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Maasai women lead the way in climate adaptation

Arusha, Manyara. In recent years, women in pastoralist communities, especially the Maasai, were not actively participating in income-generating activities or supporting their families with their daily needs. This was recognized by women from Simanjiro and Mombuli districts when they spoke to Mwananchi.

Unlike many areas in the past, in the village of Oloswaki-Simanjiro, despite experiencing a moderate drought, indicating a lack of rain for at least three weeks, a house was surrounded by greenery with lush grass and several trees. .

This is the home of Vaileth Kadogo. Behind the house there is a garden of about a quarter of a hectare, cultivated with several mounds of potatoes and other types of vegetables, cassava and bananas in good condition.

In that area, short furrows were also being prepared, indicating that certain seedlings would soon be planted there.

“Those furrows used to be for vegetables, but now I want to prepare them for potatoes because of the rain; “It’s still raining,” Mrs. Vaileth said.

The mother of five children explained that the beds they use to plant are not common; They have several layers that help conserve water. “We dug a hole several feet deep; we put leaves, manure and soil in different layers,” she said.

Mrs. Vaileth noted that the garden significantly supports her family; During the dry season they sell vegetables and some use them at home.

“The education we received from stakeholders, especially TACCEI (a non-governmental organization), on the utilization of small plots of land and scarce water has been successful. I sell vegetables and earn between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000 a day. I buy notebooks for the children and help my husband,” she said.

In another village, Oloswaki, a group of 19 women gather for a meeting. Talking to them, they said they came from villages such as Terrat, the Ololulung’a neighborhood in Engonongoi village, and some from Oloswaki itself.

“This is a meeting of our rotating savings and credit group (Kikoba); We do this at least once a week,” said group leader Nairukoki Tauta.

Ms Nairukoki explained that due to the harsh living conditions resulting from the drought affecting both livestock and agriculture, causing a shortage of grazing land for livestock and difficulties in farming, they decided to come together as a group of 20 women. .

“Before we stayed at home, depending only on our husbands. But as the situation became difficult, we realized the need to actively contribute to the well-being of our families. That’s why we came together and established this rotating savings and credit group,” she said.

“We started by contributing 2,000 shillings each and then we gave it to one person, so each person received an average of 30,000 shillings. We use this money to engage in small businesses such as the sale of sugar, gasoline, snacks and others,” Nairukoki added. He further mentioned that his business was initially affected by the small capital, but later his capital increased after receiving a loan of Sh1,000,000 from TACCEI.

The leader explained that after increasing their capital, they could lend each other more than 100,000 shillings with favorable payment terms, which doubled their capital. They are currently working to pay back the million they borrowed.

Esupati Tajiri, one of the women in the group, said she uses the money to trade soap and sugar. “I started with 10 kilograms of sugar and 5 kilograms of soap. I sell to my town and village neighbors and I can make the payments,” she said.

Another member, Maitapuaki Lukas, who has five children, said: “Now I can even buy school notebooks and uniforms for my children. In the past, we depended solely on my husband. The soap and notebook business has helped me a lot.”

TACCEI Director Justin Robert Lukumay said, “We feel compelled to think about ways to help our fellow community members because this is our community and we have all been affected by climate change.” Justin said they provided education and assistance to women because they had often been left behind.

This sentiment was shared by the president of Terrat Village, Kone Medukenya, who stated that women are more affected and that it is easier for a man to leave his family than for a woman, noting that the creation of loan groups has been important for this vital segment of society.

Oloswaki Village Chief Executive Officer (VEO), Lairorie Ormemei, said: “We support institutions that help and support our efforts because as a village government, we plan to plant at least five trees per household every year. Environmental conservation education must continue because our communities have been left behind for too long.”

The situation is not much different for women in Monduli district, Losirwa village in Esilalei district, where a group of women from a pastoralist community participated in a grass cultivation project.

“We started this project late last year after the village allocated us an area,” said Grace Narumuta, leader of the group of 25 women and five men. In an open space or savannah with several trees where the eye can perceive, there is a clearly fenced section surrounded by thorny bushes. This is where the 14-acre garden is located.

The grass inside the fenced area grows taller, reaching knee height or higher compared to the outside of the fence. According to Grace, they are still maintaining the area and will begin selling the grass in the dry season. Currently, they can collect seeds and sell them to obtain mature grasses.

“We harvested more than four kilograms of seeds and sold each kilogram for Sh25,000 on International Women’s Day (March 8) to other groups. This business has shown us a ray of hope,” she stated.

Grace also mentioned that in addition to the lawn project, her group has another savings rotation and small business involvement project.

He added that “in these groups we help each other; For example, if a student needs money for school, we can give him some help, and if he is from a group member, we can exempt him from payment because we have a community fund.”

Meanwhile, in some houses in Esilalei there was a certain style of rainwater harvesting, with several water tanks installed. Here I met Dora Kilimbe, who said: “We used to suffer a lot from the drought, but we received education on how to collect rainwater and with the tanks we have we can store water that can last up to five months for our families and some neighbors.”

They got education on water conservation, loan groups and rainwater harvesting from the Pastoral Women Council (PWC) organization. This prompted me to seek out Stella James, PWC Project Manager in the Monduli district.

“We look for experts to provide education to these groups, but we also contribute from our knowledge. This is our house; We have grown up in these environments and we have learned and seen how climate change has affected us,” said Ms. Stella.

He added that in the district there are four grass planting groups, with more than 44 hectares planted and preserved, while there are 12 groups of 30 members each that engage in savings and loan activities.

Loswira Village Chairman Yamat Laizer said: “The village continues to support these efforts, which is why we provide open areas for groups to grow grass. “There are still areas available and we will continue to provide them to others to ensure our area remains safe.”

The government is supporting these groups in several ways.

Speaking about encouraging women in pastoralist communities, Arusha Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Missaile Musa, mentioned that after the government reinstated the 10 percent loan allocation, which will begin next fiscal year, each Council has developed a mobilization plan for these groups. .

“In collaboration with development departments, district councils and councilors of each council, we have already started a mobilization campaign,” he said.

He added that the objective of this campaign is to prepare them so that those who receive the funds can invest them wisely for their benefit.

Simanjiro District Commissioner Faki Lulandala said many economic activities other than livestock husbandry are carried out in his district, and the dependence on livestock husbandry is not that significant.

He mentioned activities such as mining, commerce and fishing.

He further explained that they have begun to prepare citizens, especially women, on the criteria to obtain these loans and the activities they will carry out.

“They are waiting for the fiscal year and currently there are those who have already started applying,” he said.

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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