Integrating Sustainable Environmental Practices in
Community Based Microfinance Organizations in Kiambu
MBWIRIA LUCY MUTHONI
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment for the Degree of Master of
Environmental Studies (Community Development) in the School of
Environmental Studies, Kenyatta University.
I declare that this thesis is my original work and has not been submitted for any degree or
academic award in any other university.
Signature _______________________ Date ____________________
MBWIRIA Lucy Muthoni
Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development
We hereby confirm that this thesis was examined by us as principal university supervisors.
Dr. Jane W. Mutinda,
Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development Kenyatta University
Signature _______________________ Date ____________________
Dr. Stephen N. Nyaga
Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development Kenyatta University
I dedicate this study to my spouse Professor Edward Waithaka for his unparalleled
support during the course of my study, to my daughters Joanne Wangeci and Lynette
Kathure and my parents Gerald and Susan Mbwiria for being a constant source of joy and
I wish to express my gratitude to my supervisors Dr. Jane Mutinda and Dr. Stephen
Nyaga for their academic support and guidance throughout the course of this study.
Thank you for your valuable advice and unwavering support. Specific acknowledgment
goes to Professor Edward Waithaka, my beloved spouse and Deputy Director, Pan
African University Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation and Professor
Charles Ndegwa, of Dedan Kimathi University of technology. Dr. Fuchaka Waswa and
Dr. Zacharia Samita of Kenyatta University were very useful in reading this work, editing
and making useful comments. I appreciate the academic faculty who took me through the
coursework at the Department of Environmental Studies and Community Development.
I am highly indebted to Women Empowerment and Men Awareness (WEMA), in
particular I single out Ms. Esther Irungu, its Managing Director for her invaluable
support during my field work. My sincere gratitude goes to all the community based
microfinance organizations, government officials, Intermediary Microfinance
Organization officials who agreed to participate in this study, which without their help,
this thesis would not been successful. Special gratitude to Ms. Mary Gitau, County
Agricultural Officer for facilitating my meetings with most of the government officials. I
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION ... ii
DEDICATION ... iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ... iv
LIST OF TABLES ... viii
LIST OF PLATES ... ix
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS ... x
GLOSSARY OF NON-ENGLISH TERMS ... xii
ABSTRACT ... xiii
CHAPTER 1 ... 1
INTRODUCTION ... 1
1.1 Background to the Study ... 1
1.2 Problem Statement ... 5
1.3 Justification ... 6
1.4 Research Objectives ... 7
1.5 Research Questions ... 7
1.6 Significance of the Study ... 8
1.7 Conceptual Framework ... 9
1.8 Scope and Limitation of the Study... 12
1.9 Definitions of terms ... 13
CHAPTER 2 ... 15
LITERATURE REVIEW ... 15
2.2 The Socio-economic and Environmental Activities Supported by Rural
Microfinance ... 15
2.3 The Main Socio-economic and Environmental Problems Emanating from Activities Supported by Rural Microfinance ... 18
2.4 The Role of Community Based Microfinance Organizations in Supporting Environmental Intervention Programs ... 22
2.5 Impact of Community Based Microfinance Organizations on the Socio-economic Activities in Kiambu County ... 25
2.6 Integration of Sustainable Environmental Programs into Community Based Microfinance Organizations’ Socio-economic Activities ... 28
CHAPTER 3 ... 32
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY... 32
3.1 Introduction ... 32
3.2 Study Area ... 32
3.3 The Location and Topographic Conditions of the Study Area ... 33
3.4 Research Design... 35
3.5 Target Population ... 36
3.6 Sample Sizes and Sampling Procedures ... 36
3.7 Data Collection Methods ... 39
3.8 Data Analysis and Presentation ... 42
CHAPTER 4 ... 43
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS ... 43
4.1 Introduction ... 43
4.2 Demographic Data of the Sampled Population ... 44
4.3 The Concept and Nature of CBMFOs in Kiambu County ... 48
4.5 The Main Socio-economic and Environmental Problems in Kiambu County ... 74
4.6 The Environmental Intervention Programs of CBMFOs in Kiambu County ... 78
4.7 The Role of Intermediary Microfinance Institutions and the Government in Supporting Activities of CBMFOs ... 82
4.8 Integration of Sustainable Environmental Practices into the Activities Supported by CBMFOs ... 89
CHAPTER 5 ... 95
SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS... 95
5.1 Introduction ... 95
5.2 Summary of the Main Findings ... 96
5.3 Conclusions ... 97
5.4 Recommendations ... 99
LIST OF TABLES
Table 3.1Target Population………36
Table 3.2 Sample Sizes and Sampling Procedures ………37
Table 4.1 Ages of the Respondents (Frequency Distribution)………...45
Table 4.2 Household Sizes of the Respondents (Frequency Distribution) ………...47
Table 4.3 Main Social Activities (Frequency Distribution)………...69
LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1.1: Conceptual Framework for the Integration of Sustainable Environmental Practices ………11
Figure 3.1: Location of the Study Area .………...34
Figure 4.1: Levels of Education among the Respondents ………46
Figure 4.2: Sources of Energy for the Respondents ……….48
Figure 4.3: The Nature of Community Based Microfinance Organizations (CBMFOs) ..49
Figure 4.4: Types of Economic Activities for the Members of CBMFOs……….70
Figure 4.5: Environmental Activities being carried out by Members of CBMFOs ……..73
Figure 4.6: Social Problems of CBMFOs ……….75
Figure 4.7: Economic Problems of CBMFOs ………76
Figure 4.8: Environmental Problems emanating from Activities supported by CBMFOs 77 Figure 4.9: Linking delivery of financial services to Sustainable Environmental Practices ………92
LIST OF PLATES
Plate 4.1: Members of Mwireri CBMFO at a meeting in Mugutha Village (14-4-2012). 51
Plate 4.2: Members of Gitothua Pamoja CBMFO at a meeting within Karinga Village . 52
Plate 4.3: The treasurer of By-grace group counting the money in a meeting in Korokoro
Plate 4.4: Members of Brosis CBMFO at a meeting in Kamunyaka village (5-8-2012).. 55
Plate 4.5: A field Officer from WEMA advancing loans to members of Shangilia
CBMFO in ... 57
Plate 4.6: Goats belonging to MaryAnn Nduta (O.I; 28-4-2012) in Nembu Village ... 60
Plate 4.7. Faith Wairia (O.I; 28-4-2013) filling a form to receive her loan in Gathaite ... 61
Plate 4.8. A cattle owned by John Kinyua (O.I; 5-8-2010) in Gitothua Sub-location ... 63
Plate 4.9: Official members of Wikanyire group disbursing money to ... 65
Plate 4.10: Fridah Wanja's (O.I; 3-8-2013) farm in Fort Jesus Village……….67 Plate 4.11: An Extension Officer adorning a Farmer’s Field Service (FFS) T-shirt at a
ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS
ASCA : Accumulated Savings and Credit Associations
CBMFOs : Community-Based Microfinance Organizations
CSOs : Community Based Organizations
