The Journey of sustainable empowerment

TTWCA in partnership with African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) is implementing a TUI Care Foundation funded project, “Creating Value for Wildlife and People in Tsavo, Kenya”. This project is aimed at empowering local communities through engagement in climate-smart agriculture, and diversified livelihood opportunities that leverage on the tourism industry, tied with the provision of water for wildlife, livestock, and people in strategic areas. The project’s ultimate goal is to reduce human-wildlife conflicts, protect crucial habitats and watersheds, alleviate poverty, and decrease dependence on products derived from wildlife and their habitats.

As we look to empower the community and more so women, through this project we have established a model sisal farm with Mr. Patrick Kilonzo, an experienced farmer with over seven years of expertise in this venture. Located in Kajire village, Sagala Ward, this one-acre farm will become a beacon of hope and inspiration for the community’s women, especially those engaged in basket weaving. Mr. Patrick’s mastery in planting and harvesting the best sisal species has become the cornerstone of the model farm. This serves as a demonstration site for budding farmers eager to embrace climate-smart agricultural practices and also offers sisal fibers at a subsidized price to women’s groups dedicated to basket weaving.

The untapped potential of basket weaving, a nature-based enterprise, is being realized in Taita Taveta. In light of this, TTWCA has diligently identified and mapped out basket-weaving groups across the region, including Godoma, Makitau, Mwachabo, Kwamnengwa, Chungaunga, Mngama, and Chawia. The goal is to unearth talented weavers and provide them with comprehensive training in value addition and the production of high-quality end products. To ensure sustainability, 20 women have been selected from the mapped groups to form two groups of ten members each. These empowered women will not only receive training but also gain easy access to fibers from the model farm, relieving them of the financial burden associated with procuring sisal supplies required for this art.

Moreover, TTWCA is also focused on leveraging the incredible potential of the tourism industry by connecting its ranches and conservancies. In this quest, plans to develop a comprehensive tourism circuit are underway. The elaborate plan will seamlessly unite eight remarkable conservancies, including Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Lumo, Teita Estate Conservation Area, Choke, Mgeno, Maungu, Kasigau, and Kasigau Community Land. The tourism circuit plan aims to highlight the rich natural attractions, wildlife dispersal corridors, and conservation areas, as well as the immersive cultural experiences found within the region. It will establish efficient transport gateways, service centers, attraction sites, and well-connected circulation networks within the ranches and conservancies.

This strategic development will enhance the visibility and accessibility of these extraordinary destinations, ensuring that visitors have an unforgettable experience. A comprehensive assessment of the tourism supply is also underway, focusing on accommodations, facilities, amenities, visitor activities, and the necessary enabling infrastructure. The aim is to create a sustainable tourism sector that not only benefits the conservancies but also uplifts the livelihoods of the local communities through established enterprises and ongoing capacity development initiatives.

As we witness the present unfold, the communities of Taita Taveta County bask in newfound hope, pride, and opportunities. The threads of climate-smart agriculture, community empowerment, wildlife conservation, and sustainable tourism are intricately woven together, forming a tapestry of positive change. Guided by the visionary leadership of TTWCA and the unwavering support of the TUI Care Foundation and African Wildlife Foundation, this journey of sustainable empowerment promises a brighter future for both the people and the land.