Many of the people who visit Kenya travel through and stay in Kenya’s Maasailand and are inspired by their association with these iconic people to try and do something to improve things for the communities that have looked after them so well. As a result of this we have established a series of projects in the area all aimed at improving the education and health for future generations of the Maasai people.

One of our main focuses is to improve girls' education in particular. The traditional lifestyle of the Maasai and the role women play in society means that many girls are denied an education because they are too busy collecting water, firewood, looking after the younger children, etc. This means that projects such as building nursery schools and providing easy access to water not only provide the obvious, direct benefits, but they also have an immediate impact on girls' school attendance rates.

Things are changing in Maasailand. Huge population increases in other parts of the country has lead to severe pressure on the land and much of Maasailand is now being cultivated and their ancient way of life is being eroded by pressure from big businesses in the cities. Very little of the benefit of these changes is reflected in the life of the average Maasai.

The biggest assets the Maasai have are their land and their culture. Preserving both is the key to the future of the tribe. The majority of Kenya’s foreign revenue comes from tourism and a significant percentage of this comes from tourism in Maasailand which is home to some of the world’s largest concentrations of wildlife and is well known through countless documentaries like the BBC’s Big Cat Series. The wildlife in parks like the Masai Mara only exists in extraordinarily large numbers because it is free to migrate through and use the surrounding land at times of the year when water and grazing become scarce. The ability of the animals to do this is totally dependent on the tolerance of the Maasai who live in the area. The Maasai have traditionally always existed in harmony with the wildlife with which they share the land.

Without adequate recognition of the local people’s role in preserving the environment and its wildlife the pressure to utilise the land for other purposes is immense and unless the local people can see direct benefit from preserving the status quo then what has always been communal land will be divided up and the land converted to agriculture. This is already happening and the people benefitting from this change are not the indigenous people but people from the big cities outside the area.

The Maasai themselves are keen to preserve their way of life and their culture but the younger generation are no longer prepared to sit idly by and watch outsiders come in and usurp their usage of the land.  In many cases they see their way out of their current dilemma through eco-tourism and encouraging people to come and spend time in their homeland, generating income for the people of the area, but at the same time preserving their environment. Low impact tourism of this nature can rarely compete with more traditional, large commercial tourism and inevitably leads to a funding gap. This gap revolves around the provision of key infrastructure and amenities such as clean water, healthcare and education.  In an ideal world this would be provided for by the State through tax revenues. The reality in a poor and often corrupt Africa is that much of this, particularly in rural areas is provided by external non-government organisations and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.

If we in the developed world wish the people in the developing world to preserve their wilderness areas for the long term then in the short and medium term we must continue to support them by helping to provide some of the essentials of life. This is what our projects aim to do.