The Community Development department was developed in October 2014, with the goal to create and enhance peaceful relationship between communities and wildlife.
WildlifeDirect worked with women from three communities in Imbirikani in Amboseli, Kenya, to develop new livelihoods strategies employing traditional Maasai beadwork skills. Beaded denim jackets and other fashion products were produced and marketed through the women’s company: the Oltome Nadupo Women Group Company made up 147 Maasai women who were initially members of different groups (Siana, Makutano and Osiram). The registration of the new company provided the women with a legitimate avenue for doing business and trading with other partners in a transparent manner. 83% of these women are widows and breadwinners in their families. The project was initiated by Kenya’s First Lady’s Office and funded through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). This project enhanced the business potential of fashion bead work by helping the women develop a range of high-value, high-quality products for the international market. In addition to contributing to improved livelihoods for the women and their families, the project contributed to elephant conservation by diversifying livelihoods away from the farming activities that bring people into conflict with elephants.
The aimed to provide a successful model for sustainable development among communities living with elephants.
During the project period, the women products were retailed in 4 outlets in Nairobi, including:
- Kiko Romeo Fashion shop Yaya Centre
- Pink skink shop – the Hub
- Pink skink – Wilson airport
- Norfolk Hotel gift shop
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Empowering Maasai Women
The project empowered Maasai women in a community where women traditionally play subordinate roles. Over the past year, the status of the women in the Imbirikani region has increased. They have expanded their business activities, become more involved in governance at the local level, and emerged as vocal advocates for elephant conservation. The income generated contributes to improved livelihoods (e.g. housing, diet, education and health) among the 147 women members of the Company and their extended families, benefiting about 3,000 people.
Additionally, the project contributed to elephant conservation and a peaceful human-wildlife coexistence by providing alternatives to farming and commercial agriculture activities that bring people into conflict with elephants. By giving local communities a greater share in the economic benefits generated by elephants through tourism and economic livelihood, local people are empowered to play a more active role in ecosystem planning and management.
MADE POSSIBLE BY
The Community Program is a partnership between WildlifeDirect, the Office of the First Lady of Kenya, the Big Life Foundation, Kenya Wildlife Service and the Oltome Nadupo Women’s Group, and is generously supported by UNDP, the Wild Lives Foundation and the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife.