"Community Currencies have enabled food insecure communities to sustainably feed themselves post Red Cross support" - Mwanamuna Swale
Grassroots Economics has had the pleasure of working with Mwanamuna for the last 8 years across the Kinango sub-county. Red Cross had been engaged in a food insecurity relief program that involved paying groups of farmers to collectively farm in a Cash Transfer Program. For years Mwanamuna trained these groups of over 4000 farmers in the area and saw increased harvests and communal support.
While this program brought people together and provided years of needed food support, when the program funding from WFP began to run out Red Cross' ability to pay these farmers was coming to and end. They saw the need for a transition toward community self-financing and the communities led the way. One Mwanamuna's farming groups, the Miyani FDP (Food Distribution Point) Group began to adopt a method that was going on elsewhere on the coast of Kenya.
They created their own Community Currency.
Using a cooperative maize mill as focal point they began to issue vouchers for maize milling to community members to pay for the collective farming work. These vouchers began to circulate more and more while being accepted at more and more shops, schools, salons and so on, until they began to act as a community currency.
In late 2018 they replaced their paper vouchers for a feature phone based system that enabled their community currency to spread to the 20 neighboring villages!
Today there are over 2000 users in the Kinango area using community currencies to trade with eachother for their basic needs. Users like Kwekwe (see photo), who runs her family business selling chapatis and the okra that her husband grows on their family land. National and community currency that she does not spend on basic needs is saved in the weekly chama (savings group) meetings.
Kwekwe can now feed her family and take part in communal activities post Red Cross Cash Transfer Programming even when there are little Kenyan Shillings and ongoing insecure conditions.
We're so proud to support this community driven development!