EMCA : Environmental Management Coordination Authority
FAO : Food and Agriculture Organization
FBO : Faith Based Organizations
FDGs : Focus Group Discussions
FFS : Farmers Field Service
GBM : Green Belt Movement
GoK : Government of Kenya
GROOTS : Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood
IFAD : International Fund for Agricultural Development
IGAs : Income Generating Activities
IGAD : Intergovernmental Authority on Development
KSHS : Kenya Shillings
KNBS : Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
MFIs : Microfinance Institutions
MDGs : Millennium Development Goals
MGR : Merry-Go-Rounds
NCA : National Coordinating Agency
NEAP : National Environmental Action Plan
NGOs : Non-governmental Organizations
NVWB : Ngoliba Volunteers Without Boundaries
NYC : National Youth Congress
OVC : Oversees Voluntary Counselling
PRA : Participatory Rural Appraisal
PAWDEP : Pamoja Women Development Programme
RECET : Ruiru Environmental Conservation and Education Trust
RFKM : Rural Finance Knowledge Management
RLF : Revolving Loan Fund
SACCO : Savings and Credit Cooperatives
SG : Savings Groups
SHGs : Self Help Groups
SLM : Sustainable Land Management
SMEs : Small and Medium Enterprises
TBS : Table Banking Services
UN United Nations
UNCED : United Nations Conference on Environment
UNCSD : United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
UNDP : United Nations Development Programme
UNEP : United Nations Environmental Programme
WB : World Bank
WEMA : Women Empowerment and Men Awareness
WSSD : World Summit on Sustainable Development
GLOSSARY OF NON-ENGLISH TERMS
Kazi kwa Vijana Work for Youth
Boda boda Motor Bike
Mwireri A person who feeds on his or her own sweat
Brosis Brothers united
Kiguanga A village name
Wikanyire Put more effort
1 CHAPTER 1
1.1 Background to the Study
The role informal microfinance organizations or institutions play in the development of the rural livelihoods in many parts of the world is paramount. World Bank (WB), 2013, WB, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 2009 observe that the need for the establishment of an ‘inclusive financial sector’ was the force behind the emergence of rural microfinance agencies. Microfinance propels specific development outcomes and creates opportunities for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to poverty and environment, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP, 2010). The interventions brought about by microfinance services have a direct impact on poverty alleviation which addresses the first MDG – eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. According to WB (2013) the institution of Microfinance creates a unique framework that avails opportunities for sustainable development.
The WB (2013) suggests that pro-poor financial services have the capability to extend their interventions beyond the possibility of poverty alleviation to sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development as advanced addresses development and environmental imperatives simultaneously. The need to integrate environmental sustainability practices is captured in MDG 7 – ensuring environmental sustainability, which calls for integration of sustainable environmental principles into country policies and programs. The principles of integration were captured at the RIO +20 Conference (United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. This has the benefit of reversing degradation of environmental resources.
deterioration of the ecosystems on which humanity depends on their well-being. The need to integrate environment and development concerns are widely captured in United Nations Conference on Environmental Development (UNCED) of 1992 that came up with Agenda 21. This was followed up later in global conferences including World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) of 2002 and UNCSD of 2012. These reports observe that greater attention to environment and development can lead to realization of basic human needs. This not only improves the living standards for all but avails better opportunities to protect and manage the ecosystems for the current as well as the future generations (UNCED, 1992).
Innovations in financial services and in particular microfinance have enabled millions of women and men in the rural areas of Africa gain access to financial services on an on-going basis (WB, 2013). These are the categories of people who have remained marginalized by mainstream banking institutions (WB, 2009). Kristin et al, (2009) points out that availing microfinance services to the poor enables them change their lives and build stronger and more prosperous communities. The organizational models of microfinance vary widely. As identified by IFAD (2009) they range from ‘community-based, self-managed, saving and credit, through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and specialist microfinance institutions (MFIs), to agriculture and commercial banks reaching out to rural areas’. According to Kristin et al, (2009), the role of microfinance is to bring financial services to the poor.
the preference of microfinance institutions financing working capital that better match their portfolios.
The Kenya Vision 2030 which is the current blue print recognizes that at independence, Kenya inherited a highly unequal society with projections of poverty levels of 46 per cent of the total population. Under the social pillar, the Vision 2030 recognizes the expansion of pro-poor financial services with a focus on microfinance institutions as one of the strategy to alleviate poverty. This establishment enables those without access to formal lending institutions to access finances at competitive interest rates to start small enterprises (IFAD, 2009). It also increases the capabilities of the poor as they accumulate more assets while reducing their vulnerability to crisis (Mutua & Oyugi 2007). The Government of Kenya (GoK) through the national and county development strategic plans has recognized that access to sustainable financial services to the poor is critical in poverty alleviation (GoK, 2007, Ministry of Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, (2013).
Within Kiambu County, there are several NGO actors, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) and government departments that undertake various programs to address socio-economic and environmental programs. Some examples include Pamoja Women Development Programme (PAWDEP) is a Microfinance Institution (MFI) that offers small loans to women to help start business. Ngoliba Volunteer Without Boundaries (NVWB) a CBO that supports Oversees Volunteer counseling (OVC). Ruiru Environmental Conservation and Education Trust (RECET) promotes sustainable livelihood by supporting eco-friendly activities. Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood (GROOTS) promotes women leadership and governance.
the traditional African communities. The formation of SHGs was to meet basic household needs. Traditionally as was the norm, membership was mainly based on kinship ties among different communities of Kenya. These associations were organized around specific functions and age-sets (Kinyanjui, 2007). The notion of self-help still exists but it transcends the kinship ties.
