The Gudina Tumsa Foundation

Fantelle is a land burned by the sun. This arid land lies in the depths of the Great Rift Valley and receives an unreliable 400 to 700 mm of rainfall per year. Fantelle goes for long seasons without rain and in recent years the region has been suffering through a merciless drought.

Since 1994 the work of the Gudina Tumsa Foundation (GTF) has been the source of hope for the future for the Karayu pastoralists in the Fantelle region. There are no records of any development work done in the Karayu area prior to GTF’s arrival, thus leaving GTF with no experiences to draw from. Nevertheless, GTF’s deep commitment to make a difference in the lives of the Karayu people, and the determination of the Karayu themselves to be transformed, is paving the way to more and more development activities.

GTF’s vision is to see communities, who are empowered to perceive themselves as capable human beings, equipped to actively engage in all aspects of spiritual and physical human life. It is on a mission to empower disadvantaged communities to see themselves as whole and capable human beings.

History of the Gudina Tumsa Foundation

The Gudina Tumsa Foundation is run by sisters Lensa and Aster, who worked primarily in education and schools, especially girls’ literacy. The organization is named after their father, Gudina Tumsa, a Lutheran minister who was martyred by the communist government many years ago. Their mother was also imprisoned for 10 years. The girls were taken out of the country and told that they should not return for their own safety. But they remembered their father’s commitment to service and returned to start a foundation in his name. These women were so committed that Lensa used her own money to fund the first phase of construction of a primary school for the Karayu peoples.

Prevailing Problems in the Pastoralist Areas

The Gudina Tumsa Foundation is working to help communities deal with the following issues:

  • Recurrent drought
  • Lack of awareness and education
  • Shortage of water sources
  • Recurrent livestock disease outbreaks
  • Ever-growing land degradation
  • Sole or less-diversified production system

Areas of Intervention

GTF’s areas of intervention include:

  • Education and capacity building
  • Water development
  • Natural resource management
  • Livestock development
  • Livelihood security and vulnerability reduction
  • Women’s promotion
  • Humanitarian response
  • Publication for cultural and historical preservation


  • Increased community awareness of education, development, health and HIV/Aids, HTP, experience sharing, gender, and IGS
  • Introduction and promotion of savings and credit activities
  • Improved productivity: fattening, animal trading, animal health, and enclosure areas
  • Promotion of education through school, school feeding, dormitories, and sponsorship
  • Promotion of girls’ education, from a single girl in 1995 to the current 154 girls at elementary level at Dhebiti
  • Improved attendance by means of a dormitory for high-school  Kararyu students
  • Improved natural resource management: tree nursery, enclosure area, afforestation, soil and water conservation, and awareness
  • Saved the lives of many livestock through humanitarian responses
  • Empowered Karayu women economically and socio-culturally
  • Improved access to water (boreholes, pond, roof water harvesting)
  • Reduced women’s workloads through shops, grinding mills, modern houses, and water development
  • Reduced vulnerability to drought and disaster
  • Introduced and promoted livelihood diversification to ensure livelihood security
GTF is on a mission to empower disadvantaged communities to see themselves as whole and capable human beings.

Karayu Development Projects


Established 1995 – the Dandi Gudina Primary School at Dhebiti with 41 students enrolled with only 2 girls, of which 1 completed. By 2007 there were 397 students, 154 were female.

Established 2003 – Dandi Gudina General High School with 75 students, of which 14 were female. By 2007 there were 371 students, of which 126 were female.

Established 2005 ­– Girls’ Hostel at Dhebiti that allows girls to stay in school. In 2008, 100 girls were accommodated.

Adult Education

  • Basic education
  • Functional education
  • Skill training

Water Development

  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Roof water harvesting
  • Pond construction
  • Construction of underground cisterns
  • Dam construction – rock catchments

Income-Generation Schemes

  • Shoat and steer fattening
  • Savings and credit schemes
  • Poultry production
  • Small goods shop establishment
  • Grinding mill and grain store establishment
  • Animal trading

Women’s Empowerment

  • Economic empowerment
  • Civic education (women’s rights)
  • Gender awareness
  • Adult education

 Capacity Building

  • Organizational capacity building
  • Local government capacity building
  • Pastoralist community capacity building

Livestock Development

  • Livestock health
  • Breed improvement
  • Livestock feed
  • Livestock marketing

Risk and Vulnerability Reduction

  • Feed and fodder production
  • Livelihood diversification
  • Community-based animal health workers
  • Water scheme rehabilitation

Humanitarian Response

  • Emergency grain supply (2002, 2008)
  • Emergency animal feed supply (2002, 2006, 2008)
  • Emergency veterinary service (2006, 2008)
  • Restocking (2003)


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