Food Challeneges In Samburu County, Kenya By: Jair Villeda

PBL Objective

Your goal is to demonstrate how to solve food challenges in our local and global communities.

You are a member of CMS on your way to visit the continent of Africa.

Your plane crashes and you are now responsible for choosing a crop or crops that can grow in the area you have landed that will sustain your family.

What is a Savannah?

Using "" and the coordinates 1.292066 S latitude and 36.821946 E latitude, I found out that I landed in Samburu County, Kenya. I also found out that I landed in the Savannah. I am now responsible for choosing a crop that can grow in the area I have landed that will sustain my family. A savanna is a rolling grassland scattered and spread out with shrubs and isolated trees, which can be found between a tropical rainforest and desert biome. It is hot and dry mostly year round and has the largest herbivores like elephants, zebras, and giraffes and more including lions, hyenas, leopards, and cheetahs. The Savannah has more rainfall than the Sahara but not enough to grow forests. They also have large herds of grazing and hoofed animals. Each animal has an adaptation to survive and reduce competition. Crops living in these conditions need to be able to hold a lot of water and have long roots.

The Baobab Tree

There is tree that is found in the savannah that is very impressive with many fascinating facts. The Baobab is one of the main trees in the African savannah and is mostly found near the equator. It looks like someone picked it from the ground and put it back upside down. This is not a typical normal tree. It is "magical" and a treehouse dream. This tree can grow up to 25 meters tall and can live up to over thousands of years! This tree is so useful that all of its parts are used. This means the tree bark, fruits, and leaves are all used.

The Baobab tree can store up to 120,000 liters of water in its very large trunk and can survive long droughts. It can store so much water that it is known to survive for ten years with no rain. It is designed to store plenty amounts of water because of the long droughts in the hot dry savannah. Not only can the tree provide water but also fruits. The tree produces fruits that are around 18 cm (around 7 inches) long and which are very nutritious, with high concentrations of calcium, magnesium, potassium and six times as much vitamin C as oranges. The trunks that have been hollowed by lightning or by humans have been used as a pub, toilet, and a bus stop while the bark can be used for cloth and rope. The fruit, roots, bark, leaves, and seeds can be used as medicine and general health. The Baobab tree can help with digestive system disorders, infections, skin disorders, and also in veterinary treatments. Just one Baobab tree can sustain my family.

How to Grow a Baobab tree

The fruit of the baobab tree was a yoghurt flavor that elephants can't resist. As the seed from the fruit spends the next 4-5 hours passing through the elephants digestive tract, the seeds tough coat is slowly broken down by the hot stomach acids. They then get deposited somewhere away and are ready to germinate. Since nobody has an elephant, there is an easier way. Put the seed in hot water for 24 hours. You can then rub the seed with sandpaper or a nail-file to reduce the thickness of the seed coat. You need to be able to see the inner white layer. Do not go deeper. After these steps, you need to let the seed dry another day. The germination for the Baobab takes a while, which is 3-4 months.

Choose a site with lots of room and sunlight. Dig a hole two to three inches wider and deeper than the root ball of the baobab tree, and mix well-drained but rich potting soil into the top soil. Fill the bottom two to three inches with the soil and water until it is thoroughly moist but not water logged. Place the root ball into the hole and fill the space back with soil. Pat the soil down and water until thoroughly soaked. Water the tree every two days for the first month after planting. Water once a week during dry weather in the spring and summer. Don't water the tree during wet or rainy seasons because it can go for long periods.


There really isn't any challenges growing the Baobab tree. It is very well adapted to its environment. It can grow in poor soil, tolerate hot temperature, and can store large amounts of water to survive during long droughts. The tree also can lose its leaves to get more water. The Baobab Tree is very well adapted but there is one challenge. This tree takes long to grow. It takes 3-4 months just for the seed to germinate or sprout. Honestly, the Baobab tree isn't the best crop to sustain a family because of how long it takes to grow. Once grown, it is very useful and can sustain more than one family. If you decide to grow a Baobab tree, in the meantime, you can grow other crops that grow faster like Abal, Acacia, Beech, Common Guari, Marula, Monkey Orange, Raisin Bush, Wild Melon, corn, wheat or rice. All of these can be eaten and/or has some type of food or fruit.