Within the central and some parts of eastern provinces of Kenya, the establishment of CBMFOs is popularly referred to as ngumbato. This institution has firmly entrenched itself; it is providing different options to financial woes of the marginalized. With minimal external funding, community savings groups (CSGs) have proved sustainable and have empowered the rural people and enhanced their access to several micro-enterprises (Paul and Ben, 2011). However, the micro-micro-enterprises are taking place in context where environmental concerns are considered in the development process (Marion, 2011).
The financial goal of any CBMFOs is to enable the members engage in various economic
activities, most importantly, small-scale agriculture. Agriculture is the main source of
income for most of the rural communities, particularly the poor and the food insecure.
The small-scale agricultural activities involve cattle and crop production. These activities
The UNCSD (2012) recognizes that many people and especially the rural poor depend directly on natural resources for their livelihoods, economic, social and physical well-being and their cultural heritage. The environmental challenges brought about by the economic activities supported by the CBMFOs are loss of soil fertility and biodiversity, declining wetlands, water pollution, and deforestation. As the rural poor destroy the
natural habitat in order to make a living, they also increase their vulnerabilities to vagaries of nature (Joan et al, 2008). In the event of natural disaster, the sustainability of the economic activity as well as that of the microfinance group is affected. These realities were apparent in Kiambu County where most economic activities were impacting negatively on the environment. However, the environmental intervention programs among the CBMFOs were minimal due to insufficient financial resources available to invest in sustainable environmental practices (Marion & Marek, 2013). This study, therefore, endeavors to assess the means of integrating environmental concerns within the activities supported by the community based microfinance groups for enhancement of sound economic activities and sustainable community development.
1.2 Problem Statement
The provision and delivery of credit and other financial services by both formal and informal institutions has gained ground world over and more so in Kenya (WB, 2013). CBMFOs have been useful in reaching the poor and those who have remained marginalized by the formal institutions like commercial banks. The loans advanced enable them undertake various IGAs and in particular small-scale agriculture which includes crop and cattle production. Whereas these activities help alleviate poverty and aid in rural development, they take place in context where environmental concerns were not prioritized (Kristin et al, 2009).
household items, among others. Crop production and livestock rearing were being practised in an unsustainable manner (FAO, 2012). This was due to the nature of inputs where there was overreliance of organic fertilizers and pesticides, overutilization of natural inputs and production of wastes (Joan & Abhishek, 2008). The resultant was environmental challenges due to overgrazing and intensive farming leading to soil erosion, farm expansion leading to deforestation and encroachment of wetlands and riverbanks, contamination of sources of drinking water due to improper use of herbicides and pesticides. All these factors exacerbated environmental deterioration.
The concern of this study was that activities supported by the CBMFOs have a negative impact on the environment and these concerns are not being addressed despite the financial support of the groups. The core business of CBMFOs is provision of financial services that support various social and economic activities. These organizations have one credit product and need enhancement in order to develop sustainable environmental practices within their activities (Joan & Abhishek, 2009). Consequently, no policy has been developed to encourage environmental conservation practices among these groups since their core business is delivery of financial services. The benefits of integrating environmental concerns are envisaged in the UNCSD (2012) report, Kenyan National Constitution (GoK, 2010), Kenya’s Vision 2030 (2007), Agenda 21 of 1992 and the
Millennium Development goals of 2000. It is against this background that the study
sought to identify various ways of integrating sustainable environmental practices into
socio-economic activities supported by CBMFOs in Kiambu County.
population. Their sustainability is undermined by increasingly pressure from human activities and overexploitation resulting to massive environmental degradation and depletion. This illustrates the importance of addressing environmental issues. The GoK and that of Kiambu County have demonstrated willingness to address environmental challenges as is apparent in National and County Development Plans: Environmental Management Coordination Authority (EMCA) of 1999; National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) (2009-2013); Vision 2030 (2007, p.124); Economic Surveys (2009-2012), the New Constitution of 2010 and Kiambu County Development Profile (2013).
1.4 Research Objectives
The main objective of this study was to assess the means of integrating sustainable environmental practices into activities supported by CBMFOs. The specific objectives were to:
1. Examine the main socio-economic and environmental activities or programs carried out by CBMFOs in Kiambu County.
2. Examine the main socio-economic and environmental problems in Kiambu County.
3. Exemplify appropriate means of integrating sustainable environmental programs in the activities supported by CBMFOs in Kiambu County.
4. Identify a model of integrating sustainable environmental programs into the activities supported by Community Based Microfinance Organizations.
1.5 Research Questions
This study was guided by the following research questions:
2. How were the socio-economic and environment problems affecting the
livelihoods of communities in Kiambu County?
3. How can appropriate sustainable environmental practices be effectively integrated in the activities supported by CBMFOs?
4. What model can be adapted for integrating Sustainable Environmental practices into the socio-economic activities supported by CBMFOs?
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study shows that the financial inclusion through CBMFOs in Kiambu County is having a significant impact among the rural people by improving their socio-economic status. This coupled with its wide outreach has proved that CBMFOs have not only the knowledge but the power to influence sustainable environmental practices at the grass root level. The wealth of any developing nation together with its people is the environmental assets (Barry & Steve, 2009). These are important foundations for sustainable development in terms of adequate flow of incomes, public health, economic growth and safety nets for the poor. These are tenable where there are fertile soils, clean water, biomass and biodiversity. Conversely, poor state of environmental assets and lack of adequate response to environmental challenges threatens development. Today, the concern of most governments, market institutions and the CBMFOs is the short-term economic growth with environmental issues taking a back seat (Wenner et al, 2005).
underlined the importance of integrating sustainable environmental practices into the wide range of institutions and decisions that propel development.
This study provides the basis for integrating sustainable environmental practices in CBMFOs. Integration is particularly useful for better provision of sustainable financial services. The anticipated outcome of this study is a model on how microfinance organizations can be enhanced by different ministries or institutions to accommodate environmental considerations. This will improve the role of microfinance in empowering the poor improve their livelihoods in addition to environmental protection.
