A brief history of The CIFA Trust

Children learning outside

The early days (2006 to 2014)

The CIFA Trust was established in September 2006. CIFA developed out of a FARM-Africa Pastoralists Development Project, which was a 12 year project that worked with nomadic pastoralists in Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia. CIFA Was registered as a national NGO in Kenya in May 2000 and in September 2005 CIFA was registered as an NGO in Ethiopia.

In late 2005 the CIFA Board in Kenya and Ethiopia decided, with the assistance of supporters in the United Kingdom, to promote the establishment of a separate charitable Trust in the UK (“The CIFA Trust”) in order to strengthen the organisation’s international outreach, capacity, and long-term sustainability. CIFA in Kenya, Ethiopia and in the UK, as partner organisations, would share the same vision, mission, core values and objectives.

Rainwater harvesting tank

Initial focus of work

The Trust’s initial focus was to support CIFA Kenya and Ethiopia to improve the quality of life for communities in Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia through supporting initiatives linked to livestock, the environment, education, peace building and economic diversification.

The Trust focused on two main areas of work: (1) establishing rainwater harvesting tanks, linked to primary schools, in order to help capture and store precious water for remote communities; and (2) the construction of a number of primary and satellite school buildings in the same remote rural areas. This approach proved to be highly effective for many years.

Over time, CIFA Kenya and Ethiopia continued to grow and secured funding from a wide range of international donors, helping to implement projects in an extremely remote part of the world.

Community photo (Credit: David Munthali)

Current focus (2014 to date)

With CIFA Kenya and Ethiopia growing in size, The CIFA Trust started to explore how it could support disadvantaged communities elsewhere. This soon led to The CIFA Trust building on the historic links between Scotland (where The Trust is registered) and Malawi: a small landlocked country in southern Africa with extremely high levels of chronic poverty.

In 2014, a Trustee of The CIFA Trust was in Malawi and went to Mzuzu in the north of the country to explore a partnership with the Malawian NGO Ungweru. Soon after, The CIFA Trust won a successful bid for two years of funding from the Scottish Government for a new project, helping smallholder farming communities to become more food and nutrition secure throughout the year by using climate-smart agricultural practices and strengthening access to markets and agricultural services.

This focus on supporting market-based approaches to poverty reduction remains at the centre of The CIFA Trust’s work today as we know that when households are able to earn a higher income it enables families to keep their children healthy and in school. Over time, through this approach we plan to disrupt the intergenerational transfer of poverty for more and more households.

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