The women are all from Amboseli in southern Kenya, where wildlife communities are highly dependent on natural resources for shelter, food, water and fuel. The need to generate income for families increases the pressure on nature and wildlife. Agriculture and livestock encroach on the space of wildlife. Harvests are sold to generate income or to serve as food. Former wildlife pastures are used to grow crops and raise livestock, leaving less space for wildlife. The loss of habitat and migratory routes is causing conflict between humans and wildlife to increase at an alarming rate. This includes injuries and deaths to humans and wildlife.
Vocational training by Jenga Mama
Women are at the forefront of interaction with nature as they provide for their families, but are ironically marginalized when it comes to socio-economic independence and leadership over their lives and resources nature with which they interact. This Jenga Mama Education Project (Swahili for “Empower Women”) offers a three-year vocational training, with occupations such as hairdressing, tailoring and catering proving to be a popular choice among applicants.
“The project enables women, for the first time, to become financially independent and generate sustainable income for their families and communities,” said James Isiche, IFAW Regional Director for East Africa. “As successful small business owners, they will become less dependent on wildlife and habitat in Amboseli communities. Instead, they will become advocates for wildlife protection and safety.”
Families currently depend heavily on natural resources for firewood, water, building materials and furniture. With a higher income, they will be able to use other sources, for example using cooking gas instead of firewood from the region. The activities of these families – collecting firewood, raising cattle and farming – increase the potential for human-wildlife conflict, as wild animals spend more than 70% of their time in areas where the community also lives. . These conflicts will be reduced by providing women with alternative livelihoods that minimize their interaction with nature and wildlife.
Animal welfare starts with people
After their training, the women will be assisted in finding business partners, renting premises, buying machinery or equipment and marketing their small businesses. The German Margarete Breuer Foundation, which will provide full funding for the next three years, is an essential part of the project concept.
“We are funding the project to provide young women with equal opportunities for employment and participation. Supporting initiatives that sustainably improve human and animal welfare is central to the design and funding of the projects,” said Peter H. Dehnen, executive director of the Margarete Breuer Foundation. “The Jenga Mama project is empowering 60 young women and girls in Kenya to take charge of their own lives and become financially independent. permanently address potential human-wildlife conflicts. Because animal welfare starts with people.”
Alternative sources of income protect wildlife
By generating alternative sources of income that develop stability and leadership, the women of the Jenga Mama Project are helping people in their communities to coexist peacefully with wildlife. Jenga Mama is part of a large long-term initiative by hand International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW): Room to Roam, which aims to reconnect fragmented habitats so that wild animals can once again migrate along their old routes.
At the heart of this is the involvement of local communities and the creation of alternative sources of income to enable peaceful coexistence between humans and wildlife. At the same time, long-term efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change and protect regional biodiversity are also supported.
Since 2013, IFAW has partnered with the OOGR Maasai (Olgulului Ololarashi Group Ranch) community around Amboseli National Park to secure key migration routes for elephants and other wildlife and, in turn, create opportunities for income for the local community. The Jenga Mama project is one of them.
Text and photo: IFAW
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