dams for irrigation.

A visit to their farms reveals various crops: sorghum, millet, green grams, beans, maize, watermelon, and pawpaw. This diverse cultivation not only ensures food security but also provides nutritional sustenance. The women share the farm’s proceeds, serving as a model of success and inspiration for others. Their efforts are feeding families and preserving the environment for future generations.

“In this location, my people did not practice agriculture and only embraced cattle and goat keeping. Due to harsh climate conditions and banditry, we often lost our livestock. ActionAid trained our women’s group on growing crops that would endure harsh climate conditions. We are now practicing agriculture after being supported with seeds, slam dams, and information.” stated Lilian Jaki, Member of Oasis Women’s Group.

Lilian Jaki, Member of Oasis Women’s Group, stands proudly at their farm in Tangulbei.

“The growing of vegetables, fruits, and grains has helped us supplement what we get from livestock. We get food for basic consumption, boosting nutrition for kids, and the surplus is sold for the group’s income. Our group also engages in savings through our Village Loans and Savings Group.” added Elizabeth Cheretei, Member of Oasis Women’s Group.

In a second determined group called Checkpoint VSLA, which started in the year 2020, 21 women have discovered the power of collective savings and lending. In 2023, they shared dividends amounting to Ksh 641,000, a testament to their commitment and ingenuity. The name Checkpoint is drawn from the insecurity reality on the ground as the area served as a checkpoint for security personnel who used the locality to check every vehicle and person getting to the small town of Tangulbei, which is about 3 km away.

The Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) operates on a simple yet powerful principle, members contribute to a communal savings fund, which is then available for lending within the group. This financial support enables women to invest in income-generating projects, start businesses, or cover emergency expenses. The ripple effect of this initiative is profound, fostering economic independence and self-reliance among the women.

“Information on financial empowerment enabled us to start our VSLA, lifting us out of poverty thanks to ActionAid’s support through training and exchange visits. Poverty has been our greatest challenge, but with the VSLA, we have been able to uplift one another. I am able to support my husband in providing basic needs for our family, including paying school fees for our kids. The advantages associated with this VSLA have even seen my husband chip in by giving me money to increase my savings and shares.” said Mary Kiwanja, Member of Checkpoint VSLA.

Members of the Checkpoint VSLA Group engage in a savings and lending session, fostering financial empowerment.

“I lost my husband four years ago, and raising my kids became a challenge. Since joining the VSLA, I have been able to get information, and do menial jobs to earn income, which I save a little and borrow, proceeding to buy goats that I have sold and increased my shares in the VSLA. Through this, I am educating my children. The welfare within the VSLA also supports those who face emergencies.” shared Susan Losike.

Beyond agriculture and finance, another group of women is spearheading a crucial campaign against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). They are dedicated to educating the community about the harmful effects of FGM and advocating for girls’ rights to education.

Their efforts have gained significant traction, attracting allies such as cultural leaders, religious leaders, men, and boys challenging long-held beliefs. By fostering dialogue and changing perspectives, this group is creating a safer and more equitable environment for girls, ensuring they have the opportunity to stay in school and pursue their dreams.

“In my community, FGM means child marriages, teen pregnancies, and school dropouts. Child marriages lead to poor health for young mothers and perpetuate poverty as they cannot support their families and only depend on their struggling husbands. ActionAid has educated us on the evils of FGM, and with allies in the community, the fight against it is on. Despite backlash from those who haven’t agreed to end the vice, we are slowly winning them over.” stated Catherine Mata, Women and Girls Rights Champion in Kitailem.

Community members in Kitailem participate in a session on ending FGM, advocating for girls’ rights and promoting education.

“As young men, we were made to believe that you could only marry girls who are circumcised. But after learning the evils of FGM, I have become a champion of girls’ rights and speak to my fellow young men and our elders to support the fight to end FGM. Society is changing, and our young men are open to the idea of marrying girls who haven’t gone through FGM. This has lessened the pressure among girls, thinking that they can only get married in the future if they have undergone FGM. I believe we will one day win this war.” commented Shadrack Cheburet, Girls Rights Defender, Kitailem.

“I underwent FGM, and as a cultural norm, I had no option but to let my first girl also undergo it. But when I got into contact with people teaching us about the dangers of FGM, I got the courage to spare my other daughters from it. As a mother, I experienced challenges with FGM. I am now more informed and will always protect my girls. My husband has also supported my decision and allowed them to go to school and not get married. I believe that they will still get married despite not having undergone FGM because society has changed, and I see young men advocating for an end to FGM.” shared Cheptengor Nambili, FGM Survivor and Parent, Kitailem.

The initiatives by the three different groups of women showcase the true meaning of rooted resilience. Through agroecology, financial inclusion, and education, the women of Tangulbei are not only transforming their own lives but also creating a ripple effect of positive change throughout their community. With continued support and collaboration, their journey toward empowerment and sustainability shines as a beacon of hope for others facing similar challenges.

“Tiaty, Baringo County has long been associated with insecurity due to banditry, FGM, and climate shocks exacerbated by climate change. However, through our targeted interventions, supported by various stakeholders, we are changing this narrative. We are committed to empowering communities with essential information, skills, and financial support, enabling them to transform their lives and foster sustainable development.” stated Kitasi Wanga, Programme Manager – Resilient Livelihoods and Emergencies, ActionAid Kenya.

Kitasi Wanga, Programme Manager – Resilient Livelihoods and Emergencies at ActionAid Kenya, visits one of the agroecology farms managed by the Oasis Women’s Group in Tangulbei, Baringo County.

The Gender Responsive Alternatives to Climate Change (GRACC) Project is supported by the Australian Government through ActionAid Australia and the project is implemented in Kenya by ActionAid Kenya.


Author: Ezra Kiriago ,Communications Coordinator ActionAid Kenya.





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