Every year, over two million animals migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of the Masai Mara National Reserve. Nowhere in the world is there a movement of animals so spectacular as the wildebeest migration; providing some remarkable game viewing that attracts thousands of tourists to the Mara. Maasai Mara Game Reserve is perhaps the most visited park in East and Central Africa and has been in contention to be named as the eighth wonder of the world thanks to infamous wildebeest migration.
But amidst this spectacular viewing, hundreds of children in Nkoilale, Narok County, have been unable to go to school due to the menace of wildlife in the
adjacent game park. This national treasure has somewhat been a resource curse at times for the Maa community of Nkoilale living only 10 kilometers away from the park. Human wild life conflict is common place in the area, hindering access to education for the children. Lack of adequate schools has further compounded the education levels in the area.
In the entire location, there is only one primary school serving close to 3000 pupils, with the next school located 16 kilometers away.
Younger children are more disadvantaged as they are forced to stay out of school until they are old enough to walk the 10 Kilometers stretch resulting in late entry to
schools compared to their counterparts in other parts of Narok County. “Most parents decide not to send their young children to school owing to the intense human wildlife conflict. Incidences of people being trampled to death by elephants or attacked by lions are all too common here. The need to come up with a feeder school to promote education in this largely pastoral community was of utmost importance,” says Jacob Losikany, Programme Coordinator at NCDO and Headmaster of Nkoilale Primary School.
When the community, with support from partners, put up a boarding facility to host girls rescued from early marriages at Nkoilale Boarding Primary School as well as some additional classes to accommodate the increased number of pupils- the unexpected happened. Parents realized that girls who were boarding performed better than those who were day scholars and that majority of those who boarded completed class eight and transitioned to secondary school level. This pushed the demand for enrollment further, leaving teachers strained and overworked. It’s against this backdrop that NCDO teamed up with Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) to address some of these challenges with the aim of improving education standards and reducing crowding of students in the few accessible schools. The plan was to put up feeder schools through a matching fund arrangement with KCDF to construct two classrooms to cater for pupils who would not otherwise be accommodated in Nkoilale Primary School.
“In line with KCDF’s match grant fund christened Pamoja for Change (Together for Change) concept, we informed our community that we had found a partner who was willing to help but we were tasked with raising half of the amount of KES 1.5 Million (USD 17,000) to unlock the grant. The KCDF model was a surprise to the community because they were used to projects being supported 100 per cent by external donors,” says Jacob.
All the same, the community agreed to proceed because they were eager to see their children excel in school. To kick off the process, some officials of NCDO were taken through training by KCDF and given skills on how to raise funds locally. They were also taken through case studies of organizations that had succeed in using the matching model. “This matching concept was fairly new to us, most pastoralists have wealth but in form of cattle. After we tried raising hard cash with minimal success, we adopted the in-kind support from the community through donation of goats, sheep or cows. This was an instant hit since this is the language our people understand best,” says Jacob Losikany.
The concept of in kind donations was also readily accepted because of the transparency element of it. The heads of cattle donated by the community were confined in Nkoilale Primary School compound, which was accessible to all and the heads of cattle were fattened so as to fetch a good price when selling in their weekly auction. After fattening for two months, the heads of cattle were auctioned in the local market and the funds raised promptly matched by KCDF leading to the construction of six feeder classrooms. The raised funds was also used to put up water gutters to collect rain water during the rainy season as well as to plant trees to conserve the environment within the school compound.
“The community feels they own the projects; when they look at the classrooms, they see their cows in the project and feel proud of their participation. It’s very different from other projects where partners have done everything for the community without allowing the communities to participate,” says Losikany.
After being w equipped with fundraising skills acquired through numerous training by KCDF, the community confidently approached KCDF yet again with another proposal of constructing two more classrooms and an ablution block at Nkoilale Health Centre. Using the local resource mobilization skills and the trust they had built within the community over time, NCDO was able to raise KES 1 Million (USD 11,000) through the local community members who included parents, the local conservancies as well as the lodges in the Mara which KCDF matched.
Through the two projects, the community has realized they hold solutions to their own development challenges and that their destiny is in their own hands.
The aspect of community philanthropy is clearly manifest in the projects that they have successfully implemented. The community through NCDO applied for a third grant to construct a maternity wing valued at KES 6 Million (USD 67,000) at the local health centre which will serve more than 2000 women.
“Just like the schools, health centres with maternity wings are very few and far between. The mortality rates for mothers and infants is extremely high as most mothers prefer to seek services of traditional birth attendants because of the long distances that mothers have to cover to get to hospitals. The closest maternity centre is located close to 70 kilometers away from Nkoilale. The human wildlife conflict also compounds the situation further”. Said Joseph. After successive resource mobilization of KES 3 Million, the maternity wing is nearing completion and it envisaged that it will encourage women to give birth safely at the hospital.
This resource matching initiative dubbed Pamoja4Change (Together4change) offers incentives for successful local fundraising efforts by Kenyan grassroots civil organizations. It also seeks to promote people driven change through partnerships with local communities, enterprises and government where resources are leveraged and directed through the leadership of the local community organizations towards priority development issues such as classrooms, health facilities, water & sanitation facilities, lighting, among other common services that enhance the status of the community in general. Thus, the aim of this initiative is to promote local philanthropy, as well as demonstrate that the future alternative source of funding lies in the hands of the same members of the community that are affected by development challenges.
To date, more than 39 groups have adopted this kind of funding module raising the prospects of communities having a complete mind-shift in so far as resourcing their own development projects are concerned while using a myriad of strategies and local community actions. Close to KES 40 Million (USD 500,000 Million) has been matched under this initiative benefitting approximately 30,000 people across the country.
Amount Raised Locally: $61,000
Total Project Amount: $122,000