Kilisa Village Development community, a model for community participation


KVDC is becoming a model for community participation in development. The community has taken full leadership since theinitiation of the project and women play an active role. This   picture shows the Chairlady confidently highlighting the achievements to the visitors during the DANIDA site tour in September 2004. In her remarks the Chairlady, Ms Milka Mwaka, returned gratitude to Kilisa community for their support and to DANIDA for their financial and technical in-put and acknowledged continued support from the government officials. The Chairlady reported of having spent all the allocated funds and in accordance to the plans. “This would not have been achieved without the support of the community” she remarked. She thanked the Government for their continued recognition of the project and their support in seconding a teacher to the adult education program. She further indicated that, a KVDC community member had also volunteered to assist as a teacher in the adult education program.



One of the major concerns in the village is severe de-forestation and the associated lack of wood for construction and energy.De-forestation has turned Kilisa village into a brown dusty and unproductive village as a result of erosion among other factors. Search for firewood is increasingly taking more time today than in the past.In response, KVDC is committed to tree planting which will give the village a new look. The members of the committee who were trained on tree planting have taken the initiative to educate the community on the need to plant and care for the trees. They have trained others (including elders on tree planting).The community’s dream is to transform Kilisa village from a brown, heavily eroded and unproductive village (as shown in the Map   at the right end ) into one that is green, reasonably forested and productive (as shown in the Map below ).



Water harvesting:

According to the baseline study, lack of water is one of the chronic problems in Kilisa village. This is a result of frequent droughts, severe de-forestation and uncontrolled sand harvesting by communities upstream. The rivers are dry most of the year. One of KVDC’s developmental objectives is to ensure adequate water supply through improved reservation of water beds and harvesting. In this regard, KVDC has started by de-silting the only Dam in the village.The first clip of the picture above shows the dam before de-silting. The scene is that of severe deforestation around the Dam. With that scanty vegetation silting is inevitable. The elders remember Kilisa Dam as an area surrounded by thick grass and vegetation. At that time the dam held water through out the year. This is now history.KVDC is committed to reconstruct the areas and reclaim the lost scenery. The process has started with the de-silting of the Dam through community effort (contribution in labor as demonstrated in the second clip in the picture above) and grant from Church mission. The grant supported hire for a tractor. Through joint effort, the Dam de-silting was completed timely in September 2004, in good time for the rains.On the right, Villagers stand at the deepest point next to the flow pipe.This project gives hope to this child in the picture who at adulthood may enjoy a better environment than his parents if this dam will be protected from de-silting.The Dam is a great help to the elders whose tree nursery is by the Before de-silting Community at work at the dam After de-silting dam. The proximity will save them time and energy spent on drawing water from a distance source. As another approach to water harvesting, KVDC has sunk a shallow well and installed a hand pump with the assistance of SACDEF.The water is already being used for vegetable farming. The vegetables are sold to the community at a subsidized price. KVDC is beginning to realize one of its objectives, promotion of good nutrition and ensuring food security for their growth monitoring and feeding program. The project will, in addition,promote good nutrition in the greater community.This project has been inspirational to others. For instance, a villager who has a farm next to the well has replicated this community effort with very good results. A gain KVDC is realizing of its extended objective of stimulating individual effort.KVDC members have been trained on the construction of wells and installation of hand pumps. This expertise will be available to private individuals in Kilisa and the adjacent villages. KVDC, however, considers the expansion of well concept a short-term strategy. Their long term plan is to build gabions along perennial rivers (Tawa , Uaani and Thwake) that form three quarters of village borders as reflected in the map of “Kilisa in the future” above. Gabions will form subsurface dams, surface water reservoirs. These subsurface water reservoirs will ensure adequate water for the surrounding vegetation and also for large-scale irrigation along the rivers. Already KVDC is piloting this. With the support of partners in development KVDC has made a small dam in Tawa River and are now pumping water to the development site. This will accelerate development of the site-based activities.In addition, the gabions will hold lots of sand. Sand can be another source of income. Unlike the practice elsewhere, sand harvesting by KVDC will be controlled in-order to avoid the adverse effects of sand harvesting that has astated the environment in other parts of Machakos and Makueni district. KVDC suspect there is underground water that needs to be tapped. This will require technical expertise and equipment e.g. a grid. KVDC seeks partner in the expansion of this concept. This is seen as a great opportunity for income generation, such a grid could service adjacent communities at a subsidized fee.KVDC has developed a proposal on the concept on the Gabions construction and some of the members  of the community have been trained on gabion construction. Interested partners are invited to join the community in this effort.

