Villages for Conservation Program
In the Maasai Steppe, local livelihoods depend on maintaining healthy rangelands, including grasslands, woodlands and water catchments. To Maasai herdsmen, preserving good quality grass and access to water are priorities, particularly during the dry season when drought threatens the landscape. But, simply providing more water points can be disastrous, upsetting a delicate balance that naturally protects pasture from over-utilization based on the distance cattle can travel to water and still remain fit. Recognizing the sophistication of traditional livestock management systems and their general compatibility with wildlife initiatives is the first step in supporting long-term, environmentally and culturally appropriate strategies for natural resource conservation in the Maasai Steppe.
At APW, we recognize communities have been and are taking measures to protect their landscapes, even if the language used to describe this work differs from mainstream conversations. Therefore, our role is not to direct conservation but rather to support villages in their conservation efforts. For example, our staff works with dedicated natural resource committees in rural villages to develop effective environmental policies and bylaws, for example to demarcate vital grazing areas and protect water catchments. We also help communities to strengthen their local institutions for natural resource conservation, supporting strategic action planning, education and training in natural resource management and community-led actions for rangeland conservation.