Joshua Amwai Machinga, is the Executive Director of Common Ground for Africa (CGA) and the founding director Lenana Girls High School in Kenya.
Joshua is deeply involved with issues affecting poor communities in Africa. CGA seeks to expose and address the root causes of the problems faced by peasant farmers, women, youth, and indigenous people. CGA creates and provides educational tools and training materials designed to raise awareness, generate critical social analysis, and inspire decisive action. Through programs such as Teach to Learn, eighth grade and high school students go out into the community to provide training for farmers in GROW BIOINTENSIVE (organic) agriculture and the control of resources, aid, and foreign policy. Each year Teach to Learn provides training programs to over 150 interns and volunteers globally. Since 1995, CGA has trained over 55,000 farmers in Eastern and Central Africa and planted over 2.1 million trees through land rehabilitation programs.
In the mid-90’s, CGA spearheaded Community Cereal Banking, a new approach to marketing cereals in western Kenya. In Cereal Banking, farmers form their own marketing associations to inspect, bulk, store, and trade cereals. This approach allows them to sell cereals for top prices to larger-scale buyers, such as millers, but also to take greater control over their local food supply and sell small quantities for reasonable prices during grain shortages. This approach has been adopted by many communities across the continent.
One such group is the Wasoni Women Cooperative Center, made up of seven different women groups. They store and market their cereals in the most profitable manner to generate substantial income. With a membership now spanning to 1500 women, a model is emerging that can be replicated in many communities around the globe.
Mr. Machinga has traveled to many countries, including the United States, and has spoken at conferences to share perspectives and to build partnerships around grass roots issues and strategies for food sovereignty. His talk on food sovereignty at a meeting of Community Alliance for Global Justice helped to establish the AGRA Watch Project. AGRA Watch Project is at the forefront of advocacy for farmers and consumers in countries around the world.
Having worked with many community groups over the years, he is focused on developing leadership among women, in particular, to empower them to engage in their own business planning, to set goals and make strategic decisions. He knows that women are more likely to break the cycle of poverty and ignorance in their families than men. Joshua Machinga is equally passionate about education and sees the imperative need for a self-sustaining, scholarship-based girls’ high school in Kitale, Kenya: Lenana Girls High School.
Mr. Machinga has been nominated for several prestigious awards: World Food Sovereignty Prize, Ribbon Award, Global Children Award, and Equator Award, among other national and educational awards. In 2012, he won the Humanity for Humanity International Award.