Before de-Silting-------------------------Community at Work------------------------ After de-Silting


KVDC considers micro financing as one of the approaches for breaking the circle of poverty in Kilisa, a village experiencing frequent drought and poor food production. Very often villagers are ill prepared for

the next rain season. Some do not have the means to plough their farms and many do not have enough seeds let alone the right mixes of seeds. This situation is a major factor in maintaining vicious cycle of

poverty in the village.KVDC envisions a time when late preparation of farm and lack of seek will not be contributing factors to poverty in Kilisa village.To translate their vision into action, KVDC has started micro

financing to support the needy. Although on a small scale at the moment, the initiative exposes the committee to the basic principles of micro financing and the associated challenges.In this picture an elderly lady receives her loan in the presence of the local administrator, the Chief. KVDC encourages the involvement and presence of Government during the selection and eventual award of the loan.KVDC plans to expand on this initiative if their search for more support meets their expectation. In this regard, KVDC invites assistance from development partners.

Technical support:

The growth of KVDC has been fast in terms of partners and activities. As a result the committee is increasingly in need managerial and technical support. In this regard, consultations are at an advanced stage to have a US Peace Corps volunteer posted to Kilisa Project site to provide the desired technical baking to the community. This support will enhance KVDC capacity to develop proposal, market the proposals, implement, disseminate their best practices and write reports to their development partners. African Economic Foundation (AEF) recognizes KVDC’s efforts and the relevance to their mission and is therefore committed to assist KVDC achieve their goals. In the long term AEF wishes to assist KVDC develop into a demonstration site and a resource center for community based interventions in Kiteta location, Kisau division and Makueni district at large. With more support KVDC could one time be a Rural Development Research Center (RDRC), center of excellence and training for grass-root initiatives.

Join AEF effort ---Singularly or collectively. Together we can help KVDC make a difference in development at the grass  root level. It is at the grass root level where we ca make the greatest effort.


KVDC continues to receive distance technical backing from their Patrons Dr and Mrs Mwalali, members of the community, who in support of the community initiative donated a family trust land for construction of the KVDC complex. Although currently residing in the USA, they are regularly in touch with the community. Their role is to float ideas and as necessary guide the community in translating some of the ideas into proposals. When time allows they join the community in meeting their developments partners and more specifically in assisting the community in articulating their perceived problems, efforts and achievements in alleviating their problems. As necessary they support the community in detailing their future plans and assistance needs. The DANIDA tour of KVDC project in September 2004 was one event that coincided with the Patron’s visit to Kenya. He took time to join the community. In his remarks to the community, he congratulated the community for a job well done (above picture) and indicated that he was excited to see the KVDC dream of a complex site for development activities being realized. On behalf of the community he thanked CBNP for their support and requested further assistance, if the design of the next DANIDA program for assistance will allow.




In this picture Merete Lyngs, Chief Technical adviser - Community Capacity Support Program (CCSP) previously referred to as Community Based Nutrition Program (CBNP), greets the community during her September 2004 tour of DANIDA supported community programs in Makueni district. She classified KVDC project was one of the most successful of the DANIDA supported project in the area.She encouraged the Community to keep up the effort and develop KVDC into a model, a demonstration site for community participation in development.


