Maa Beadwork, like all of the projects facilitated by The Maa Trust, undertakes research based development.  Our team travelled door-to-door and held countless meetings with communities and individuals to assess the needs and wishes of Maasai people, how they felt about conservation and conservancies, and whether they were seeing the benefits of tourism in their world-famous ecosystem.
When members joined Maa Beadwork, all 494 women were each interviewed so that they could self-identify their personal needs, goals and aspirations. What are the ladies’ greatest challenges in their homesteads? Which chores do they spend most of their time doing that prevents them from being economically productive? What could they save for to make the most meaningful improvement to their home, family and prospects? The most common responses included:
  • RAINWATER HARVESTING SYSTEMS (gutters and plastic water tanks) to collect clean safe water at their homes and save many hours every day carrying 20litres/kgs as far as 9kms from polluted rivers and springs.
  • HOUSEHOLD SOLAR POWER SYSTEMS that provide lighting, phone charging a radio and a torch for the family, enabling children to do their homework in the evenings
  • REFILLABLE GAS CYLINDERS as an alternative source of fuel to firewood, so that women and children no longer have to walk into conservation areas to illegally collect wood and are no longer at risk on these journeys from encounters with dangerous wildlife. Burning firewood inside homes also has major health and respiratory implications to the inhabitants. Gas provides a safe alternative, which is affordable, environmentally sustainable and healthier for the family.
  • SCHOOL FEES FOR CHILDREN, especially daughters. Often Maasai fathers will pay school fees for their sons, but if the girls are to go to school it is the responsibility of their mothers to raise the money for them. This is the number one priority for 35% of the women engaged in Maa Beadwork as they really want their daughters to become educated and have opportunities that they never received.

    The Maa Trust’s sustainable spending programme helps Maa Beadwork members address these self-identified greatest needs by training them in savings and household financial management, and by bringing in materials like water tanks at cost price from Nairobi. This allows women to make fast and meaningful changes to their daily lives, freeing up many hours that they would otherwise spend collecting firewood and water, so that they can be more economically productive with their time.

    We continually monitor the success of Maa Beadwork and the impact that this project is having. In December 2017, The Maa Trust repeated the 2015 Baseline survey with women engaged in Maa Beadwork to analyse the impact of the social enterprises, specifically focusing on the conservation outcomes. The report summarising the findings is available here

    Not only is this social enterprise changing the lives of the people involved, getting thousands more children into school, and reducing the workload of the women at home, but the conservation of their land is benefiting enormously too...

    If people no longer need to enter the conservancies to collect firewood and water, wild animals are left in peace to roam free and undisturbed, so that their populations can rise and their pristine habitats remain unpolluted. Trees are growing taller, stronger and more plentiful, and the emissions from households are reduced when smoke from wood burning is no longer a problem. The health implications of this change are also very apparent, with family members no longer suffering from lung and eye conditions caused by smoke in the home.