1.7 Conceptual Framework
CBMFOs play a critical role in supporting social and economic activities of rural households. The credit obtained from the group is used as a form of financial asset which enhances the incomes of households through various IGAs. These activities may include cash and food crops production, animal rearing, quarrying and other non-farm activities. The economic transformation helps build the human and social capital through investment in children’s education and family care and the creation of networks that foster engagement in social obligations such as births, initiation, weddings and funeral ceremonies. According to IFAD (2009), access to microfinance has a greater positive impact on poverty reduction as the additional earnings are invested in the health, nutritional status of households and in children’s schooling. Additionally, the start of an economic activity with a loan and savings build-up improves households’ well-being.
the environment which compromises the overall development of the society. Unsustainable environmental practices undermine development as well as sustainability of microfinance organizations. Such practices include human encroachment of wetlands or forests, overgrazing, sand harvesting and quarrying.
The environmental is important for rural households. Indeed, it is the backbone of their livelihoods. A healthy natural resource base creates numerous opportunities for rural households. Joan et al. (2008) posit that the rural people derive their inputs for production from the natural resources. The more inputs they obtain from the environment, the more they continue to dwindle. Joan argues that as the scarcity of inputs starts to bite, the expectation is that the rural people will spend more resources in search of them. This undermines the sustainability of the enterprises as it reduces the ability of microfinance clients to accumulate more assets, save or even repay loans. Overall, this affects the sustainability of the microfinance establishment.
The CBMFO is a unique institution that accommodates the various means of earning a livelihood among its clients. ‘It’s simple, transparent, locally-controlled methodology addresses the community’s need for a safe and convenient place to save and access small loans’ (Jeffrey, 2011). It has endeared the rural communities by its accessibility and level of informality. This has enabled the communities embrace it as an alternative to formal banking. By keeping the resources circulating within the communities, the institution offers its clients several options. This has not only enabled CSGs expand rapidly but has also seen them gain formidable stronghold in many rural areas. The integration of finance groups within the rural communities places it at an integral position in delivering on the triple bottom line benefits socially, economically and ecologically.
environmental programs into activities supported by CBMFOs is assessed. Ultimately, a model of integrating sustainable environmental programs into activities supported by CBMFOs is determined. Figure 1.1 exemplifies these relationships based on the realities of CBMFOs in Kiambu County.
Integrating Environmentally Sustainable Practices
P er ce ived Sc ena rio P re se nt S ce na rio
[F] Means of Integrating Sustainable Environmental Programs
Training on sustainable agriculture
Increase Environmental Awareness
Build partnerships Availing Resources [D1] Environmental Programs
[D2] Environmental Programs Unsustainable Practices
[E1] -Household and
-Collapse of Micro-enterprise [B] Increased Opportunities
[C] Socio-economic problems Social exclusion
[A] PROGRAMS OF CBMFOs
(Delivery of financial services)
The above conceptual framework explains the basic issues and implications of each sector. From the top, the programs of CBMFOs marked A of increase the incomes of the rural households. Increased incomes empower the households socially, economically and environmentally as noted in B. On the other hand, access to finances can present challenges such as social exclusion of the chronically poor, inadequate resources that do not met the needs of the clients and a possibility of environmental degradation resulting from activities supported by the CBMFOs as marked C. Although, some of the activities undertaken by the communities are sustainable (D1), a vast majority are unsustainable as indicated in D2. Whereas sustainable environmental practices impact on the communities positively (E1), unsustainable practices affect the overall well-being of the household members marked E2. This affects their loan repayment schedules which affect the sustainability of the microfinance organization and the overall well-being of the communities.
The study found out that integration of sustainable environmental programs into various activities supported by CBMFOs would reverse the negative impacts of a degraded resource base. This is achievable through raising environmental awareness among the clients of savings groups and building partnerships among relevant stakeholders. Attainment would also be through training and funding of integrated environmental conservation activities as seen in F. Such practices would include agro-forestry, reforestation, water management, applied soil conservation measures and use of biogas. Linking such programs with the issuance of micro-loans can serve as an effective model of integrating sustainable environmental programs into the activities supported by community microfinance. This ensures that activities undertaken by individual clients are environmentally sustainable and the groups are more vibrant and sustainable.
1.8 Scope and Limitation of the Study
on the environment, particularly in Kenya. There was limited research on how to effectively integrate sustainable environmental practices into various activities undertaken by clients of microfinance organizations in Kenya. Similar studies carried out in other parts of the world informed the study on various means of integrating sustainable practices into activities supported by CBMFOs. Another challenge was that most respondents within the community groups with low literacy levels could not adequately converse in English or Kiswahili. Translating questions from English to Kikuyu and again translating responses from Kikuyu to English without losing the original meaning was a challenge to effective data collection.
1.9 Definitions of terms
Community-Based Microfinance Organizations (CBMFOs); are groups that provide access to basic financial services for their members. They are community based and managed or emerge within communities with no external input or training. They are composed of 15 to 25 self-selected individuals who meet regularly (usually fortnightly or monthly) to save and if desired, borrow for short periods.
Integrating Sustainable Environmental Practices; is bringing into consideration environmental concerns to the attention of organizations and individuals involved in decision making on economic, social and physical development.
Microfinance; is the provision of financial services to the poor, in particular those who are unable to access the services from conventional Banks.
Rural Microfinance; is all the financial services (formal and informal) that are accessible to the poor and low-income rural households and individuals.
Socio-economic problems; are problems associated with the provision of financial services from CBMFOs. These include social exclusion and limited product offerings.
Environmental problems; these are known process (such as resource consumption) that has negative effects on the sustainability of the environmental quality necessary for the well being of the organisms living in it.
Social Capital; these are relations of trust, reciprocity, groups and networks.
Sustainable Environmental Practices; are practices that conserve and sustainably use the environmental assets not only for the integrity of ecosystems but as a sustainable resource to support human well-being and development.
Transect Walk; is a tool for describing and showing the location and distribution of resources, features, landscape, main land uses along a given transect.
15 CHAPTER 2
Literature was reviewed thematically. It covers literature on the: contribution of rural microfinance on the socio-economic and environmental activities of the rural people; the various socio-economic and environmental problems emanating from activities supported by the institution; the main environmental intervention programs being implemented and their impacts on the development activities. Special focus is given to the need to integrate sustainable environment ideals and practices into the programs and socio-economic development projects of CBMFOs. Finally proposals are made on effective system of carrying out such processes of integration.
2.2 The Socio-economic and Environmental Activities Supported by Rural Microfinance
The concept of rural microfinance is about bringing financial services to the poor. It
focuses on microfinance, a tool that has been recognized as effective in poverty
alleviation in the developing world. The inception of microfinance concept can be traced back in the late 1970s with Muhammed Yunus an economist, noble prize winner and the founder of Bangladesh Grameen Bank (Beatriz & Jonathan, 2010). Since then, microfinance wave swept through Asia and Latin America, where countless millions of
poor people got the economic boost they needed to start small businesses and work their
way out of poverty (WB, 2013). The micro-finance experience has shown that when poor
people have access to financial services such as secure savings, credit, insurance and
other products, they can change their lives, build stronger and more prosperous
communities (Paul and Ben, 2011). This is because they invest not only in the welfare of
their families but also in IGAs.
is defined by Mayoux et al., (2009) as ‘financial services that are accessible to poor and low-income households and individuals in rural areas. Beatriz and Jonathan (2007) identify it as ‘banking services with tiny savings deposits and advancement of small loans without collateral’. Traditionally, these types of services did not feature in the standard banking institutions. Although the trend may be changing with conventional banks scrambling for the unbanked, majority of whom are the poor, the reason was and still remains that the poor are a high risk category of people excluded by majority of the formal banking institutions. However, the Grameen Bank project has proved that the poor are also responsible enough to manage credit and repay loans (Beatriz & Jonathan, 2005). For this reason and as a result of innovations within microfinance institutions, CBMFOs sprouted and are now wide spread (World Bank et al., 2009).
CBMFOs are community-based and have 15 to 25 self-selected members who meet regularly (usually fortnightly or monthly) to save and sometimes borrow for short periods. They avail basic financial services to their members (Fowler et al., 2011). Jeffrey (2011) defines them as groupings engaged in small-scale lending arrangements in many parts of the world and in particular the rural areas. Such groups use the savings-led model of providing financial services particularly in the rural areas in Africa. Jeffrey argues that these savings and credit groups offer a better way of providing financial services to the rural population within the local area. This encourages cooperation and community feeling among the populace.
They also enable members increase their household financial assets and decrease
vulnerability to financial and other shocks.
The main goal of the microfinance services is empowering the poor acquire income. The World Bank (2013), World Bank et al., (2009) argue that the poor access savings or credit to ensure they have constant consumption supplies. Thus, the realm of microfinance has shifted to ‘financial inclusion’ and how to make financial markets work for the poor (World Bank, 2013). The capability of microfinance is transforming the irregular incomes to regular incomes for the poor which enables them expand their asset base gradually before building up entrepreneurial ventures. It also forms a buttress against health and natural disasters (IFAD, 2009). The small loans are primarily for income generation and used for such things as purchase of seeds or livestock and start-up capital for small business activities. The effects created initiate an upward spiral of economic gain and empowerment of vulnerable communities (Mayoux et al., 2013). Some loans cover the cost of social ceremonies such as weddings or religious festivals. These events are important in the life of communities and enable them build cohesion. The combined effects of microfinance are increased assets, reduced vulnerability and improved information and organization (IFAD, 2009). These contribute significantly to community empowerment and local economic development (Morduch et al., 2002).
According to Marion (2011) CBMFOs facilitate rapid mobilization of men and women living in remote areas, though they typically have preponderance for women members. This creates enduring social capital through regular meetings and financial transactions. Guy (2005) lauds microfinance on the improved performance on the general well-being of individuals and households. Thus, the communities are able to mitigate against food insecurity leading to higher school enrolment for children, women empowerment and poverty alleviation (Kibaara, 2006).
Availing finance to community members, specifically women in Kiambu County ensured
that resources and profits generated were invested back into the development of the
health and nutritional status of the household. The sum of money set aside went to meet specific needs such as schooling, small festivities and debt redemption. Better distribution of income and other resources in the household meant that personal health and well-being of the whole family was protected - an important aspect to broader development process. Access to microfinance for women has led to social, economic and political empowerment (Mayoux et al., 2009).
Many rural community microfinance groups are formed to serve the poor. These people rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture is also a critical source of rural employment, income and food security. Provision of rural microfinance services that goes to finance agricultural activities can also addresses the impacts these activities have on the environment (Marion, 2012). This is through integrating conservation programs that can contribute positively to fighting biodiversity loss and achievement of environmental gains (Marion and Marek, 2013). These practices enhance sustainable agricultural production or forestry utilization, improved access to long-term microfinance services that support greater production and productivity (Consuela et.al, 2002). Conservation programs alleviate pressures on the environment by reducing the vulnerability of the poor to catastrophic events and supporting their diversification to other IGAs (Marion et al., 2013). These activities form the basis of a new ‘eco-agriculture’ that seeks to balance sustainable use of natural resources with the sustainability of the communities and that of the microfinance organizations (Consuela et al., 2002).
2.3 The Main Socio-economic and Environmental Problems Emanating from Activities Supported by Rural Microfinance
easily access the money and at any time. Microfinance organizations and/ or groups within Kiambu County offer to the rural poor man or woman a forum to save money. It also offers them transformation, where they able to move from mere subsistence to a better life.
Generally, community based microfinance services focus on the marginalized rural or urban population with the intention of helping them climb out of poverty with the short-term loans for small business investments. In the rural areas, the poor tend to invest their small-scale loans in a variety of agricultural and non-agricultural activities, with the objective of livelihood security. The establishment of microfinance, although not a stand alone solution, avails different options to the marginalized. Beatriz and Jonathan (2010), suggest that microfinance services provide numerous opportunities for extending the markets, reducing poverty and fostering social change. Ndiaye (2006) supports this proposition by positing that ‘microfinance is not a mere financial instrument but a powerful tool for addressing multiple dimensions of poverty’.
