BARINGO, Kenya, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- When hunger hits homes, women in Kenyan communities often carry the greater burden of feeding the family.
But for the women in Marigat area of Baringo County in the Rift Valley region, it's not just food scarcity that troubles them; poverty and security of their investments come as added burden.
However, they have learnt ways to go about the problems and their solution is keeping bee.
Christine Lewatachum is the vice chairperson of the Sinyati Women Group which was formed mainly to eliminate hunger and poverty from their households.
"We wanted to overcome the impact of cattle rustling in this place," she said.
Some parts of Baringo County including Marigat have for many years been ridden with cattle rustling in which thousands of cows and goats are stolen leaving families in desperation.
Residents here primarily depend on livestock for a livelihood. But it is the security challenge that gave the women an idea in the form of a solution to their problems.
"We could sleep hungry. Totally hungry because there was absolutely nothing to feed on," indicated Josephine Lemangi, a member.
With the support of their husbands, the 14 women started rearing bees six years ago and overtime they have progressed to become successful businesswomen able to support their families.
They have six products to their name derived from the bees namely honey, bees wax, propolis, royal jelly, bee pollen and bee suits.
The price for honey ranges from 0.5 U.S. dollars to five dollars depending on the size.
They make candles, body cream and soap from bees wax.
A kilogram of the candles goes for six dollars. The soap is sold in pieces of 0.5 dollars and one dollar respectively. While a 100g of body cream sells at two dollars and 0.5 dollars for a 50g bottle.
"We are using these products and we are very healthy. Look at our skins, they are very smooth," said the vice chair with cordial gestures.
They use propolis to produce a medicine called propolis tincture used to treat arthritis, allergy or injury. A 30ml sells at three dollars.
"Our lives have totally changed. We can now feed our children, pay their fees and meet our individual needs too," said Lewatachum.
To harvest the honey they use the bee suits made from fiber sacks. A complete set include a trouser and a long sleeved top with a head cover. They sell a piece at 10 dollars.
They say they have a big local market as the people have continued to appreciate their work and what they offer.
Instead of sharing out the profits, the women pump them into the group as savings through table banking and members can borrow to boost their individual ventures.
"If you borrow 20 dollars you return with extra two dollars. Most of our members are using the money to start or expand their businesses," explained the vice chair.
"We have those who have started kitchen gardens and others have gone into rearing poultry." The members also buy honey from other women to meet their demands.
"It is a good thing to see women do something to escape from hunger. If you saw us in the previous years we were looking so pale and malnourished because of hunger. We are happy now we have food for our families," said the vice chair.
The women have made progress in fighting hunger and poverty within an area characterized with high levels of food scarcity due to its semi-arid feature, attracting low levels of rainfall.
Currently, at least 1.3 million people are suffering from hunger in the North Eastern and Coastal regions with the government seeking for ways to sufficiently meet their dietary needs.
In the recent years, there have been increased efforts from the government and development partners to actively involve women in food production through facilitating their access to credit, agricultural information and technology.
The country has established Uwezo Fund, Women Enterprise Fund and Youth Development Enterprise Fund from which women aged both below and above 35 can access finance to start or boost their businesses.
Women are championed to be critical pillars to eradicating poverty and food insecurity especially in the developing nations where Food and Agriculture Organization says their involvement can increase food productivity by up 30 percent annually.