In the Naibosho conservancy, on the edge of Kenya’s Maasai Mara, outreach programmes and entrepreneurial schemes organised through the conservancy are giving new opportunities to young Masai girls and women.
Lorna Kiu, now 15-years-old, comes from a traditional Masai farming family and says that when she was 10, her parents wanted her to get married which would also involve being circumcised. She refused, saying that she wanted to go to school. “I remember it was a need for me to learn.”
Nasirku Rakwa, 22, keeps her own goats. “Traditionally it is only the men who tend to the animals. Now you even get groups of women going out with the livestock” she says.
The outreach programme was established with local tourism partners from three nearby wildlife conservancies. At the Koiyaki Guiding School, young Masai men and women are learning the skills needed to work with tourists, from learning about the wildlife that surrounds them, to how to speak French. Whilst the dark green 4x4s of safaris seem out of place amongst the traditionally dressed Masai, it is the money that the tourism industry creates that goes back into these communities and funds such projects.
The schemes also protect wildlife. Grace Naisenya Ololchoki, an outreach programme coordinator, organises educational trips for women to go and see the conservancies. “Some of them have never seen a lion or elephant” she says. “They learn to live with predators and wild animals, to protect their wildlife.” Women also learn bee-keeping and dairy farming with goats, giving them greater economic independence.
See more on this Al Jazeera slideshow