Grow Ileho: A Participatory Development Initiative in Kenya


  • Currently has two projects:
  1. An agricultural initiative for dairy cattle in Ileho, Kenya
  2. Portable lending library in progress for the Turkana region

Grow Ileho is a locally run Kenyan agricultural initiative whose roots are in the principles of economic self-determination.
This is a personal story; one that started with my first visit to Kenya in 2004. Africa’s problems are well documented and complex; but I have always felt that Africa has the potential to be the last continent standing. It has beautiful land, amazingly resilient people, and community we can only be envious of. What is lacking is access to resources – education and money in particular. Those two things go together, one must have the education and knowledge to leverage resources to their highest and best use.
Grow Ileho is a demonstration project that evolved out of my master’s thesis on participatory development. I wrote, and believe, that no matter the difficulties – and there are challenges, to be sure – a successful development initiative in rural Kenya must be locally run and managed, with as little interference as possible from a sponsor. I went, surveyed over 400 people to ask their opinion on development issues, and wrote about the results. The first project was planned and executed with seed money from the Mission Committee at Northbrook Presbyterian Church in Beverly Hills, MI.
The NENO Group, the Kenyan “self-help” group that was chosen for this first project, researched greenhouse tomatoes, thought about chickens, and finally settled on a high quality Aryshire heifer and supporting services as their initial project. All are now pleased to report that the heifer is thriving, has regular veterinary visits, has both an acre of Napier grass and bagged feed, has unlimited access to clean water, and is expecting a calf in April or May. Upward and onward!
During this process, the NENO group wrote an excellent proposal, designed and revised their budget, sent regular reports and photos, and wrote about the challenges and pleasures of working on this project. They’re ready for the next one, and we are thinking about some crowdsource fundraising to finance them. Please feel free to write me and ask any questions you might have. I’ll be happy to answer them. I personally think one of the most important things we can do is provide access to clean water for more locations in Ileho; and the group agrees. This may be the next project so that they can expand the project sites; the one hard and fast rule that I had was that any project location had to have access to clean water. They are thinking about more Aryshire heifers, although the idea of goats has been floated as well. Thank you for reading this, and please see my photos from the Ileho region of Kenya here. On a less cheerful note, read “A Death in Kenya – Villance Libosho Lukhavi’s Story”
We want to hear from you! What are your thoughts on development in Kenya, or in Africa in general? @GrowIleho or visit us on Facebook


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