We are environmental conservation friends
This group of 15 members was started in 2014 with the aim of pooling together their resources and strength to better their financial wellbeing. Among the activities that the group engage in, includes buying cows, fattening them and later selling them at higher prices as a way of income creation.
The women in the group also practice beadwork but only get to sell their products in the local markets to which they are constrained by a number of factors including lack of knowledge on the existence of large market platforms and limited financial capability as well. The members have also tried contributing Ksh 5,000 each to practice Crop farming only to be disappointed by the consistent loss of their investment to ‘ambiguous’ crop diseases which saw them lose their tomatoes produce two seasons in a row. Accessing finances in terms of loans has proven to be a futile trial as well for this group since they have had Ksh 400,000 embezzled from them by a local scam SACCO in a case which is still on going in the law court.
Besides all these challenges, it is inspiring to see these 15 strong willed spirits continue to soldier on hoping for better days when they will see their dream of eradicating poverty among themselves realised.
Ewang'an Self Help Group is probably one of the most organized pastoralists' group in the Amboseli eco-system. Ewang'an is a Maasai name that means "light" and to this group of 25 members, the light never stops shinning for them. After the devastating 2009 nationwide drought that wiped almost 75% of their livestock, the group came together to seek alternative sources of income. The group has specialized in the art of jewelry making using the iconic Maasai beads. The group is composed of community members living in Ola City Cultural Boma, a tourist attraction manyatta located few metres from Amboseli National Park.
This school, located in the heart of Maasai land, is one of the most promising schools in the area. It towers high against odds such as the lack of appreciation for girls’ education and Moranism - a culture that lures young Maasai men to drop from learning institutions to become young warriors (morans). Having started eighteen months ago, with the aid of South Korean donors, this school has a total of 132 students, 39 girls and 93 boys. The infrastructural resources in the school proved to be stretched, with only one science lab, two boys’ dorms, one girls’ dorm and one teachers’ residence block made of iron sheets. One 100m deep shallow well is the only water point from which the school and the surrounding community members draw their water, despite being fairly salty. Since the school is located along a major wildlife corridor, it lives in constant fear of invasion from wild animals such as elephants and possible attacks, having no fence around the 40 acre school grounds. Amongst all these challenges, the school still wishes to create positive change in the community through engaging in activities such as afforestation and education advocacy, in which Matonyok actively supports.
This group was formed in the year 2007 and currently consists of 240 members. Based in one of the most arid parts of Kenya, Kajiado, this group’s major challenge is water scarcity both for domestic use and agricultural use. However, a number of well-wishers and government organisations have stepped in to make life liveable for this group and the surrounding community at large. With the help from Water for Life, Water For All, and Kenya Airways they were able to raise funds for digging a bore hole where they now get their water.
They also worked with the Kenya Wildlife Service on a 50/50 contribution to dig a water pan that helps them harvest water during the rainy season to feed their animals, among other uses. Also, they worked with ‘Gazelle’ a French Organisation, to build a classroom that is used by children from the locality for learning purposes.
As a way of income generation, the members of this group keep beehives and sell the harvested honey at a market in Kimana, a nearby town.
Some of this group’s needs were identified to be;
Need for Storage Tanks to effect proper distribution of water among the 240 members
A solar water pumping machine to pump water from the borehole which seems more sustainable as opposed to using petrol driven generators.
Frajasa school was constructed in 2014 and officially opened in 2016. The school currently has around 30 children aged between 3-5 years, many of whom walk long distances to reach to the school. The school employs one teacher, who manages to teach three classes in one classroom. The principle had visions of the school becoming a boarding school; however with the financial constraints this school faces, there are currently four unfinished buildings.
The school faces several challenges including:
The need for more teachers and resources
Parents lacking in understanding of importance of education – children often arrive to class late
Lack of any running water in the school – water is collected from a river around 1km away
Lack of fencing causing danger from livestock and road traffic
Inconsistent payment of school fees since most parents cannot raise the ksh500 a month required
Kaliet group initially formed as a group of friends, all of whom wished to better themselves financially. The meaning of Kaliet is peace. They created the women's group in 2014 with a "merry-go-round" banking system in which each member contributed ksh1500 each month. The group currently has 12 members and invests their contributions into chicken rearing. Each member started with one chicken which was then sold and bought 'layer' chickens for their eggs. They now have 230 chickens and plan to expand further. The group also hope to operate an outdoor catering facility for large events such as weddings and have begun purchasing large sufuria and thermos flasks. With the group savings, Kaliet's plans to buying tents and seeds to improve their farm.
The group has highlighted some challenges which Matonyok hopes to support:
- Inadequate space for livestock keeping and lack of a permanent site to operate the groups projects
- Renovation of the chicken shed to a larger, more practical enclosure
- Funding to invest in pig farming to increase income for members
The group's future vision is to buy land in the next few years so that they can have a permanent area to operate their projects, have on office for catering purposes, increase the number of chickens in order to supply hotels and lodges within Amboseli and Kilimanjaro and also invest on either dairy farming or pig rearing.
Olorika is one of the most arable lands in Loitoktok Sub County. Located roughly 17 Kilometres from Kimana Business Centre is a 13 members group of Maasai men and women that engage in livestock rearing to earn income. Tabolu Enkong’u Tadua Ewang’an Ang (TETEA) uses its influence in the community to advocate for social amenities in the area. The group works with community members to ensure smooth running of the Olorika Primary School and the one dispensary in the area. With the help of Matonyok, TETEA has managed to get support for the construction of a borehole that will benefit the primary school and the rest of the community. Olorika is located along the Nolturesh River bank and the group joins with other communities stretched out along the river to advocate for the release of the water into the river for domestic use.
This self help group was formed three years ago and currently has forty members. Their livelihoods revolve around agro and pastoral agriculture. This involves cattle fattening and crop farming on their seven acres of land. They farm tomatoes and onions which are sold to local markets in Mombasa and Nairobi. The profits they reinvest into buying cattle and goats for fattening.
The main challenges the group highlighted;
-They have whole areas of farmland that are not cultivated since the group can only farm for one season as during the rainy season the area becomes swampy. Therefore there is a need to diversify to growing crops that can thrive in swampy environments.
-They need capital to increase their livestock and expand their abilities to profit from cow fattening.
-The group requires financial advocacy, as currently “The profit is in the cow, not the banks”. But they wish to move forward into banking to enable greater access to vital loans.
Oloshaiki Women's group started in 2005 and currently has 21 members. The group is chaired by Jonah who is also the chair of the group ranch in Olandi. The group started with each member contributing 10 shillings and later increased to 100 shillings. With this money, the group bought one cow and one goat for fattening. They also engaged in table banking where a “merry-go-round” system was practiced. With the money contributed and from the selling of livestock, they help each other by buying utensils, clothes, building houses and wedding gifts.
Later in the years, they had a total of five cattle but lost three of them in 2009 resulting from a prolonged drought. Currently the group has twelve cattle and upon selling, the profit is shared among the members to see the value of the group.
The group promotes education, livestock keeping and farming. They did however express some challenges:
Water scarcity is a major issue for this group as they currently pay for their domestic water use on a meter. Their dream is to have access to a borehole which would facilitate irrigation for farming.
High illiteracy rates among adults and discontinuation of education for children due to lack of funds for school fees. They wish to create a platform for schooling sponsorship, operate a bursary program and also run some basic adult education seminars. They hope that this will raise the importance of education within the community.
The group lacks a stable saving system and currently relies on investment in livestock. With more information, the group hopes to establish an official banking system and access funds or loans through the bank.
Elerai Self Help group was established in 2009 following a drastic nationwide drought. The implications for the pastoralist members of Elerai were devastating, killing 90% of livestock. The group consists of 30 members and largely practice rain fed agriculture, producing corn, maize, potatoes and beans. The group also fatten and sell livestock, the proceeds of which are collected in a table banking structure to finance different aspects of their everyday living such as providing children's school fees. Seven children are currently in education from the support of Elerai Self Help group.
The group have highlighted the following challenges in their area:
- Human/wildlife conflict with the need to protect crops and homesteads from intruding elephants, lions and monkeys
- Transportation issues due to poor roads, making the delivery of produce difficult and only accessible by motorcycle
- High illiteracy rates among members, leading to a weak business structure and limited communication opportunities
- Water scarcity as the group is reliant on rain fed agriculture and struggle to cultivate produce in the dry season
- Finding consistent, ready markets for their traditional Maasai beadwork to earn additional income
- Diversifying their beadwork market and producing creative goods to sell to alternative consumers such as hotels, not only tourists
The Ilmejooli Women Welfare Association is a constant reminder in Kajiado County of the role women can and do play in development. Consisting of 16 members, the group has taken the mantle of agriculture in Entonet region. It was registered in 2007 and has since enabled its members improve their lifestyles tremendously by providing a platform to access funding through table banking, adult education and knowledge on how to vary sources of income. All the 16 members have earned a certificate of proficiency in adult education, empowering them more to engage actively and knowingly in different economic ventures and general regional development. The group grapples with challenges such as lack of markets for their farm produce and bead jewelry, and lack of finances to fuel its activities. Matonyok has been strategic since 2011 in encouraging the group’s existence.
Once a week, members of Esoit Pus Self Help Group join hands with communities living along the Nolturesh River to advocate for their right to access water, a commodity that is so central to the livelihoods of its members. Advocacy is just one of the tools that this group of 20 Maasai men use to ensure equitable access to sustainable livelihood. Living in Lang’ata Enkima the members have been forced to adjust their approach to financial gain following the diversion of water from Nolturesh River that used to support members’ agricultural activities. The group currently, fattens and resells goats and bulls to earn income to support their lifestyles. Few of its members still practice agriculture but constantly encounter water shortage and invasion of elephants into their farms. Matonyok continues to fulfil its mission by supporting various works of advocacy and assisting them with information on livestock rearing and agriculture.