There are many advantages of CBMFOs in Africa and particularly in Kiambu County. These groups are easy to form, transparent and sustainable with the ability to survive without any ongoing outside support (Fowler et al., 2011). Additionally, Paul and Ben
(2011) indicate that these organizations are simple, cost efficient, easy to replicate and
enable members accumulate profits among themselves. They provide entry level financial
services to those who are poor or live in very remote rural areas not served by other
financial service providers such as banks or microfinance institutions (Jeffrey, 2011). The social transformation brought about by CBMFOs at individual, household and community level is a strong indicator of the benefits of microfinance services. These groups also conveniently facilitate a safe way for people to provide financial services to
themselves. Most importantly, they keep resources circulating within the rural
communities unlike the savings in the conventional banks. Jeffrey attributes this to the use of group’s networks for other development inputs. The groups are also
regulatory framework that prohibits public financial intermediation by microfinance institutions (Mokoro et al., 2010).
On the other hand, the microfinance organizations also have some limitations. Kristin
et.al (2009) point out that limited resources in the rural areas makes it difficult for them to develop new and relevant products. A good example as observed by WB (2013) is the South African’s microfinance clients. These clients receive small loans to start small micro-enterprises with small upfront capital. However, to keep their business in operation, they require frequent infusion of capital which is rarely available. Such businesses just keep going, providing a stable but a small source of income.
Besides limited resources, the means of gaining a livelihood within the rural areas may be seasonal, particularly if dependent on agriculture. Generally, the fund each group manages tends to be small and members requiring larger loans cannot secure them through the group. The small loans generate small incomes which are often unreliable and irregular, thus, presenting a need to make sure there is enough money to meet the daily food requirements. Those requiring larger loans secure them from the intermediary Microfinance Institutions (MFIs). These institutions charges high interest rates of between 10~40% on the micro-loans condemning the clients to deeper poverty than they were before they received the micro-loan.
Other factors inhibiting the organizations’ capability as mentioned by Marion and Marek (2013) are low levels of literacy and education among its members and lack of access to complimentary support which may fail to translate access to financial services into improved livelihoods A common assumption is that once members of CBMFOs receive loans, they automatically start small enterprises. However, not everyone can be an entrepreneur. Thus, loans not channeled into IGAs affect the repayment capabilities.
lock the borrowers into a downward spiral increasing their financial and social vulnerability, thus threatening the sustainability of CBMFOs in Kiambu County.
Environment influences the livelihoods of the rural poor households whereas their livelihoods affect the environment through uptake of various micro-enterprises. Micro-enterprises, is a term the study uses to include rural IGAs which include crops and livestock production as farm enterprises and managing small shops and boda boda (bicycle) taxis as non-farm enterprises. The negative impacts of the farm micro-enterprises often pose direct threats to human life (IFAD 2009). When activities supported by community SGs impact negatively on the environment, they pose challenges to the greater community (Joan et al., 2008). The negative impacts are pollution (air, land, water), land degradation, deforestation and destruction of natural protective barriers such as swamps that help mitigate effects of natural disasters. The impact of non-farm enterprises is often insignificant.
Additionally, population growth and production combined with unsustained consumption patterns places severe stress on the life-supporting capacities of our planet (UNEP, 2006). Environment is a source of natural capital and a sink for by-products generated by human activities. The state of well-being for the rural communities is thus dependent on the environment in terms of livelihoods, health, vulnerability and empowerment to have control of their lives. A healthy environment for the rural people is that which comes with arable land, safe drinking water, crop and livestock diversity, forests products and biomass for fuel. Such an environment is able to support various social and economic activities being undertaken my communities members in a sustainable manner. Thus, integrating of sustainable environmental practices into activities supported by CBMFO: - an accessible and people oriented organization is an important step in addressing the
environmental challenges within Kiambu County.
2.4 The Role of Community Based Microfinance Organizations in Supporting Environmental Intervention Programs
The importance of financial services to the low-income households and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Kenya is quite significant. However, the provision and delivery of credit and other financial services to the sector by formal financial institutions such as commercial banks have remained relatively low (Mokoro et al., 2010). This has seen the establishment and growth of informal microfinance institutions in Kenya. Many of these microfinance organizations have successfully replicated the Grameen Bank model of delivering financial services to the poor. The innovations of microfinance have enabled the poor and disadvantaged population access savings, credit, insurance, payments and remittances. Through such financial support, the disadvantaged population is able to expand choices and mitigate against the potential risks of poverty and social exclusion.
as pointed out by Jan and Larry. The provision of microfinance services among the rural poor expands their assets and incomes of the rural communities. An increase of assets over time is usually a multiple of the total amount of loans received. What matters most to the poor is access to loans combined with the freedom to invest in whatever is most appropriate to them. Thus, the provision of financial services and enterprise activities are closely interrelated and mutually reinforcing. Hans (2006) argues that viable rural enterprises require viable rural financial institutions with sustainable financial services. Conversely, viable rural financial institutions need viable enterprises that are profitable to sustain the financial institutions through loan repayment.
The GoK through national plans and district strategic plans has recognized that access to sustainable micro financial services to the poor is critical in poverty alleviation (Ministry of Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 (2013), GoK (2007 & 2009), National Co-coordinating Authority, NCA (2010). The reports vividly point at the potential of microfinance to positively affect the overall well-being of the households. The impact of microfinance is not limited to a section of the community; rather, it can occur at enterprise, individual, household and even community level. The positive impacts are felt as the enterprise profitability effects from both agriculture and non-agriculture activities trickle down to respective communities.
The rural communities, especially the poor depend on farming as their primary livelihood; some microfinance institutions are tailoring their services to suit them. Whenever microfinance services and products are designed to support agriculture, it ensures that it remains the main source of food security and income for the rural poor households. The Kenya’s Vision 2030 Report by GoK (2007) highlights the role of microfinance in empowering the low-income members of the population, majority of whom live in rural areas. Rural financial services have the potential to make a positive difference in agricultural productivity, food security and poverty reduction (IFAD, 2009).
