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Komudei women’s group: Group member Elizabeth Apuw Mariao taking money for food she has sold from her market stall in Kakuma. Elizabeth explained how she became involved in business. ‘I used to fetch water for other women. I thought to myself, ‘I am like this woman’s mother, bringing her water. Why” I began saving 10 Sh from each 100 Sh that I earnt. When I had enough money I bought half a bag of beans and half a bag of maize. Then I said, ‘Young woman, now you can collect your own water.’

As well as pursuing individual activities such as selling food, the 59-member group secures a reliable income by renting houses built in their compound in Kakuma town. The fourteen buildings yield 10,000 Sh/month. This affords the group an independence which has been translated into an innovative development programme transcending the initial objective of improving the incomes of members. The group supports 136 orphans to attend primary and secondary schools, and has initiated a programme of engagement with refugees in Kakuma Camp to ease the tensions which exist between them and the host community.

Elizabeth: “Women can see further now, and can play a bigger part in family life. They can make a bigger contribution to their family’s welfare. I can go to look for jobs and provide food. But I will provide food only to the children if the man drinks and does nothing, does not contribute. He must contribute. They are also his children. The family budget should be put together from the mother, the father and the children. The father can bring sugar and tea leaves. The woman can provide maize flour. The children can bring firewood. That is a family budget, isn’t it’

No one individual can solve problems. When you involve your friends, then you can make progress. Then you have the strength to remove obstacles. When a man marries, all his friends support him (ie with gifts of animals to help meet bride-price) to make it a success. That is how it is with development. We have to support each other to make progress.”