A lot of Maasailand includes the Maasai Mara Conservation area. This area contains a number of tribal conservancies as well as the Maasai Mara Reserve and is visited by a large number of tourists and overseas visitors contributing significantly to Kenya's economy. Most of the income from these visitors ends up in Nairobi or overseas and the region sees little benefit other than some local employment for people acting as safari guides and security guards.

The local people understand that they need to increase their revenue sources so they can sustain their infrastructure and in many places communities have decided that the best way of doing this is to take advantage of their natural assets and channel some of the passing tourist trade into their area. We have helped in the development of a number of small tourist camps where visitors can stay and where the local community benefits directly from the payment of community fees whenever anyone stays.

These camps are seen as being key to the communities' future and the sustainability of many projects as they become a major contributor to the economy of the area. Revenue will come directly as a result of the fees paid and through individual employment as well as indirectly through ancillary services such as the manufacture and sale of tribal artefacts and the provision of goods by local shopkeepers. It has also been shown that where such camps exist there is an increase in donor support through the increased awareness of visitors.

The following table illustrates an example of how we have developed one such camp at Labentera.

Establish Title  Survey and demarcate the land so it belongs to the local, tribal community and cannot be taken over in the future without the agreement of the initial stakeholders. Completed 2011
Build Roads  Develop vehicular access to enable visitors to be transported from the nearest public roads to the camp.  Completed 2011
Tent Pitches  Clear and prepare ground for tents to provide space for visitors. The ground used for the tents will later become the footprint for more permanent accommodation. Completed 2011
Toilet Facilities  Provide toilet facilities for visitors. Because of both the environmental impact and cost it has been decided that camp will always use biodegradable toilet systems rather than western style water-based systems. Completed 2011
Showers  Traditional safari bucket-type shower with hot water being provided by heating water in an old oil drum by a wood fire. Completed 2012
Water Tank  Install water tanks at the camp so visitors have adequate water available for washing, showers and cooking.In Progress 
Dining & Kitchen Facilities  A covered dining area and a covered kitchen with a lockable storage room so food can be kept out of the reach of animals. These structures are made from locally sourced, natural materials using traditional methods. They are easy and cheap to maintain and blend in well with the environment.  Completed 2012
Build Bandas  As money becomes available and visitor numbers rise the tent pitches will be replaced by bandas (cottages) made in the same way as the kitchen and dining areas out of local materials using traditional Maasai methods. Not Started 

General overheads for the camp are minimal with the majority of expenditure being directly related to people staying. There are no fixed wage costs and there are no identifiable overheads other than general maintenance of the facilities. This means that most of the revenue generated when people stay is directly available to the community to put towards supporting other community based projects.

There are a number of other revenue generation opportunities in the area. One of the more obvious ones is helping to set up and run a beadwork production business. Less obvious is providing sewing machines and training people in their use so they can produce items for resale including reusable sanitary towels for the local people and bags and other items suitable for sale to visitors as souvenirs.

Whenever we are involved in putting new infrastructure in place, as part of a charitable project, we work closely with the local communities to ensure they are capable of sustaining the new infrastructure without external help. We have witnessed too many examples of failed infrastructure where the community is unable to fund routine maintenance, repairs and salaries because a supporting revenue stream has not been put in place at the same time and are keen that the projects we are involved with do not fail for this reason.