Factors affecting sustainability of community food security projects in Kiambu County, Kenya
© Wabwoba and Wakhungu; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Received: 6 January 2013
Accepted: 15 May 2013
Published: 24 June 2013
Kenya is one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that is not able to feed its population sufficiently and it, therefore, relies on outside assistance. Many food security projects have been funded by both the Kenyan government and other development partners in an effort to mitigate against food insecurity. Unfortunately, as revealed by assessment reports, such projects leave little impact after the end of funding.
Context and purpose of the study
This study evaluated factors affecting the sustainability of community food security projects funded by various organizations between 2005 and 2009 in the Karai and Ndeiya divisions of Kiambu County, Kenya. This study was necessary because among the literature reviewed, no other study had been done on the sustainability of community food security projects. An evaluation research design was adopted and a purposive sampling method was used to select key informants from stakeholder organizations and project groups. Data were collected using face-to-face interviews with ten key informants (community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, financial institutions and the government of Kenya) and focus group discussions with twenty groups (ten women’s groups, four men’s groups and six mixed groups) that had benefitted from the funded projects. The data collected were analyzed using the chi-square test at the 95% confidence interval level.
Results and main findings
The findings revealed that the sustainability of community food security projects is affected by group members’ participation, rainfall patterns, leadership, management and funding levels.
Conclusions and recommendations
Based on the outcome of the study, we conclude that food security projects are not sustainable. The recommendation is that group members (the beneficiaries) must participate in project planning and implementation for purposes of ownership and sustainability. Farmers need to be empowered with knowledge on irrigation and off-season intensive farming of high-value crops. We are very optimistic that this recommendation will be useful for program planners, donors, policymakers, implementers and stakeholders in project design and for funding sustainable community food projects. A further study should be done on the role of stakeholders in project sustainability.
Over the years, the government of Kenya has invested in community food security projects as a way of helping local people improve their own lives and livelihoods. A number of communities in Kenya have been given grants and technical support by both local and international donors, with the intention of helping them combat food insecurity and reduce poverty . A study carried out in 2007 revealed that all the 15 development partners who operated in Kiambu County targeted rural community food security projects . Such donors included community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, financial institutions, the government of Kenya and other private organizations . A total of 536 groups were funded between 2005 and 2009 by various organizations . The report further revealed that some community projects were funded by as many as five donors during the same period.
Projects are intended to produce benefits that continue after some specified period of time. The goal of development assistance is to improve the quality of life and increase incomes. However, many projects, including those undertaken by international development organizations, fail to fulfill these objectives . An impact assessment on community-funded projects showed that only 5 out of 36 groups funded in 2007 by NjaaMarufuku Kenya (NMK) were partially active, while the rest had become defunct and could not be traced after cessation of funding . Despite the many funded food security projects in Kiambu County, there is persistent food insecurity among the rural communities . The residents of Kiambu West (Kikuyuand Limuru) have high rates of malnutrition due to food insecurity  and yet Kiambu County has the largest number of community food security funded projects in Kenya . The purpose of this research was to examine the factors that could be responsible for community projects not continuing to achieve their objectives and, therefore, forthe persistent food insecurity even among the funded groups.
Food security projects that operate in the county funded through government departments include:NMK , the Arid Lands Resource Management Project , the Total War AgainstAids Project  and the Community Based Nutrition Program . Most of these projects are concentrated in the Karai and Ndeiya divisions, which have a high incidence of malnutrition and food insecurity . The study population comprised community groups, opinion leaders, non-governmental organizations, faith-based organizations and Kenyan governmentheads of departments that were involved in food security projects in Kiambu West (Karai and Ndeiya).
Community groups from Karai and Ndeiya divisions, Kiambu County, Kenya
Names of groups
Purposive and simple random
Thigio, Tiekumu, Nderu, NdiuniKarai, Mwireri, Nyathuna,, Ruku, Bathoma, Karii
Purposive and simple random
Ikaitano, Gatune, Nachu, Rusingiti
Self-helpgroup (mixed gender)
Purposive and simple random
Renguti, Mwirimiri, jashoMukawa, Karisi, Makerecha
Results and discussions
Group activities implemented by members
Main activity of members of groups in Kiambu County, Kenya
Functions of group members in sustaining group projects
Factors affecting sustainability of food security projects in Kiambu County
Factors affecting the sustainability of food security projects in Kiambu County, Kenya
Level of effect
Highest effect %
Higher effect %
High effect %
Low effect %
No effect %
Level of funding
Lack of knowledge and skills
Land tenure and gender
Collaborators and stakeholders
Management and leadership
Group members’ participation
Conclusions and recommendations
Based on the findings from the study, the most significant factors affecting the sustainability of community food security projects in Kiambu County are: group members’ participation, rainfall patterns, land tenure and gender, level of funds allocated to the project and the individual activities undertaken by members.
The study recommends that for Kenyan communities to enjoy food security through community projects, the following measures should be adopted: involve group members in project design, implementation,resource contribution, monitoring and evaluation, to ensure ownership and hence sustainability.
We thank the Ministry of Agriculture staff in Kikuyu and Limuru, especially the District Agricultural Officer, Lucy Waweru, for allowing use of the office computers and printers, andthe divisional staff, H Muchui and J Njoroge, for assisting in collecting data in the Karai and Ndeiya divisions, respectively. Special thanks to our supervisors, Professor Jacob W Wakhungu and Dr Stanley Omuterema, who greatly sacrificed their time in providing guidance while developing this paper. Finally, thanks to Martin Kasina for analyzing the data.
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