Il Ngwesi Group Ranch consists over 700 households with a population of 8000 people. To sustain the community, the ranch has a number of projects like;
The Maasai Community in Kenya since time immemorial has been known to emphasize on their deeply rooted culture rather than education to their children. Il Ngwesi Maasai having realized the importance of education, built schools for their children to compete with the rest of the world at the same time maintain their culture. School attendance and education levels in Il Ngwesi are low compared to other parts of Kenya. Improving education within the community directly impacts livelihood opportunities and enables the community members to better engage in local, national and international issues that affect them.
Revenue from the lodge and conversation fees go into the bursary kit that supports secondary, tertiary/College and University students of the community. These funds however
are never enough hence any support or donation from well wishers, friends and partners is highly welcome.
The health status of people in the community is relatively low and their knowledge about basic health care is limited. As there is only one government health facility in the area, accessing treatment is sometimes difficult. Health can be improved significantly through community-based awareness creation around disease transmission through water, poor hygiene and waste disposal, as well as through the training of health workers for each of the neighbourhoods within the group ranch. In 2007, there was HIV/Aids intervention program that was supported by ICA-Canada where HIV/Aids awareness was created and over 90% were tested of HIV/Aids.
3.Water & Sanitation
In this semi-arid region of Kenya, water is a scarce commodity. A negligible percentage of households have access to clean water and water from the wells can be unreliable. Focus is given to the improvement of existing boreholes, provision of water storage facilities for the schools, and piping water to points for easy community access. These projects help to reduce the incidence of water borne diseases.
An awareness has been made for pit latrines and need to have at least one toilet per homestead.
4.Land and Wildlife Conservation
In 1994/1995 the Il Ngwesi community set aside 80% of their land for wildlife conservation and to be used by the community only in drought periods.
From 1994, the community began to manage the land through by-laws which were made and ratified by members to ensure that livestock from the community have enough pasture during dry seasons. Reseeding geared towards improving pasture was carried out in some parts of the conservation area where bare lands existed.
In 2007 a new land management approach was initiated by the community courtesy of LWF.This new initiative was based on Holistic Land Management principles. Awareness around Holistic Range Land Management was created in all the neighbourhood which has enabled the community to improve its grass bank over the years and heal 75% of bare land that existed in the conservation area.
At the start of the project, very few wildlife species existed in Il Ngwesi. In 2001 a baby black rhino (Omni) was introduced to il Ngwesi followed by two white rhinos in 2004 . For the last 18 years , wildlife numbers in the conservation area have increased tremendously both in numbers and species. The community over the years have created a lot of awareness on the importance of wildlife protection and conservation as not only tourism attraction but also a source to improve their livelihoods. The conservancy has highly trained rangers who man and patrol the conservancy on a daily bases, the rangers have been trained on data collection methodologies relating to wildlife species and conflicts. In 2013, the community lost their only black rhino to poachers, this was a big blow to the community’s wildlife conservation efforts. The community is undeterred and will do everything possible to continue managing their precious land and all its resources.
Pictured: White Rhinos at a distance in the Sanctuary
5.Women Empowerment Project
For sustainable livelihoods, Il Ngwesi Maasai make quality bead handicrafts and sell them within their reach. Through VSO Jitolee,the women artisans began to receive local and international volunteers who give training on group dynamics, savings and credit accessibility, quality enhancement of the products, and more. The women still seek new local and international markets to sell their goods.
Pictured: Women doing bead work at Leparua
Il Ngwesi has a revolving fund given to them by European Union through VSO. This is used by Il Ngwesi to give women soft loans for one year which is payable after two months from when they were given. They pay little amount per month.
Some of the businesses done by these ladies are; Hide & skins, bead work, selling clothes, grocery shops, small scale farming etc.
Pictured: Displayed bead work
Traditionally, Maasai community is pastoralist but due to scarcity of grass caused by drought that has led to the death of their cattle and changing times, Il Ngwesi Maasai has embraced Agriculture as one of the ways of generating income and feeding their families. The community is partnering with the Kenya community development foundation. Some green house have been erected in the community managed by the women groups.