Update in 2021
The Maasai community near the Maasai Mara National Reserve suffered from a collapse of food supply and health security in the wake of COVID-19. For much of 2020, we put other projects on hold and stepped in to help this community. Although our initiative has ended, others are still helping families in this area. If you'd like to make a donation, please contact us and we'll help you find a group doing this work in the Mara.
In Morocco, our friends at Eve Branson Foundation (EBF) have been helping families in the High Atlas Mountains with food and health security since the pandemic began. In 2020, we supported their work by processing donations for them. If you'd like to give to their continuing effort, please visit the EBF website.
In both places, the need continues.
Amos led the effort on the ground, along with volunteers from the Mara Discovery Centre and the Enturoto Community Health Centre, both in Aitong.
The area covered was Lemek-Aitong-Talek, along the eastern edge of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, where 2000 families live in traditional Maasai earthen structures without power, water, or vehicles.
AREA OF FOCUS
UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE
The Maasai people — already a vulnerable and marginalized population — were hit especially hard by this pandemic. With the closing of livestock markets and the complete collapse of safari tourism (exacerbated by months of historic flooding), they had lost their only means of income. There was also a critical shortage of food in the area. Most families have no vehicle, and even if they could get to markets, there was no money to be had and rural shops were out of provisions.
On top of this, at least at the start, the reality of the pandemic was not widely understood here, increasing the risk of exposure to this community and populations beyond. Our goal was to provide the basic needs of food, water, soap, sanitary supplies, and other provisions while families stayed safe at home. We also delivered healthcare information in partnership with the local Enturoto Community Health Centre.
An additional concern was the viability of the wildlife, in this the most wildlife-rich region of Kenya. With no other choices, desperate families sometimes turn to hunting. This crisis has had devastating long-term ramifications impacting development, culture, conservation, and the survival and well being of tens of thousands of people.
INTERVIEWS WITH COMMUNITY MEMBERS ABOUT THE PANDEMIC
(in the Maa language)
"Without cattle trading, I have no other source of income... I am also a reformed hunter. Before tourism in Mara, we survived by hunting wildlife. I foresee a situation where we might be forced to go back to the bush. If we go back to hunting, then after the end of corona virus, we will have no livestock, no wildlife..."
Kiteleiki Kiok is an elder representing women from the village Oltorotua. "Even after the situation normalizes, we are already weakened. We cannot afford to send our children to school or even feed our families..."
"With the outbreak of covid-19, we just stay home doing beadwork, though there is no market for the beaded items now because of the markets closure. I'm doing it out of passion. It's the only job I can do..."