Women groups in Maasai Mara get solar milk coolers


The pastoralist community in Narok County are staring at better times after they received three solar-powered milk cooling facilities worth millions of shillings to tackle perennial milk wastage while enhancing income of livestock farmers.

Despite producing a considerable amount of milk, farmers in Olderkersi, Olkinyei and Lemek conservancies in the Maasai Mara landscape have had to contend with little gain from the highly perishable commodity due to lack of preservation facilities or ready market.

The solar coolers, which have a capacity of 3,000 liters, are part of several projects supported by World Wide Fund for Nature-Kenya (WWF-Kenya) for the community conservancies in the Southern Kenya-Northern Tanzania Landscape which stretches from the Maasai Mara, Amboseli National Park to Tsavo conservation area.

Speaking during the launch on Friday, October 8, WWF-Kenya Chief Executive Officer, Mohammed Awer, said that the conservation organization also commissioned three 5,000 cubic metre water pans and 24 predator proof cattle bomas for the communities to help mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

“Some of our interventions like nature-based solutions add to the efforts of the Maasai. Their legitimate voice must be heard. Leaders must amplify the voice of the Maasai and other indigenous communities through organizing forums for them to discuss how best to take this agenda forward,” said Awer.

Through the project which was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation through WWF-Germany, the communities in Maasai Mara also received six GPS devices, seven binoculars, 105 camera traps and computers to enhance their wildlife monitoring.

“As a country we have to put in place proactive measures to ensure people have enough spaces and provide the right development initiatives while also ensuring there are spaces left for wildlife, and this is the balance we are working on,” said the WWF-Kenya chief.

The solar milk cooling plants will be run by women groups in the three conservancies, empowering and building the pastoralist community’s adaptation to climate change.

Speaking at Olpusimoru trading centre where the projects were commissioned, Olderkesi Women Group chairperson Nayoi Lukeine said: “this project has given us a positive vision and will help women grow their own businesses.”

She said women use proceeds from hawking milk to pay school fees and meet household expenses, but with the solar cooler they plan to reinvest the income they will receive to build residential houses.

The host Member of Parliament, Narok West’s Gabriel Tongoyo, urged the pastoralist community to embrace the conservancy model to enhance beneficial coexistence of the community with wildlife.

“The conservancy model is the way into the future due to climate change. Politics that pit communities against each other is unacceptable,” said MP Tongoyo.

Youth were also not left behind in the project implemented across the expansive wildlife corridor with several groups receiving beehives to kickstart beekeeping ventures.

Within the Maasai Mara landscape, there are 17 conservancies formed by landowners who seek to achieve a beneficial coexistence with wildlife through ecotourism and leasing out of land to create more space for wild animals.

The projects implemented by WWF-Kenya were co-designed by the pastoralist communities through a participatory approach.

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Source: citizentv.co.ke