(2009) posit that fertile soils, clean water, biomass and biodiversity provide numerous advantages to the rural communities and particularly the poor. Microfinance organizations are well suited to support practices that form the basis of sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture seeks to balance sustainable use of natural resources with sustainability of the communities that live in areas rich in biodiversity. Marion and Marek (2013) argue that the ‘eco-agricultural’ activities and the alternative use of natural resources can be powerful tools to increase the incomes of the marginalized rural communities. Such practices help them escape vicious cycle of predatory agricultural and forestry practices which impoverishes them.
Community microfinance programs that integrate conservation and development programs can contribute to the well-being of their clients, the ecosystem and the financing organizations. Microloans as posited by Marion (2011) can support the adoption of eco-agricultural practices by financing the adoption of proven technologies and incorporating appropriate messages about improved cropping practices into pre-and post process. The loans can also support income diversification through building up additional economic activities. The argument is that natural resources offer a range of goods and services that provide incomes, offer safety nets and drive economic growth for the whole nation and more so for the most vulnerable members of any country.
2.5 Impact of Community Based Microfinance Organizations on the Socio-economic Activities in Kiambu County
The growth of community microfinance group within Kiambu County can be traced to the SHGs within the set up of Kikuyu culture. In the traditional Kikuyu, women pulled together for purposes of cultivation and harvesting. These efforts were carried out in other aspects such as matega. Matega is a Kikuyu custom of pooling resources where women would take firewood to another woman during childbirth and other similar socials functions such as wedding and funerals. Clearly, the notion of self-help group was collective responsibilities. Due to the changing circumstances such as rapid population growth, fragmentation of land and hard economic times, women self-help groups have transformed into community savings and lending groups. Essentially, the spirit of self-help is captured in both the social and economic aspects of CBMFOs. The revolving savings accrued in groups enable members acquire loans to purchase items that they could not afford to buy on their own. Evidently, there is a great transformation from SHGs to microfinance organizations in terms of functions and memberships (Kinyanjui, 2007).
The County Integrated Development Plan of Kiambu (2013-2017) argues that the county boasts of having one of the biggest CBOs. They are estimated to be over 10,000. These are engaged in microfinance, HIV and AIDs, drugs and substance abuse campaign, environmental conservation, training and advocacy and other IGAs. Active women and youth groups are placed at 3,746 and 1,664 respectively. The leverage of strong groups over the other parts of the country is said to be in the traditional setting coupled with proximity to political power (Ndambuki , 2010).
Within the county, CBOs and in particular the microfinance groups bring communities of
unorganized poor together, thus building social capital and networks (Ministry for
Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, 2013). The social capital sets the stage
for economic capital and social networks (Mayoux et al., 2009). The economic capital is
enhanced when the poor accesses financial services at competitive rates to start small
social capital in effect facilitates interventions in wedding and funeral arrangements,
initiation ceremonies, festivities in the church and fundraising for schools and hospital
bills. The economic and social capital leads to promotion of awareness, literacy and
leadership particularly among women from poor communities. This paves way for the empowerment of women, hence combating gender inequality (Getanch, 2004).
In Kiambu Country as with most African communities, rights and responsibilities within the household are defined by gender, age and seniority (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood, GROOTS, 2009). Traditionally, women were the main farm workers but men pocketed the returns which they spent outside their families. Women, not satisfied with this arrangement came up with ways and means to earn their own income or even farm inputs. It is this spirit that has seen savings groups grow in reaps and bounds among women in the rural areas. Another explanation as pointed by Kinyanjui (2007) is the high levels of alcoholism and drug abuse among men not only in Kiambu but in many parts of former Central Province of Kenya (Nyeri, Nyandarua, Kirinyaga, Muranga, Maragua counties) which placed greater responsibilities on women. To meet these enormous tasks, most women have embraced community microfinance groups as the only option to cater for their families needs.
Generally, the members of microfinance groups pool their savings in a loan fund where all interest revenue accrued is for the members themselves and not for any external institution. The money raised through savings is loaned to group members. These are payable monthly with an interest rate which is agreed by the members or the supporting MFIs. Supporting MFIs are financial intermediaries that help to mobilize funds and channel them to the groups when the need arises. Some of the MFIs operating in Kiambu County include but are not limited to Women Empowerment and Men Awareness (WEMA), Pamoja Women Development Programme (PAWDEP), Catholic Development Fund and Taifa Option Microfinance. The interest rates vary widely from one group to another and from one MFI to another. Generally, it ranges from 10 to 20 per cent per annum depending on the group or the MFI. According to Kibaara (2006) interest rates are high partly because of lack of collateral and that MFIs need to remain sustainable (Kibaara, 2006). Additionally, members take loans at high interest rate for they know they stand to gain from the interest accruing from the loan. Members are encouraged to save as much as they can before they can apply for a loan from the collective kitty. The
compulsory savings help the members build assets over time and develop discipline for
The credit funds that members access is generated from the members’ own savings and the interest earned by the group from the loan advanced. There is also the loan from MFI which the group members can access when their group resources are insufficient for their needs. The loans do not require collateral and there is a high degree of personal and corporate accountability and trust since all the money transactions are done on the table in the presence of other members. Kinyanjui (2007) observes that women exhibit very high levels of commitment to community based microfinance and have a better repayment reputation than their male counterparts.
payable within a month or two while as the repayment period of long-term loans is between 10 and 24 months. In essence, rural households save money for securing food and shelter, enterprise use, build-up of assets and for future consumption. Jan and Larry (2012) observe that rural finance is a cost-effective model of offering financial services to the low-income households in the rural areas like Kiambu County. The loans support important social and economic activities among community members. They can also be used to address various environmental concerns for the benefit of sustainable development. Thus, this study acknowledges that CBMFOs are important avenues for integration of environmental ideas and practices within the rural communities in Kiambu County.
