Monday, November 13, 2006 - 10:10 AM

Sauri, Kenya: the First Millennium Village.

Patrick Mutuo, Earth Institute at Columbia Univ, ICRAF-Kisumu Office, Kisumu, Kenya

Sauri Sub-location in Siaya District, Nyanza Province near Lake Victoria in Kenya was the first Millennium Village. It consists of ten villages in an area of 8 km2, with a population of 5,500 in 975 households. The area is characterized by hunger periods that occur for 3-7 months annually. Sixty-four per cent of the population lives in conditions below the poverty line (income less than $1 per day). An estimated 20% or more of the adult population is infected with HIV; malaria is a constant burden (over 40% prevalence); and before initiation of the Millennium Villages Project there was no health clinic or electricity, and water came from unprotected springs and waterways. The project was initiated in Late 2004 to support the community of Sauri to achieve the MDGs in 5 years. Principles that the project employs are: (1) participation and cost sharing; (2) community/government relations and leadership; (3) community empowerment; and (4) long-term investments. During year one in Sauri, the village Agricultural Committee developed a specific farm input strategy that combined the planting of hybrid maize seeds with mineral fertilizers and nitrogen-fixing trees. A mass extension and training program, together with a good rainfall, allowed Sauri residents to achieve an average maize yield of 4.9 tons per hectare in the 2005 long rainy season. Those farmers who accepted farm inputs agreed to provide 10 percent of their surplus to the school meals program in Sauri, feeding over 1,500 children in the 2005-6 school year. The community also built a health clinic, which is fully operational, and all people in the village are sleeping under long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed nets to fight malaria. Water springs and roof catchment water tanks have been constructed in several locations within Sauri for provision of clean water within short distances.