Turkey’s state-run aid agency has been on the front lines in fighting poverty in Kenya and distributing aid to millions who need it on the African continent.
Kenya has benefitted from numerous Turkish aid programs since the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) started operations there in 2012.
As the world marks International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on Oct. 17, TIKA’s poverty eradication projects have had a ripple effect, touching those who most need it and it is spreading like wildlife throughout communities.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Eyup Yavuz Umutlu, TIKA’s coordinator in Nairobi, discussed the agency’s long-term vision in Kenya and how Turkey is focused on eradicating poverty in the country with a focus on improving living conditions for impoverished Kenyans.
Umutlu defines poverty as “the situation of not having income to meet most or all of your daily needs. I think lack of some public services … for example in health, in education or other social services.”
He said nearly all TIKA projects support the eradication of poverty in many sectors such as health, education, agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, with many livelihood projects.
This year, in Lamu County along the Kenyan coast, TIKA donated high-powered boat engines to fishermen in one project.
“They can put these engines to their dhows and they can go to much more economical places in the deep sea easily and they can fish much more than before,” said Umutlu, adding that fishermen households will benefit from the project.
He said TIKA also set up four production units for women in Marsabit County to offer employment.
“This is another sustainable livelihood project for us,” he said -- one is a tailoring production unit, one handicraft and two beadwork production units.
TIKA has also rolled out an improved livelihoods project through the production of organic seaweed fertilizer for communities living along the coast.
“This is one of the most exciting projects for us because we are establishing a production unit,” he said. “People will get the seaweed from the ocean and that way they clean the coast and they use this seaweed for making organic fertilizer.”
TIKA has drilled boreholes across the country to help people access water which is a basic need.
“For example, in Kajiado, we implemented this project and nearly 3,000 residents are benefitting from one borehole,” he said.
Umutlu said that in the last three years, Turkey, through TIKA, has organized several medical camps across Kenya benefiting thousands of marginalized residents to access health care.
“In these medical camps, there are free checkups, surgeries, provision of prescribed medication and we conducted medical camps of Computed Tomography (CT) scans, dentistry, gynecology, urology, pediatrics and general surgery areas,” said Umutlu, noting the health of an individual is linked to poverty.
Turkey also donated ambulances and medical equipment to health care units and furnished and renovated schools to enable residents to access good public services.
“At TIKA, our major goal is poverty eradication in Africa … especially in our income-generating projects, we try to teach how to fish rather than give fish … instead of food distribution we try and focus on income-generating projects,” he said.
He added that TIKA tries “to support people if they lack equipment … we are supporting them with that equipment. In the case of training, also, we are supporting them with training even in some projects, we try and connect them to the markets, It could be in Kenya or outside of Kenya, it is one of the most important things for the real solution of poverty -- teaching how to fish rather than giving the fish.”
TIKA donated equipment to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) last year to boost food security in western Kenya and support agriculture which is the backbone of the Kenyan economy.
Donations are part of TIKA’s Sustainable Organic Livelihoods Enhancement Program (SOLEP), which aims to end hunger by achieving food security, improved nutrition and promoting sustainable goals in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on agriculture and zero hunger.
TIKA also helped the Lessos Farmers’ Cooperative Society in Nandi County by providing modern, critical Turkish machinery for improved silage production to provide quality feed for livestock, in turn establishing a more sustainable feeding cycle. The farm equipment, which is now aiding hundreds in the community, is worth $86,000.
Turkey has also been on the front lines to set Kenyan farmers on the path to beekeeping profits with beehives donations.
The hives can produce up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of honey per harvest, which can be sold for around 800 Kenyan shillings ($8) a kilogram. Most farmers harvest the hives four times a year, providing up to 64,000 shillings ($592) per hive annually.
Other East African countries have also been receiving similar aid from Turkey from local TIKA offices, which has changed the lives of millions of people.