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Climate change makes the nomadic life of the Masai in Kenya more difficult. A new project introduces them to agriculture.
Strengthening the resilience of agro-pastoralists and pastoralists
Kenya, Kajiado and Narok Districts
November 2016 to September 2020
21,280 people will benefit directly, and 127,680 people indirectly, for an average of six family members per household.
Southern Kenya is one of the arid zones of central Africa. The nomads of the Masai have been living here for centuries. The Masai drive large herds of cattle, goats and sheep through the barren landscape. Their way of life is threatened, however: because of climate change, droughts are becoming worse, rainy seasons are becoming unpredictable and lack of water makes for thirsty animals. The herds must cover ever longer distances to reach water sources. This weakens them and makes them vulnerable to diseases. In the dry season, the cows give no more milk, and the children of shepherds suffer from severe malnutrition.
In order to break this cycle of nomadic life, the Kenyan government has now allocated land to the Masai. The problem is that nomadic families have no knowledge of the sedentary life. How are traditional livestock farmers suddenly to switch to farming? Welthungerhilfe and its local partner organization NIA (Neighbors Initiative Alliance) are helping families in the districts of Kajiado and Narok identify the optimal use of their assigned land. But many shepherds are skeptical about change and insist on their tradition. That is why Welthungerhilfe focuses on communication and winning people over through positive examples.
With hay, participants can improve the productivity of their dairy cows.
In more than 50 self-help groups, people gradually learn the advantages of sedentary life. They plant robust grass, dry it to hay and press the hay into bales for storage or sale with simple presses. They receive materials and tools from Welthungerhilfe. In both districts, a total of ten simple barns were created, in which the hay can be safely stored. Welthungerhilfe deliberately keeps the design simple, so that the barns can be easily and inexpensively reconstructed. In the training sessions, the cattle breeders learn how to improve the quality of their pastures, use rainwater, keep their animals healthy and feed them so that they can get fat and provide milk. They acquire knowledge in hygiene, marketing and business administration. They join together to form cooperatives in order to be able to obtain better prices when selling cattle and milk. The effect is to increase family income so that the children can finally go to school.
Welthungerhilfe has already had good experiences in a previous project. With hay, participants were able to significantly increase the productivity of their dairy cows. The dairy producer Naituta Sane from Kajiado County says today: "I make a little money from milk sales now. I've been keeping cattle for many years, but never before have I earned as much income as in the past two years."
Through systematic milk production, women are earning their own money for the first time in their lives. When a member of the women's group needs help, the members help each other. They are able to improve their small farms, buy high-yield dairy cows, cans and refrigerators, and pay tuition for their children.