Eco Clubs of Kenya is a Community Based Organisation (CBO) working primarily with the Maasai in Kajiadio County, in order to improve their livelihood and reduce the levels of poverty in the community. Eco Clubs of Kenya aims to achieve this by firstly, equipping young people with life skills on how to better manage and protect their environment, and secondly, mentoring young people to better manage the challenges they face due to HIV/AIDS. The clubs’ area of operation is Namanga division in Kajiadio County, which has about 25 primary schools, most of which are poorly equipped with dilapidated and inadequate infrastructure.
How Eco Clubs of Kenya was born Kenya experienced a severe drought in 2005, particularly in the Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASAL). The Maasai were forced to travel long distances in search of pasture and water often coming into conflict with the resident agriculturalists. Many cattle died as a result of the drought. In Kajiadio District – Namanga division, the Maasai pastoralists illegally invading private land in order to access grazing ground. Sensitive negotiations between the pastoralists and the ranch owners, allowed the Maasai to graze their livestock on the private ranches, averted a potential conflict. After this experience, the ranches realised that they had to address the challenges caused by the cyclic droughts if they were to prevent future conflicts over grazing grounds. The reality that such conflicts are inevitable in Kajiado as has been witnessed in other parts of the country.
In order to address this challenge, the ranches agreed on a long term strategy to change the attitude of the Maasai community towards environmental conservation and range management in order to ensure sustainable land use particularly during the drought months. The idea of equipping children through Eco Clubs was thus borne.
Eco Clubs of Kenya also chose to mainstream the challenges of youth sexuality and HIV/AIDS alongside their environmental activities. Youth sexuality for the Maasai is still a big challenge for primary school teachers, who need an extracurricular approach that effectively communicates behavioural change and creates an avenue to address HIV/AIDS challenges peculiar to the Maasai community in Kajiado.
Objectives of Eco Clubs of Kenya
To coach students on environment conservation and management and empower them to influence their immediate environment positively.
To create peer support groups that encourage students to discuss the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS that impact their lives, and empower them to make the right choices concerning their sexuality.
To build the capacity and share knowledge with the teachers and patrons, in the target schools, on issues of environmental and HIV/AIDS.
Some Environment activities of the Eco Clubs of Kenya
Tree planting projects around the school and immediate neighbourhood.
Planting grass for livestock.
Improving and hygiene situation in the school, by building pit latrines and hand washing facilities.
Organising school quizzes, essay writing and painting competitions on environmental topics.