2.6 Integration of Sustainable Environmental Programs into Community Based Microfinance Organizations’ Socio-economic Activities
The concept of sustainable development was brought to the fore by the World
Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1987. At the time, the need to address development and environment imperatives was gaining momentum. This led to the definition of sustainable development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generation’ (WCED 1987
chapt 2 (i)). UNCSD (2012) recognizes that humans, especially the poor depend directly on ecosystems for their livelihoods; economic, social, physical well-being and cultural heritage. Increasing pressures on the ecosystem to meet the needs of human kind has translated into threats such as land degradation, water scarcity, deforestation and pollution. The ability of the environment to continue to support livelihoods should be accompanied with strategies that reduce the risks posed by these threats (IGAD, 2007). The calls for promotion of sustainable livelihoods and practices were echoed in the Rio+20 Conference, held on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 20-22 June, 2012. These have the potential to enhance sustainable use of natural resources.
into account the linkages between natural resource base capabilities, consequences of degradation and the real or perceived impacts human activities have on the environment. UNCSD (2012) points that integration of environmental concerns into any institution should be such that there is commitment and a framework is created that is favourable for
the implementation of environmental programs. In essence, integrating environmental
concerns into the activities supported by CBMFOs in Kiambu County is a way forward in
realizing sustainable development at the grass roots level.
The argument based on this study is that CBMFOs should take into consideration
environmental issues in order to effectively contribute to poverty alleviation and
sustainable development. The main reason is that activities supported by these
organizations have an impact on the environment. The environmental risks generally
threaten the livelihoods and health of the micro-entrepreneur and the surrounding
community. This is because environment is the only asset readily available to the poor
who rely on it for sustenance. Marion and Marek (2013) indicate that 80 per cent of the
needs of the poor are derived from natural resources.
The need to integrate environmental ideas and practices into these organizations cannot
be overemphasized. Managing environmental threats emanating from activities supported
by CBMFOs such as soil degradation, deforestation and overexploitation can generate
positive economic returns to the clients. Environmental management generates improved
production processes but also allows micro-entrepreneurs to cut costs. The ripple effect is
improved working conditions, increased productivity and profits. To the clients, the
advantage is diversification of income-generating activities with a clear added value such
as agro-forestry, conservation agriculture, crop and livestock rotation, water harvesting,
waste management, use of renewable energy and improved cook stoves. A good example
is Finca, a microfinance organization based in Uganda that has taken into promotion of
renewable energy solutions. According to Marion (2011) linking delivery of loans to
sustainable environmental practices helps reduce harmful practices. Examples of
microfinance organizations undertaking such activities are Acleda in Cambodia and Fie
that their clients can undertake. This can be likened to what K-Rep Bank in Kenya is
doing by encouraging its clients to improve their ecological footprint.
The main focus in integrating sustainable practices is adaptation of ‘green microfinance’
to help rural people identify and manage environmental risks and opportunities (Marion,
2011). Inclusion of non-financial services such as environmental awareness is also
important. Camide Paseca a microfinance organization in Mali committed its clients to
engage in environmentally-friendly activities such as tree planting, non-usage of plastic bags and raise their relatives’ awareness on environmental issues (Marion and Marek,
2013). The examples above exemplify that such activities enhance the triple bottom line.
First, environment by reducing environmental risks. Secondly, on the social front, there
are improved working conditions, reduction of health and safety hazards. Thirdly,
economic standpoint, there is sustainability of livelihood, efficiency, new business
supported by CBMFOs bear directly on the environment leading to natural resource degradation through unsustainable agricultural practices.
32 CHAPTER 3
This chapter discusses the methods used in carrying out the research. It examines the
study area characteristics in terms of its location and topography. It describes the research
design and sampling procedures. The chapter also gives detailed information on the
methods used to collect, present and analyze both primary and secondary data. This
chapter delineates the steps taken in determining the means and consequently a model of
integrating sustainable environmental practices into activities supported by community
based microfinance organizations.
3.2 Study Area
The study was carried out specifically in Ruiru Division of Ruiru Sub-county. According
to Kiambu District Planning Unit (2011) the Sub-county has a population of 201, 987. It
is divided into two administrative divisions: Ruiru and Githurai (Figure 3.1). The study was carried out in Ruiru Division which has two locations namely Ruiru and Mugutha. Respondents were drawn from the sub-locations of Mugutha, Gitothua and Mukuyu comprising mainly the rural population, which was the focus of the study.
pressure on forest resources such as Kinare forest. The same report points to the manifestations of a damaged natural resource base as deforestation, land degradation, soil erosion, water pollution, siltation of water reservoirs, pollution of river systems(Gatamaiyu, Riu, Ndarugu, Bathi, Nyamwera, Kahuga) from industrial effluents and raw sewage. There is also clogging of river systems by weed and increasing air pollution by harmful emissions from industries.
The early 1990s saw a widening gap between the promise and the reality of the state in addressing issues afflicting the disadvantaged members of the society, non-governmental actors such as CBOs proliferated in most parts of Kenya. It is against this backdrop that the county boasts of having one of the biggest numbers of CBOs as reported in the Kiambu County Development Profile, 2013. These are seen as alternative agents of development. However, lack of a coherent policy on environmental protection and conservation particularly among microfinance organizations is a major challenge. There is inadequate community participation in the management of the environment and natural resources within the county. This is besides the large number of CBOs in the county. This formed the major consideration in the choice of the area for study. The study assessed the socio-economic and environmental activities supported by CBMFOs. It also examined the economic and environmental challenges, various environmental intervention programs and how to effectively integrate sustainable environmental practices and ideas into them.
3.3 The Location and Topographic Conditions of the Study Area
Ruiru Sub-county located within Kiambu County, is one of the 47 counties in the
Republic of Kenya. The county is located in the central region of Kenya and covers a
total area of 2,543.5 Km2 according to the Kenya Population and Housing Census (2009).
Ruiru Sub-county is situated in the upper midland zone which lies between 1,300-1,500
metres above sea level. It falls within the semi-arid areas of Kiambu County. The region
is covered by low fertile soils (mainly sandy and clay) which are shallow and poorly
drained. The area experiences low rainfall, which limits agricultural productions.
county experiences bi-modal type of rainfall. The long rains fall between Mid-March to
May followed by a cold season usually with drizzles and frost during June to August and
the short rains between Mid-October to November. The annual rainfall varies with
altitude, with higher areas receiving as high as 2,000 mm and lower areas receiving as
low as 600 mm (County Integrated Development Plan, 2013-2017). Figure 3.1 shows the
map of the study area within Kiambu County.
Figure 3.1: Location of the Study Area Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (2013) Ruiru Sub-county
The study area