Located in Western Kenya, Sauri was the first Millennium Village (MV) to see the light in 2005. Five years on, the project area has grown to nearly 70,000 people and has registered numerous successes in its multi-sectoral approach.
The MV team and the community celebrated this at the inauguration of new classrooms at the end of October 2010.
It was pomp and color at Uyonga primary school, with music filling the air. What was previously all mud walled with no desks, windows or doors, boasts now four blocks of permanent buildings courtesy of the community, the government and the Millennium Villages Project. In five years, 50 classrooms were constructed in 28 of the 33 primary schools and handed over to the community who is now maintaining them.
As the song goes: ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one, and you will be surprised what the Lord has done for you.’ That day, the project was counting some of the achievements:
- Environment: the Project received a UN certificate of outstanding performance in the Plant for the planet: Billion Tree Campaign. Indeed the tree cover in the area has improved with over 2.7 million trees planted. As a result, one of the environment staff seconded from the government was promoted from Division to District Forest Officer. This puts him in a better position to scale up the environment interventions to the entire Gem district.
Business enterprise: 315 fish ponds were dug in the area. This has gone a long way in improving the nutritional status of the community and household incomes. Farmers have realized the importance of diversifying from traditional maize and beans crops to high value enterprises like horticulture, fish farming, beekeeping, and off farm businesses.
- Infrastructure: the national grid was extended to 25 institutions and 60 homesteads. The proportion of households owning a mobile phone has increased four-fold, and more than 140 houses were constructed for vulnerable families.
- Education: Phase I saw the successful introduction of school meals program for 20,500 pupils in 33 establishments. Attendance stands at 98%. More than 70 children have received bursaries for post primary education and 2,359 girls benefitted from sanitary towels. Nyamninia primary was awarded a certificate of best school in the District during the World Food Day national celebrations.
Health: five facilities were constructed and four existing ones refurbished. The presence of 108 community health workers led to an increase in health seeking behavior among residents. 48,000 bed nets were distributed to fight malaria and 5,000 patients were put on antiretrovirals.
Agriculture: maize yield increased from 1.9 to 5 tons/ha. Farmers are now shifting to high value crops. Only 4% of children under 2 years are underweight. Stunting has reduced by 39%.
- Water and sanitation: 246 water-protected springs and 10 boreholes were constructed. Rain water harvesting was installed in 31 schools and 9 health facilities.