To promote greater commitment to agricultural development among the Maasai participants in FRB’s Kenya-Ngong Najile program, ten of the program’s 39 established self-help groups were selected for special training to become “servant leaders” to the others. Their communities will benefit from the stewardship, good examples, knowledge, improved relationships, conflict resolution, and goal-reaching of these groups.
The program addresses food security for these once semi-nomadic, pastoralist people and encourages them to form inclusive groups across gender, age and political lines. The groups participate in trainings on effective farming, livestock health, water catchment and use, and related environmental conservation issues. Topics include no-till agriculture to maintain the existing fertility of the land, no-graze methods for livestock to limit overgrazing, water harvesting to support the growth of plants and trees which, in turn, systemically increase water tables and rainfall.
Though both sexes participate in self-help groups, training and activities specifically improve the lives of women, who traditionally do the bulk of the physical labor in these communities. For example, more accessible water through community water harvesting means women no longer spend 2-4 hours a day carrying water, so they have extra time for household and income-generating activities. The trainings require follow-through, and because some groups had not successfully completed the necessary work, the idea was born to select the most motivated groups to inspire the others.
Groups that applied for the “servant leader” status and training had to meet specific criteria before they sent their leaders to be interviewed for selection. Many said the preparation alone had already strengthened their groups. The ten 25-member groups were selected based on their eagerness to learn and work hard, as well as their proven commitment to their groups’ goals and achievements in previous phases of the FRB/MCC program.
In the coming year, the ten groups will receive frequent trainings: at least 44 across the ten communities. Individual group members pay a small fee per training to show they are in earnest about their responsibilities to their groups and communities. In addition to the workshops, the groups will receive monthly monitoring visits and have an opportunity to chart their progress along the way.
The Kenya-Ngong-Najile Program encompasses 10 communities, 250 households and 1250 individuals