A-maize-ing Grace

LivelihoodsEnvironment and climate changeFarmingKenya

Grace Kamau lives in the shadow of the Kiambere Dam, which supplies electricity to the Kenyan National Grid. This dam is symbolic of the country’s ambition, modernity and development. But there’s another side to Kenya.

Despite living next to the dam, Grace* has no electricity. Or running water. And, until recently, she didn’t have any hope.

Kenya is one of the most unequal countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with 42 per cent of its population living below the poverty line. It is also in the grip of a catastrophic drought. However, Tearfund’s local partners are working alongside communities to ensure that they can thrive, despite these challenging circumstances.

Grace, her husband and her four children live in a small village close to the dam. The last time it rained here was two years ago.

The only source of water near the village is a seasonal river. It lasts only three months after a rainy season, then dries up for up to four months before the onset of the next rainy season.

Woman stands in a field of maize

Ripple effects
Grace would walk two kilometres every day to fetch 50 litres of water from the river. The women would fight among themselves for the best watering points. This left her physically and emotionally drained.

But it wasn’t just Grace that was struggling. All the family had to eat was Ugali, which is little more than smashed maize flour. As a result, the whole family’s health suffered.

‘My children would be frequently sick,’ Grace says. ‘The hospital is seven kilometres away – we had to walk as the transport then was not reliable.’

These issues also affected Grace’s spiritual life: ‘My church contributions were very low, and I was always late. I didn’t go to church regularly and I was neither interested nor motivated.’

A new start
Tearfund’s local partner visited Grace’s village and, working with the church, identified the problems facing the community and how they could use their own resources to solve them.

After these workshops, the church gathered all the villagers together to dig trenches for water pipes. This significantly reduced the time Grace spent on fetching water, consequently improving her health. Her livestock also had access to clean water for the first time.

Inspired by the workshops, Grace purchased a hybrid variety of maize, which would grow better in the harsh climate. She also diversified her crop by planting different types of crops and vegetables.

‘God blessed me to increase the harvest from one bag to five bags of maize; as well as two bags of cow peas and eight kilograms of green grams,’ Grace tells us, ‘Thankfully as a family we are now food secure.’

Amply supplied
From being in a place of spiritual darkness, Grace now attends church regularly, and is always the first to arrive for the service. ‘I would like to continue attending the workshops so that I can keep earning more and be able to give more to the church,’ she says.

Grace has plans to increase her poultry capacity from 16 to more than 100 birds; and goats from the current seven to 15. She also wants to plant sunflowers, incorporate the use of organic fertilisers in all her crops, and build a well.

‘Life before the workshops was not good, as I did not know where to get finances, but afterwards we are amply supplied.’ Praise God for this wonderful transformation.


  • Pray that the drought currently devastating East Africa comes to an end; that the rains will fall where they’re needed, so that crops can grow and people and livestock will have enough to eat and drink.
  • Pray for the nation of Kenya, that progress will be made in development and reducing the inequality in the country. In particular, please pray for the presidential elections on October 26th – that they will be peaceful and that the winner will govern wisely and fairly.
  • Thank God for the work of our partners in Kenya, and for projects such as the one that Grace and her village benefited from.

*Name changed to protect identity