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Project information

Protecting the Maasai's Loita Hills

The Loita Hills are one of the most spectacular and unspoiled regions of Kenya, but this environment is under threat. Increasing population size, visible deforestation, over-grazing and changing weather patterns threatens the traditional Maasai way of life. Our team are trying to protect their home.

December 2010 - December 2013

Charity information: S.A.F.E.

S.A.F.E. logo
  • Need


    Environmental sustainability is a matter of life and death for the Maasai who live in the Loita Hills. The depend almost entirely on livestock for survival but increasingly large herds are leading to rapid deforestation as humans clear land for grazing. In 2009, more children died of starvation in the Loita Hills than at any other time in living memory and a huge number of families lost all means of livelihood as entire herds died. The Maasai must race to protect their environment to survive.


    S.A.F.E.'s Maasai project, SAFE Maa, uses traditional Maasai songs and storytelling to present information in a culturally acceptable way. Recognising the threat to their home that environmental damage causes, the team has begun an intervention on environmental issues in the area. They are providing the awareness, motivation, education and skills to ensure that the Loita Maasai have food security and a sustainable relationship with their land.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Provide the motivation, education, and skills to protect the Loita Hills


    » Understand people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviours in relation to land and its use, livestock issues and how these intersect with Maasai identity
    » Work with community groups and leaders to develop a series of actions that support the community to adopt change
    » Devise and deliver performance throughout the region which encourages environmental protection as a sign of responsible Maasai behaviour

    What success will look like

    Trigger a community-wide shift in attitude and acceptance of the need to protect the environment, as assessed in discussion with the whole community

    Aim 2

    Encourage a sustainable relationship between the Maasai and their land


    » Create a small nature reserve around the S.A.F.E. office in Olemusutie to inspire and encourage the community to let an area of their land grow wild
    » Deliver performances and community outreach work to provoke discussion about the merits of controlling herd size and monitoring grazing

    What success will look like

    Establish a successful nature reserve and drop-in centre that the community admires and respects, as demonstrated by rates of visits and engagement with workshops

    Aim 3

    Encourage tree planting to replace those cut down for fuel and destroyed by grazing


    » Cultivate and distribute seedlings of trees to the community
    » Deliver workshops to educate people about conservation and the benefits of tree planting for the environment for crops and people

    What success will look like

    Have high take-up of workshops and interventions such as seedling distribution and tree maintenance

    Aim 4

    Create awareness of the need to diversify agriculture and effectively manage resources like water


    » Model positive behaviours in land conservation, water collection and fuel efficiency
    » Establish bee hives to provide income generation opportunities, enable plant pollination and offer health benefits when compared to sugar
    » Encourage water conservation and sanitation by introducing guttering to the area and utilizing rainwater tanks for watering plants and animals

    What success will look like

    Have high take-up of schemes such as bee keeping and water conservation

  • Impact


    The Loita Hills are a source of deep pride for the Maasai. Capitalising on SAFE Maa's well established and respected position in the community, this programme will unify the community around protection of this environment and ensuring sustainability for the area. This will be demonstrated by a marked reduction in over-grazing; the establishment of 'wild' areas; more trees being planted; and a change in attitude towards personal responsibility for protection of the environment.


    Climate change and unpredictable weather patterns could threaten even the best efforts of this work, should freak weather hit the community and destroy plants, livestock or water sources. Moreover, plans for a major road to be built through this area could destabilise efforts to protect the environment.

    Whilst there is no way to avoid this, now is the time to act in order to protect the environment and its people from the effects of climate change and impending modernisation going forwards.


    We will provide financial and programme reports for donors every 6 months (or on request) and there will be regular updates available on our website. Donors can have a direct relationship with beneficiaries of this project if they wish.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £72,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £35,000 Education and awareness Including community education through theatre and workshops, and work with schools and youth
      £14,000 Training Workshops in tree protection, cultivation, water harvesting
      £18,000 Re-forestation and resources Introduction of smokeless stoves, a sapling nursery, water protection
      £5,000 Nature reserve Establishing the nature reserve as a drop-in resource centre and community resource
  • Background


    The 40,000 Maasai of the Loita Hills, in South West Kenya, live in an area of 250sq km with virtually no communication and transport infrastructure – no roads and no electricity – making it an inaccessible and neglected area. The nearest town and hospital are a 170km walk from the centre of the region.


    The protection of this environment would benefit the 40,000 traditional Maasai inhabitants of the area. Whilst the rest of Kenya has modernised, the Maasai have retained a strong sense of identity and have maintained many traditional cultural practices in the fact of modernity. This includes the persistence of a largely cashless economy based on farming and livestock.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Theatre inspires in ways traditional educational tools cannot, and our work reaches people in ways they understand, trust and enjoy. Our experienced team are all local Maasai and highly respected as future leaders of their community. They are deeply committed to the protection of their home and encouraging people to become environmental champions. They look for local, culturally-sensitive solutions to these challenges and the work is respected as coming from within the community.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Amos Leuka - Project Manager

    Amos is a respected community leader and advocate for gradual and sustainable change amongst the Maasai.

    Sarah Tenoi - Project Manager

    Sarah is an inspiring figure in the community and a vocal advocate for positive change to traditional Maasai customs.

    SAFE Maa

    The team of 15 exceptionally talented performers who courageously advocate for profound social change in their community.


Buys tree seedlings