Overcoming poverty in the Drylands of Africa

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In the arid and semi-arid regions of northern Kenya, pastoral families live in huts with no running water or electricity, miles away from the nearest trading post, paved road, public transport, school or health centre. Livestock is the primary source of income and the men travel far away with their herds for months at a time in search of scarce water and vegetation. The women are left behind, trapped in extreme poverty and chronic food insecurity. We’re supporting BOMA’s high-impact poverty graduation programme to lift 500,000 ultra-poor women and children “out of poverty”.

Duration
2019-2021
challenge
Women’s Social and Economic Development
country
Kenya
partner

Context

Northern Kenya’s arid and semi-arid regions are home to some of the world’s deepest, most persistent pockets of extreme poverty and food insecurity. Roughly eight out of every 10 inhabitants in Turkana, Mandera, Wajir and Marsabit Counties live below the poverty line.

Livestock, the primary source of income in these regions, is under threat due to repeated cycles of severe drought and conflict over dwindling grazing lands and water resources.

While the men are forced to travel far away from home with their herds in search of water and vegetation, the poorest women in these villages survive hand-to-mouth and day-to-day, earning a few coins through menial labour, begging credit from shopkeepers and waiting for deliveries of humanitarian food aid.

Action

BOMA’s poverty graduation programme helps ultra-poor women start and build businesses and saving groups, increase their household financial and food security, invest in their children’s health and education and gain increased voice, choice and agency in their households and communities.

BOMA’s two-year poverty graduation model gives ultra-poor women:

  • seed capital to launch small 3-women businesses
  • two years of hands-on training and mentoring in business skills and financial literacy
  • membership of savings groups whose members meet  monthly to deposit and withdraw savings and disburse and repay loans
  • market linkages and access to formal financial services.

The profits from each business provide a new and diversified income, while the personal and business savings help the women to manage their cash flow for daily needs and to plan for future expenses, such as school fees and medical care, as well as to respond to shocks like drought and emergencies. By replacing aid with income and savings, BOMA gives women independence, choice and increased voice.

Expected results

Since 2009, BOMA has helped over 30,300 women establish 10,200 businesses and 1,300 saving groups across six counties in Kenya and the Karamoja region of Uganda.

BOMA’s impact is transformative. The positive changes catalysed by BOMA include a 147% increase in household income, 1,400% increase in savings, 258% increase in annual medical expenditure and 63% increase in education spending. Moreover, these changes continue - and more importantly increase - three and four years after graduation from the programme.

BOMA’s goal is to enrol over 165,000 women and support over 830,000 children by 2022. We’re helping BOMA in this critical phase to maintain momentum and scale up the programme.

Long-term strategy

BOMA plans to achieve its goal of enrolling over 165,000 women and supporting over 830,000 children by 2022 through direct implementation, strategic partnerships with other NGOs and government adoption of their graduation approach in the social protection system.