Friday, November 17

Working with Communities

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The second in our series of articles celebrating 10 years of conservation impact

Chepchumba’s Story “Being married at the age of 16 years in 2006 and having seven children now, I wish I could have met you [Lokipi, who works with Communitites Health Africa Trust] a long time ago to receive these services that you are bringing us today. The tribal clashes we are experiencing right now are as a result of us “women” experiencing unwanted pregnancies, thereby unable to cope – nor is the environment able to cope.

Actually, my children and I came here a few days ago to seek refuge after the Pokot community raided our manyatta, killing some of my neighbors and leaving many of my friends severely wounded including my husband who is currently hospitalized as a result of a gunshot. Here I am today with nothing but pain – I don’t know who to turn to, or whereto turn to.

I met with Lokipi while she was mobilizing for family planning services and decided to visit the clinic to enquire further, as I believe that we human beings are the unwitting root cause of all the problems we are encountering day in day out. I believe that, with access to such information as the kind Lokipi is sharing with us, our communities can surely live happily ever!?

There is an urgent, enormous need to make voluntary contraception available and accessible so that we can be able to start to work towards living healthier, safer and even productive lives. During drought/ famine, we experience an even harder life – many lives are lost, with children being orphaned and also the number of widows increasing yearly; all these as a result of tribal clashes, mainly between the Tugen and Pokot. Our pastors and elders have tried to hold peace talks but all in vain. Truly you – Lokipi and CHAT – are our savior, as we believe that if we all embrace family planning, maybe peace will reign and our children will have a chance at a happy life.”

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘community development’?

For us at Kenya Wildlife Trust, it simply means enabling healthy and stable communities where wildlife is valued.

As our focus is on protecting Kenya’s big cats and other predators, it may seem odd that community development is one of our three program pillars. However, conservation is all about people. We have to engage meaningfully with communities living close to wildlife, if any of our other conservation efforts are to make a real difference.

This is why, Kenya Wildlife Trust raise critical funds to support outstanding initiatives like Communities Health Africa Trust (CHAT), whose vision is reduced suffering, poverty and environmental degradation in Kenya. To achieve this, CHAT aims to provide and increase access and use of quality integrated family planning services; to increase positive behaviors at the individual, household and community levels; and to increase technical support to strengthen governmental integrated health services in underserved communities.

Kenya Wildlife Trust, have supported CHAT for a number of years. They fund their team of Kenyans to reach underserved communities in remote northern counties such as Meru, Marsabet, Isiolo, Laikipia, Samburu, Tharaka and Baringo. By bringing in mobile health services – using camels where the terrain is particularly challenging – CHAT’s team gives people access to family planning alongside ecological sensitization, reproductive health, basic curatives, immunizations and HIV/AIDS and TB services. Using a holistic approach of ‘Population- Health-Environment’ (PHE), their team understands and appreciates the vital relationships between people, their health and the environment. By helping to provide this important access, they are helping to empower communities to make healthy choices that, in turn, help to protect habitats and wildlife.

The Mara Conservancies currently protect over 330,000 acres belonging to more than 11,000 landowners in the Greater Mara ecosystem. In 2016, Kenya Wildlife Trust secured a significant three-year grant to support the development of the Mara Conservancies through their partner Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA).

Many local Maasai land owners need reassurance about their land, heritage and culture being honoured, to participate and support wildlife conservation. The conservancy model supported combines nature conservation, cultural heritage, eco-tourism, and enhancing local livelihoods. This ambitious three-year project is crucial to secure the ecosystem for generations to come.

Kenya Wildlife Trust, cares deeply about enabling people to live healthy, sustainable lifestyles and to benefit from the wildlife they live alongside. Across their grant-making portfolio, they will only support a project if it engages communities in a genuine, meaningful way.

“Our job is to inspire people to invest in protecting our wonderful, iconic species. Every day, we need to raise funds so that we can continue supporting grassroots partners like CHAT to change people’s lives on a daily basis.”

There is so much to be positive about in Kenya, and I urge anyone who cares about this beautiful land to join us by investing in its future. Together, we can achieve so much more.

For information on how to donate to Kenya Wildlife Trust, please visit www.KenyaWildlifeTrust.org

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