- As the drought bites, the road ahead looks longer than ever for Turkana: some 92 percent of its 1.4 million people live below the poverty line and only a fifth know how to read and write, a figure four times lower than the national average.
Friends of Turkana is a secular not for profit focused on encouraging and supporting programs that create opportunities for self-sufficiency in one of the most impoverished regions in the world, an area that is disproportionally affected by climate change with more frequent and longer droughts. The charity focuses in particular on agricultural and water programs to enable the people of Turkana to provide for themselves the most basic of human needs, food and water. One of Friends of Turkana’s agricultural projects, which in the midst of the Great Drought of the Horn of Africa, enabled a group of women to move from dependency to food self-sufficiency (in partnership with Ikal Angelei and the Turkana Basin Institute), was shown in a PBS and National Geographic production on Turkana (http://www.pbs.org/programs/bones-turkana/).
Roger Thurow joined the Chicago Council on Global Affairs as a senior fellow on global food and agriculture after working three decades at The Wall Street Journal.
In 2003, he and Journal colleague Scott Kilman wrote a series of stories on famine in Africa that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. Their reporting on humanitarian and development issues was also honored by the United Nations. Thurow and Kilman are authors of the book ENOUGH: Why the World’s Poorest Starve in an Age of Plenty. In 2009, they were awarded Action Against Hunger’s Humanitarian Award.
Thurow’s book, The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, was published in May 2012. Thurow’s latest book, The First 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – published in 2016 tells the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.
Thurow is an expert on agricultural development and speaks often on high-visibility platforms related to nutrition, hunger, and agriculture in the United States, Europe, and Africa. In 2013, he spoke about the power smallholder farmers have in Africa at a TedxChange Seattle event hosted by Melinda Gates.
2015 was a very productive and rewarding year for Friends of Turkana, as we succeeded in funding the following projects:
The purchase of a tractor, plow, and trailer to be used in the vicinity of the capital city of Lodwar. With its consistent climate and wealth of sunshine, it is notunusual to be able to realize three crops each year. A principal obstacle is the laborious tasking of clearing and preparing the soil by hand. The use of a tractor will of course expedite that work, making it more likely that farms will see a greater yield.
The pending installation of a borehole, solar pumping, and two giant greenhouses at Kakuma Mission Hospital, located adjacent to the Kakuma refugee camp, with a present population of 185,000 and rising. There are only 3 medical facilities in the Kakuma area, a hospital in the refugee camp, a small private clinic in town, and Kakuma Hospital. The demands on the Hospital are obviously great, yet the Hospital receives water from the town only 2 days a week, and has no source for fresh produce. This planned borehold and greenhouses will change that and ease the suffereing and improve the care of the many patients who are treated there.
Supplied seeds, tools, supplies, and farm animals to a community at Kangalita. The village’s fields were destroyed in flooding from the adjacent Torkwil River, and missed several growing seasons as necessary repairs were made. Our grant will enable the village – which has been farming for many years – to make up for lost time, and the tools – and access to the tractor! – will mean they will become more productive.
None of that would be have been possible without your support.
In 2016 we would like to support a single project: The installation of solar pumping and gardens near a village located in Sopel, an hour outside of Lodwar. We are particularly attracted to this investment opportunity. A decade or so ago, we were asked by the villagers to drill a borehole. In the years since, we have regularly visited the well and spoke with local villagers. The well has dramatically changed their lives, especially those of the women and girls, who no longer have to journey miles each day to locate and return with water, a task which took hours and had to be repeated every day. It was also dangerous, as the girls were often sent down deep holes dug in riverbeds, which collapsed from time to time. Now, they have time to address matters that they previously had to ignore. They also report that their general levels of health have improved.
On one of our last trips the women at Sopel asked if we would install a garden so they could further improve their children’s health.
This is precisely the kind of request which we favor: A project which was conceived by the local community, addressing an issue known best to them. It is also, the natural outgrowth of the prior support we provided.
The total budget, including construction, supplies, training etc., is about $55,000. We will work with the village to see if we can manage the expenses somewhat, but we are hopeful that you will help us meet a goal of $50,000.
We recognize that you all receive many appeals from worthy causes, and we are humbled at your continued trust and confidence, for which we are grateful.
Board of Directors
Friends of Turkana
FoT Breaking News!
June 26, 2105: FOT is pleased to announce that the O'Toole Foundation has just approved a 3 year grant totalling $750,000 for the benefit of the Diocese of Lodwar, Turkana, to finance construction of a new boys' secondary school and junior seminary in Lodwar. FOT was instrumental in preparing and submitting the grant proposal and will play a role monitoring construction and reporting on progress.
July 1, 2015: Friends of Turkana is pleased to announce that it has financed the purchase of a tractor and trailer - (pictured at right) - which is to be used to ease the burdens faced by farming communities, who currently till the hard, arid and rocky soil using sticks or rudimentary hoes. The tractor will be used in a number of communities in and around Lodwar, and will make an enormous difference in terms of assuring a ready supply of fresh produce, as well as supply a source of income through sales."
July 3, 2015: Friends of Turkana today announced the funding of the purchase of supplies, including tools, seeds, fertilizer, and farm animals, to be delivered to Edukuroit, a farming community on the outskirts of Lodwar, the capital of Turkana. Eduduroit has a history of farming, but its lands were devastated in flooding, causing the loss of a growing season and consequent lack of food and produce for sale. The supplies will allow the community to make up for such losses and enable them to increase productivity and yield. as well as allow for animal husbandry."