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The Ohala Project

Christian Alliance is leading a long-term, collaborative effort to lift communities in Kenya’s Lake Region out of poverty in one generation.


OCT 2022

While adopting a business-led strategy, the OHALA initiative recognizes that poverty is much more than an economic issue; it is a social, psychological, political and spiritual issue that needs to be confronted in all these dimensions.
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Poverty is a societal problem on which most people have some opinion, but one whose solution has proven to be as elusive as its definition.  The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in its definition of poverty, talks about “a denial of choices and opportunities for living a tolerable life.” The World Bank is a bit more mechanical, defining a poor person as one whose consumption or income level falls below some predefined minimum, which is usually identified as the “poverty line.” Other often-used terms that attempt to stratify the poor are “absolute poverty,” “relative poverty,” and “the poorest of the poor” or “the bottom of the Pyramid”.

In the context of this initiative, the “Lake Region” refers to the Western Kenya counties that straddles Lake Victoria.   With nearly 70% of the region’s population living in rural settings, it would seem reasonable to conclude that any serious attempt at improving economic livelihoods in the near term must be closely linked to agriculture.

Unfortunately, the development of agriculture in the region has been impeded by many challenges. A large proportion of the residents have only known farming as a subsistence activity and do not have a commercial orientation nor the skills to manage their farms as business enterprises.

In addition, over the past three decades the region has suffered collapse of agro-industries, notably sugar, textile and fishing, which had provided direct and indirect employment for thousands of people.  

There are varied and sometimes conflicting explanations for these failures, but the effect is that the region today faces multiple impediments to its economic revival. Massive unemployment, plummeting education standards and widespread health challenges relegate many residents to a life of deprivation and hopelessness.

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