By NJOKI CHEGE
These are the words of youthful Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo in her controversial book, Dead Aid.
Conventionally dismissed for a dry and unproductive land, (even the name Yatta means ‘dry area’), many people thought that nothing good could come out of this place. And, in many ways, they were right. The area received little rain and its unproductive soil reduced the Yatta people to dependants of donor aid.
Just like all aid, there is a time when the funds are withheld over one reason or another and when it happened to this community not so long ago, the people resigned themselves to fate — death by hunger. But then waiting for death helplessly is sometimes tough.
So they decided to do something about their situation and less than five years later, their forsake land is the story of life, new beginnings, productiveness, and oh yes, food in plenty!
It all began in March 2009, when a group of Yatta residents decided enough was enough.
They wanted to transform their community. To do this they had to radically change the people’s views about aid. So they launched Operation Mwolyo Out (Omo), mwolyo means relief in Akamba. Local bishop, Titus Masika, took the reins of the group.
He was ready to lead the community out of dependency.
“With little rains and inappropriate farming technology, the people of always lacked food, becoming totally dependent on relief,” says Bishop Masika.
With Omo in place, the community was ready to get rid of this dependency syndrome. The people came up with ways of carving out a livelihood.