Empowering Maasai Communities to self-identify and address their needs.
Community members generating money through one of The Maa Trust’s livelihood programmes are encouraged to spend their income in a way that will reduce their household environmental impact and improve the lives of their family members by addressing their greatest needs.
Research undertaken by Dr. Crystal Mogensen found that an average family needs to sell 1 sheep per week to get the cash required for normal household expenditure. Without intervention, cash coming into households from social enterprises, conservancy lease payments, employment etc is being used to pay for these usual household expenditures, removing the need to sell sheep. As a result, cash influxes into households have the potential to reduce the need to sell livestock, thus increasing herd sizes even further beyond environmental carrying capacities. This also means that income generated is not currently being used to reduce poverty, improve the lives of families or reduce their environmental impact; but this can be changed.
The Maa Trust’s sustainable spending programme has undertaken needs assessments at the homes of every person engaged in an income generating project through the trust. This includes assessing
what are the ladies’ greatest challenges in their homesteads? Which chores do they spend most of their time doing that prevents them from being economically productive? What could they save for to make the most meaningful improvement to their home, family and prospects?
The most common responses included:
Rainwater Harvesting Systems to collect clean safe water at their homes and save many hours every day carrying 20litres/kgs as far as 9kms from contaminated rivers and springs.
Household Solar Power Systems that provide lighting, phone charging a radio and a torch for the family, enabling children to do their homework in the evenings.
Refillable Gas Cylinders or Energy Saving Stoves so that women and children no longer have to walk into conservation areas to illegally collect firewood and be at risk of encounters with dangerous wildlife.
School Fees for Children (especially daughters) are the number one priority for 35% of the women as they really want their daughters to become educated and have opportunities that they never received.
Through eco iko, revenue can be used to lessen household chores, improve the health of the family and free up more time to be economically productive. eco iko (translated as eco products are here) is a new initiative by The Maa Trust to connect the needs identified by the women with entrepreneurs selling these items door-to-door. Graduates from the SBS entrepreneurship programme receive extra training in sales and marketing and then are assisted with start-up capital and secure storage to purchase eco products to sell to families within their neighbouring villages. This will simultaneously provide income generation opportunities for entrepreneurs who become door-to-door sales representatives, and facilitate the purchase of eco products at the household level. To begin, the eco iko sales reps will sell water filters and energy saving cooking stoves, however, over time this will be expanded to include solar lanterns and solar systems, water tanks and guttering, reusable sanitary pads, rechargeable batteries, rechargeable torches and other in-demand environmentally friendly products.
By the Numbers
water tanks sold.
mkopa solar systems sold.