Naitemu Letur pushes a jug of water back to her manyatta. “Before, we would walk for hours every day just to get water. Sometimes it was not safe but now we have plenty of water near our homes and this has made our lives more secure. ” The Northern Rangelands Trust in Northern Kenya is a group of conservanices that make conservation a self-sustaining proposition—financially and socially—by providing water, health care, education and jobs for the local community through responsible tourism and complementary agro-pastoralism. Ths makes the community deeply invested in the effort’s success. In earlier conservation efforts, threatened forests and endangered species were protected by uniformed guards. In the NRT, they are protected by women and school children, who have a vested interest in a healthy environment because they benefit directly. Rather than something that has to be guarded from local communities, the environment becomes a source of sustainable economic activity for those communities.
Traditionally, women like Letur, who is a Maa-speaking Samburu were pastoralists, whose livelihoods have traditionally been rooted in semi nomadic cattle, goat and sheep farming across the rangelands of northern Kenya. But as changing times bring increased pressure on natural resources, grazing cattle has become a volatile livelihood, as unpredictable drought and competition with protected wildlife for grazing becomes more frequent. Now she is able to sell her livestock to a market created by NRT.

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