In rural Kenya, most women are the sole bread winners in their households. Women from the upper Mara River basin located, no exception. From tilling, planting and harvesting of  crop, taking care of children, household chores to even building houses in some instances, they bear this burden of responsibilities.

Prior to the 2013, women from Enelerai Division were heavily involved in the firewood business which had further transitioned  into charcoal making businesses. They would get their wood from the neighboring Mau forest. This was their main source of income which they would use to cater for their families livelihood. Engaging in this business was unsafe since most of these women had to go to the forest before crack of dawn and leave late in the night, in a forest filled with wild animals. Reflecting on the dangers posed by charcoal burning for both environmental conservation and their safety concerns, most of the women came together and formed small groups which would help them map the way forward on other safer activities they would engage in, which would also generate income. Dairy farming was the preferred choice of activity for these women.

In 2013, these smaller women groups joined forces to register as one co-operative ; Enelerai Co-operative comprising thirty three women groups with a membership which has grown to over one thousand. At inception in 2013, due to lack of information on general dairy husbandry and access to markets, the women were only able to collectively sell forty six liters of milk per day. This narrative has however changed after MaMaSe's intervention in partnership with SNV which is tasked with facilitating adoption of improved wise water agricultural activities which would reduce reliance on forests and in turn help conserve these forests.

Planting Rhodes

Farmers being trained on fodder establishment

Through SNV’s intervention, the women have been trained on;

  • Co-operative Management ;Training on governance, financial management and day-to-day operation of the co-operative.
  • Improved animal husbandry: Most women are trading their indigenous zebu breeds with more productive dairy breeds like Aryshire , Guernsey and even Friesians to help increase productivity and ultimately, their income.
  • Business skills on how to collectively market their milk, which gives them a better bargaining power of the price of milk when selling to processors and traders.
  • Fodder establishment, management, conservation andutilization ; This has involved practical training on the various types of fodder , how to plant them and select which fodder does well on their farms and how to combine fodder for maximum feed efficiency for their livestock.
  • Water harvesting and conservation; This has helped in reduction of livestock movement to the watering points which  causes soil erosion and reduces their milk productivity. These women now have more time to attend to other important issues in their homes.
  • Making of multi-nutrient blocks for their livestock: Since their livestock will not be going for long distances in search of water and pastures, supplementing essential nutrients is key. Adoption of the multi-nutritional block technology will help to  enhanced productivity in terms of increased milk and meat production and higher reproduction efficiency in ruminant animals that feed on multi-nutrient blocks (Cattle, sheep and goats)


Women who had been earlier trained by SNV on pasture management

Following SNV's initiatives at Enelerai, milk production has increased from 46ltrs in 2013 to currently over 3,000ltrs during peak production months, characterized by high rainfall volumes.About  four hundred and fifty women deliver milk to the co-operative at any given time.  This has helped Enelerai women reduce exposing themselves through engaging in risky business ventures which also have a negative environmental impact, but most importantly, provide a more reliable source of income for them.

Multi nutrient blocks

Training on how to make multi-nutrient blocks