Reaching the Unreachable
“Introducing the Ilkerin Loita Integral Development Programme”
In Kenya, some 300 km south of Nairobi, along the common Kenyan/Tanzanian border, lie the rolling hills of Loita, home of some 20,000 Loita Pastoralist Maasai, a subset of the Maasai Community.
The region is remote and effectively without infrastructure. This, combined with the Loita’s traditional reputation as the most conservative of the Maasai, has contributed to their status as one of the ‘unreachable’ people of the world.
The life of the Maasai revolves around their cattle. In a country where land is becoming scarce and a constant source of conflict a project of land management and livestock upgrading has proven life-saving and a source of reconciliation with surrounding communities.
The Ilkerin Loita Integral Development Programme is owned and managed by the pastoralist Loita community. It covers an area of 1700 sq.km.
The programme has its origin in a dialogue between the Catholic Diocese of Ngong (near Nairobi) and the Loita Maasai pastoralists, which took place in 1968. After years of talks, friendship-making and exchanging the latest developments which the Maasai call ‘eating the news’, an agreement was reached.
During this period the project’s basic philosophy was defined. It stemmed from the simple belief that with appropriate training, motivation and skills, communities are capable of using available and potential resources in order to transform and improve their present and future lives.
Thirty-five years on the Ilkerin Loita Integral Development Project remains a showcase for real sustainability and what a community can do for itself!
It is the project’s vision that the Loita Maasai pastoralists will become more aware, motivated and organised to confront, and manage, their personal and communal needs.