Water Conservation Fosters an Unlikely Relationship

The Maasai Women's Dairy Cooperative in Kenya adopts water conservation techniques from India.

Alisia Pajevic is a Volunteer Consultant in India working on the USAID India-Africa Innovation Bridge Program.

Residing around the border of Kenya and Tanzania, the Maasai tribe is unique in the preservation of their traditional culture, including distinct customs and dress. The Maasai have a deep relationship with their cattle and rely on their livestock as a primary source of food. Women typically contribute to household income by trading milk and selling beadwork. TechnoServe Kenya has been working with the Maasai women since 2011, resulting in the establishment of the first dairy cooperative owned almost exclusively by Maasai women. With TechnoServe’s support and education of farmers on best practices, the cooperative experienced growth and success. Today, the cooperative boasts 5,600 active members.

With the monthly earnings received, Maasai women are empowered and able to transform their lives, as well as the lives of their family.

With the monthly earnings received, Maasai women are empowered and able to transform their lives, as well as the lives of their family. They are able to take their children to school, improve their habitats and contribute to household income.

This year the region has suffered severely from delayed rains, and the drought has left a dismal sight: the areas where grass once grew now appear arid. These severe weather conditions affect the availability of fodder for cattle, and subsequently milk production has suffered. Since adequate water and fodder are no longer present, cattle have been forced to travel long distances to access water. In some cases herds have been relocated, further south to Tanzania, for survival. Rain cannot come soon enough and the conditions highlight the need for water conservation in the area. The women are looking for solutions as they wait for conditions to improve.

TechnoServe continues to work with the affected communities, and is making use of a fortuitously-timed award to TechnoServe India. The Feed the Future India-Africa Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Innovation Sharing Platform will bring low cost Indian innovations to Africa. To address the harsh weather conditions, TechnoServe will build water conservation structures that have proven valuable in arid regions of India. These structures will provide more reliable access to water, quality and quantity of natural forage and increased drinking water for cattle. TechnoServe hopes to impact around 700 farmers by building community structures as well as modifying existing structures.