Abal = flowers can be eaten and contains high concentrations of both sugar and nitrogen

Acacia = you can eat its leaves, flowers, and pods

Beech = produce beechnuts that have a sweet flavor and high oil content

Common Guari = produce black fruits and the bark can be use to get rid of headaches

Marula = tasty fruit and liquor can be made ( but can make elephants drunk)

Monkey Orange = round juicy fruit ( but soft seeds are poisonous)

Raisin Bush = produces berries and leaves can be used for tea

Wild Melon = just a normal melon with high content of water and both its seeds and skin can be eaten

Environmental Issues Impact

Desertification is the environmental issue that affects the African savannah. The main reason for this is because of humans. The increasing number of people causes for more land opening and ranching. Expanding farmlands equals less land for animals. Also the growth of people causes the deforestation of trees which is used for fuel, houses, etc.. The land becomes unusable for agriculture, the soil becomes dry, which causes the main African environmental issue, the expansion of deserts.

Environmental Issue solution

Using our Math PBL information, I can solve desertification. I can use the area of the garden and dirt info to make a garden in the Savannah. Not only can I solve food scarcity, but I can solve desertification. The garden will be on the borderline of the Savannah and desert to stop it from expanding.

Encountering Ethnic Groups

The Swahili might be one of the ethnic groups I might encounter. They live in the coastline of Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Kiswahili is the main language of the Swahili people and the official language for Kenya. Since the 12th century, the Swahili practice Sunni Muslim. They use trances to speak to djinns or spirits. Men wear amulets around their necks that contain verses from the Quran, which they believe will protect them. Only teachers of Islam and prophets are permitted to become spiritual leaders.


Math PBL Summary

We went outside to the garden area to get the length, width, and the height of the planters. When we got the dimensions of the planters in the Captain Planet garden area, we recorded our measurements in our packet. We multiplied the length, width, and height to get the volume of each planter. The point of the packet was to see how much material would be needed and what would it take to grow a plant. There were many math problems, equations, and numbers needed to do these parts. We needed to know how to get volume and know how proportions work. Measurement and multiplication/division was used in this PBL. Volume was needed for dirt which helped give the amount. Proportion was used to have a ratio. For example, if 50 seeds are in a $1.29 packet, then how much does one seed cost? Although the garden costs a lot of money, it is the solution to food scarcity. So to answer our driving question, how can we as CMS students demonstrate how to solve food challenges in our local and global communities? I figured out that we can help these hungry people by teaching them how to use math to grow their own garden. They can use our packets to get the cost of dirt, lumber, nails, etc. and the amount needed. They also need some materials so that they can stop starvation and support their family.

Science PBL Summary

For our 2nd quarter PBL, we planted radishes to get an idea of how to solve the driving question. How can we solve food challenges in our local and global communities? Maybe there isn't food scarcity here, but in the world, many people suffer from starvation. We then thought of a experiment to solve our driving question. We decided to grow a radish to show the challenges and process of growing a plant. This plant represents a garden we can grow in Africa, or any other country with food challenges. The science part of this would be the photosynthesis and materials needed to grow a radish, or in general, a plant. After growing this plant, we would see how hard it is to maintain this plant alive and to see how difficult it is to grow just one crop. Luckily I did have some background knowledge. Usually it takes about 23 days for a radish to grow and doesn't need a lot of water. At first I thought it is easy to grow a plant- just water it everyday and put it under sunlight. Surprisingly, it is very difficult. You need precise measurements and need to be smart and aware what would happened if you put too much water, too little, or etc. but of course, there were some obstacles. There were many challenges throughout this project. There were also many things we weren't aware about what would happen which resulted in a life learning experience.


