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.
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
- 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
- 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.
Training on how to make multi-nutrient blocks