Nyumbani Village is Kenya’s first sustainable HIV/AIDS community
Nyumbani‘s focus on innovative methods and self-sustaining systems means an environmentally and economically sound future is possible, even in the harshest of climates – even for the poorest of inhabitants.
Over the decades, a parched landscape and years of drought contributed widely to the poverty, poor health, and malnourishment endemic to the region even before the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Harnessing the power of the sun
Nyumbani Village is in a rural part of Kenya with no electricity. So turning to solar power was a natural solution, though difficult and expensive to accomplish. Solar power provides electricity to farm irrigation pumps and to the modern technology used for education, skills development (such as woodworking and metalsmithing), and life-saving health care.
Biogas tents capture methane gas from cow dung to power cook stoves.
Using the natural characteristics of the land to grow food and cash crops
Our farm models the permaculture method of farming, using innovative irrigation to allow indigenous maize, lentils, beans, and fruits to grow. Ten greenhouses and kitchen gardens supplement harvests. Fifty acres of sunflowers supply sunflower oil for cooking and biodiesel fuel. Livestock (fed with acadia pods grown at Nyumbani Village), farm-raised tilapia and free-range chickens help make protein available and plentiful.
Extra food is sold to help make Nyumbani Village self-sustaining, and as our production grows, surplus will help turn the village into a viable commercial enterprise.
Innovations in water supply and treatment
The village captures rainwater – cycled through a new filtration system – and recycles gray water. For farmland irrigation, we sank 12 shallow wells. And a simple, low-cost and low-maintainance sand dam refills after each rainfall, providing a clean local water supply for crops and animals – even during a drought.
Reforesting the land for biodiversity, water, and wood
Nyumbani Village initiated an aggressive reforestation plan to ultimately plant 300,000 indigenous Melia trees on 500 acres with a plan to harvest mature trees, turn the timbers into lumber at a Nyumbani sawmill, and make fine furniture at the Village for sale in Kenya. Melia trees are highly tolerant of heat, drought, and poor soil conditions, and their wood is a high-value commodity, very similar to teak and perfect for furniture making. And reforestation can gradually restore biodiversity to the region, making the land naturally more productive. As the forest matures, the amount of water in circulation will grow, changing the level of rainfall in the area.
Sustainability means looking ahead
Nyumbani Village aims to reduce the environmental degradation of the past, further our current goal of self-support, and allow our village to thrive and grow over the long term. It’s successful, and potentially is replicable in other parts of Africa and beyond.
Through sustainability, we are keeping an eye toward the future of Nyumbani children, our region and our planet.
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