One of our first challenges were over watering plants. Maybe other groups had the same idea, but we decided to give our plant more water since our barely germinated and grew a little while others had their plant very long. We then didn't realize over watering can cause our plant to wilt. Although we did receive some growth, our plant stop growing a lot the 15th of November. Our plant, started dying, bending over, and growing. Our next challenge was during Thanksgiving break. When we had the one week break from school, we wouldn't be able to water our plants nor record it. So some teachers watered them. Although it was better to water them then letting them get dried, the teachers didn't put a specific amount of water. This affected our graph. We didn't know if it has some growth that day and leading to inaccurate graph. Another challenge was the plants this time. Our class used a violet lightbulb to shine on our plant. This meant our plant was suppose to grow the best and longest. Very weird, another class had a better growth than us. We then thought of why they got better growth. A reason might be that they got extra light, white light, from the hallways, when students kept opening the door since these plants were placed near the door.

In conclusion, growing radishes was harder than I thought. I realized you should be more aware and take more care of your plant. Remember to take care of it everyday and give it precise measurements of water. Too much water would kill the radish and little water would give little difference to no water given. Be aware of differences of growth to solve challenges like the ones we went through. This can relate to food challenges worldwide. The struggle like challenges families go through is exactly what we faced. It is difficult to maintain a plant alive to sustain a family. They need precise measurements of water and literally any other things we had trouble with. The science part of this PBL is very similar to the real world challenges.

Why is photosynthesis important to plant growth?

Photosynthesis is the process made by plants to create glucose and oxygen. Without plants we wouldn't even be here. Since plants can't walk and eat, they have to make their own food. First, the plant takes the raw materials, carbon dioxide and water. Plants take in carbon dioxide when we breath in oxygen, and then breath out carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide goes in through the stomata and water moves in through the roots. Another thing plants need that is major is sunlight energy from the sun. Chloroplasts help create food for the plant, glucose, and the mitochondria breaks down the glucose. At the end, the plant creates glucose, for itself, and oxygen for all living things. Photosynthesis is important to plant growth because, without this process, the plant won't have glucose to use for its daily activities. This would result in no plant growth and eventually cause the plant to die.

Did you find a relationship between water and plant growth? Why is that important?

The amount of water given to the plant is a major thing that can impact the plant's growth. So if you put a wrong amount, it can ruin your experiment. When we first planted our plant, we gave it 110ml so germinate out of the seed. Our radish were one of the radishes that took long to grow just 2 cm. We decided to give it 40 ml to get it to grow. After it grew 3 cm, we gave it 20 ml every 2 days. This proves that plant growth is affected by water. Later on the experiment, we noticed our plant was long and started to bend. I think ours bent for normal reasons, but other groups had dead plants already. They were bent and ripped out of the soil. Water is very important and you have to be careful about how much you put. Too much water will cause it to get heavy, bend, and then eventually die. If you give the plant little bit of water, then it will wilt slowly.

How can we increase the rate of plant growth?

There are many things that can increase the rate of plant growth. For our class, we used a violet lightbulb. We were excited when we got that color because we thought it is the best color to grow a plant. At the end of the experiment, we noticed that the white light bulb group has plant that were still alive but there was two sets of white bulb- one group was dead and the other had alive plants. The reason for this is that one of the groups had a 24 hour white light which cause the plants to die. We concluded that plants need to have a break from photosynthesis, or they will eat themselves. The other group had a 12 hour lightbulb. The plants had 12 hours for photosynthesis and 12 hours of break. This resulted in the best plants. Other groups, like the green light bulb, had dead plants first. Plants can Photosynthesize which lead to its death. A last thing that can affect plant growth is water. The water given should always be maintained. If your plant still didn't grow like us, give it a little extra water. After that, go back to your normal amount. In my opinion, 20ml every 2 days is best. After all, the color of the lightbulb, the amount of light given everyday, and water can increase the plant's growth rate.

Created By
Jair Villeda

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.