Kilisa village before KVDC Initiative


Excited about this initiative, Dr Mwalali in 2002 visited the community to support the committee in emphasizing on the importance of tree planting. During the visit he distributed 200 eucalyptus seedlings to 200 individuals as a lasting memory of his message.On his recent visit to the village in September 2004, he was excited to see these trees mark many homesteads, again a sign of community commitment to their course. As a result of the this educational program the village has two main nurseries, one maintained by the KVDC members at the KVDC site while the other is maintained by the elderly folks next to the Kilisa Dam.The elders find a lot of excitement in this. It keeps them busy. In addition, the elders can now conceptualize the need for ensuring resources for the next generation. One of the best gifts the elders can offer to the youth is a culture of tree planting and healthy environment. In-order to get the youth involved,KVDC plans to set up a nursery for the youth. The Forestry department provides advice on the most suitable trees for the area.To maintain and/or accelerate the a-forestation process, KVDC committee plans to keep statistics on the numbers of trees planted by individuals and homesteads. Eventually, if resources avail, KVDC committee plans to reward the best effort by presenting a rotating Orange star, a Cup, a Flag or a torch for development and a token donation/grant to the individuals or Homestead (a donation is most welcome).Kilisa village is in Kiteta, a location known for citrus fruits farming. However the village has the least number of citrus trees per capita when compared to the rest of the location. KVDC therefore encourages Kilisa village before KVDC initiative Citrus tree nurseries as well as trees nurseries. Oranges and mangoes are the most popular fruits produced in Kiteta location. As such the nurseries have stepped up production of citrus fruits seedlings for planting by the members and also for income generation through sales to the neighboring populations. KVDC hopes that one-day, with the assistance of a interested partner, they will set up a citrus fruit processing plant. Processed of fruits will have high returns for the farmers in the location in terms of improved nutrition and high value for their efforts and produce.Africa Economic Foundation (AEF) consider KVDC dream of transforming their village achievable and therefore wishes to partner with KVDC in resource mobilization for this worth course. KVDC invites support from any development partners interested in a-forestation and improved environment at the grass root level.


Energy production: Biogas Plant:

KVDC is concerned about felling of trees and the scarcity of firewood, an issue that came up in their baseline study. In response KVDC has embarked on educating the community on alternate sources of energy.In this regard, KVDC has constructed a Biogas plant for demonstration and use as reflected in the following pictures.Visitors and development partners are always welcome to this demonstration plant. The pictures above were taken during the tour by DANIDA team in the company of government officials and KVDC patron.In the first clip in the picture, cow dug mixed with water and urine is received from the crow into the fermentation underground tank. The produced gas is guided to the second reservoir where it builds pressure ready for distribution (center clip). The pressurized gas is piped into the kitchen and the main house (light blue door) as in the third clip. It is exciting to see the blue flame at the kitchen and also in the main house of this homestead. Every homestead with a few cows or animals can generate biogas. With the right accessories the biogas can be used for cooking and lighting. KVDC promotes the use of biogas as a means for protecting the trees from destruction in search of firewood.For capacity building, some members of the community participated fully in the construction of this Biogas plant, On the Job Training (OJT). There is therefore capacity for expansion on the construction of Bio gas plants in the village if resources to buy materials could be mobilized in support of those financially underprivileged. While mobilizing funds for the community initiative, KVDC encourages financially capable individuals to consider and construct Biogas plants as a means of preserving wood energy, at homestead level.An alternative source of energy (other than wood) is the use of solar power. Some individuals have already installed solar power in their homes as seen in this modest homestead. Solar power has many uses depending on capacity of the solar panel and its accessories.The majority of the villagers however do not have the capacity to put up biogas plants nor solar in their homes.KVDC seeks partnership in expanding this initiative. The need is for material support since some villagers have been trained in the construction biogas plant while the community is prepared to provide the desired labor force. Use of alternative source of energy will protect the trees.