CES President’s Message

June 5, 2016 2:31 pm Published by

Creative Solutions to Reducing Poverty in Kenya



The world is in need of creative solutions for living together in a global setting. There’s just too much greed and hatred out there and we are all affected by it. CES Canada has quietly, steadily and purposefully created a lot of good will in a small rural area of Kenya known as Kakemega. Nothing the media cares to comment on; nevertheless, noteworthy and worthy of celebration.

Creative inspiration is the catalyst for new ideas and fresh ways of thinking. Solving problems like acute poverty and lack of access to education is not easy. They call for effort, collaboration and a passion that “will not let it go.” CES Canada believes its purpose is to transform an unacceptable reality. The answer is not in more money, although clearly it takes funding for students to attend secondary school. Solutions do exist however, that can help us harness our imagination and creativity in our work as agents of change.

So, what do we have to do in order to be innovative?

The UNDP states that “we must continue to be receptive to the world that surrounds us, collect information and draw lessons, and seek new ways to listen to ideas and needs expressed by the ultimate beneficiaries of development work.”

Taking a risk and moving ahead when all systems are not in place is foreign to the western world. To a Kenyan school principal however, a pile of red bricks is more than that – it is in fact a new classroom in the making. Faith and hope are alive to the fact that in two or three years there will be a new building on site. Several hundred bricks are but a sign, a promise of things to come.

Innovative approaches take careful planning that leads to better developmental results. For example, the CES PAD feminine hygiene project was initiated in 24 secondary schools in 2010. Based on research, there was a need to ensure higher achievement for girls through better school attendance. Girls were staying home and falling behind due to their menses. CES created a training and open dialogue approach between the girls and community health professionals. A cottage industry to create re-useable pads was created. Education plus the resources needed are now in place. The results are significant. Girls are now among the highest achievers in the CES scholarship program. Established patterns have changed and the routine of non-attendance for girls is broken.

CES Canada is connecting young people with added opportunities for learning and employment. The CES ICT Extended Learning Program connects students with computer training. Rural schools seldom are connected to the world of internet and computers. Without such education our students are at a huge disadvantage when moving on to post secondary studies. By creating new technologies CES inspires the poor and marginalized so that they are able to compete with everyone else.

CES Canada believes that acute poverty and lack of access to education is an injustice to both young men and women. Equal opportunity for both is a goal we vigorously pursue. So how do we get there?

We believe that poverty is a phenomenon that transcends income and calls for multi-dimensional analysis. We also practice a strategy of inclusiveness where development stakeholders share in the vision for change. In 2013, 50,000 primary school children were given education and medication for worms. Yes, CES Canada/Kenya was the driving force; but it did not happen without a nine (9) month consultation process between local governments, village chiefs, the education and health sectors, the IDP and World Without Worms Canada. Innovation can help ensure that human development is more inclusive for all. It takes more than a dream or vision; it takes an investment in people designed by experts who are willing to listen and help create resilient communities and societies.

It takes thinking outside the norm, challenging past routines and moving forward to invest in people and a better future for them. Creativity and CES Canada cannot be separated…it’s what we are.

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