A rural road in Kitui County, Eastern Province, Kenya. Villages are remote and far from paved roads.
General village information:
- About 800 families live in a vilage. Which is more of a region than a population center.
- In Kitui, family members speak at least three languages, Kamba, Swahili and English.
- Schools: Most villages have a primary school and a local high school.
- Religion: Most people in rural areas practice christianity, islam and local religions. You will find churches and shrines around the village.
- Kitui town is the centre of the Kitui county government, Kenya.
- Medical: there is a general hospital in Kitui, a dispensary at some of the primary schools and traditional Kamba healers in the village.
There are shops that sell staples like bread, cornmeal and powdered milk. However, there is no bookshop or libraries in rural areas.
- The main economic way of life in the village is subsistence farming. Other work for pay is “jua kali” (Swahili for “hot sun work”)skilled or unskilled labor that means working under a hot sun, examples of it are masonry and fetching water.
Staple foods in this area are bananas, eggs, ugali (polenta made from finely ground white cornmeal), rice and sukuma wiki (collard greens). Other foods which are common include onions, tomatoes, chicken (kuku). In Kenya there is a swahili term “kienyeji” which means regional specialty. It varies from region to region based on what foods are readily available. The kienyeji for Kitui region is muthokoi (Maize mixed with beans and or beans or peas then boiled).
Challenges facing rural villages in Africa:
- The Covid-19 Pandemic school closures meant that some students will never complete school and those who resumed classes lag behind.
- High illiteracy level especially among women.
- A receding water table: walking around the village there are many dry wells.
- Deforestation: A growing population and cooking with charcoal has caused deforestation, which in turn allows soil erosion and a declining water table. Global climate change has aggravated the above: rainfall is not what it once was and the water table is not being replenished.
- Malaria: People are still getting infected and dying from Malaria. Charitable agencies occasionally have distributed nets but the methods used let many slip through the cracks. At this time no agency is working to distribute nets in the Mulundi area and you cannot buy nets outside of Nairobi.
- HIV/Aids: An estimate is that 25% of people in the village are HIV positive. This has resulted in orphans in a society that previously had none due to a strong extended family structure and love of children.
Hope for the Future – Education:
One of the most important ways to help the community is through education. By encouraging education, especially of young women the village can learn how to adapt to the changing environment. The students learn about diseases, like Malaria and AIDS, and how to prevent them leading to healthier lifestyles. Educated mothers take better care of their children and are able to teach them and help them with their studies; they also stand a better chance of making a living if widowed or abandoned.