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Klein Netto

For a long time , the pastoral community of Musenke Sub-Location in Kajiado County has faced myriad of challenges. These challenges are directly and indirectly attributed to changes in weather pattern, under-development, marginalization, government neglect and harmful cultural/societal practices. Such causative factors have resulted to multiple other problems affecting health, gender equality, education, economic status and use of land. In order to better understand the root causes of gender-based violence (GBV) in this community Spring of the Arid and Semi-arid Lands (SASAL) recently conducted a study.

Article written by

Mana Omar Executive Director

Spring of the Arid & Semi-arid Lands (SASAL), Kenya

Mana Omar is a climate scientist by profession, a climate justice/gender advocate for the indigenous pastoralist communities of Kenya and the Founder and CEO of Spring of the arid and semi-arid lands (SASAL). Mana is also a youth leader with the UN Women Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition, lead of Fridays For Future Kajiado and Refugees for Future Kenya. 

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The study, under the organization’s thematic areas of gender equality & climate resilience, was meant to dig deeper into what factors come to play considering the communities’ state of equality, male-centred/dominant structure as well as climate vulnerability. Lack of access to water and energy were identified as key factors contributing to the prevalence of GBV in the Musenke sub-location. The findings also show that the most common types of GBV experienced by women and girls in the community are psychological/emotional abuse and physical assault. These cases usually occur when they are fetching water, collecting firewood and herding livestock. Early marriage was prevalent during persistent droughts while the risk of rape and attempted rape was promoted by the long-distance treks to rivers and forests to fetch water and collect firewood. Cultural practices played a major role as a contributor to some forms of GBV such as physical assault, emotional abuse and FGM. The lack of sanitation facilities also led to some instances of GBV as women & girls have to find bushes/forested areas to relieve themselves with privacy. This has not only led to different forms of violence, but resulted to pollution & water-borne diseases such as cholera during rainy season as the community relies on close water ponds/bunds during this particular season, increasing the risk of using contaminated water.

In response to these challenges, SASAL introduced the Enkang' model. This multifaceted approach is designed to address the underlying causes of gender-based violence and climate vulnerability, with a focus on practical solutions. It recognizes the interconnectedness and complexity of climate change and hence employs a multi-program approach to create resilient communities. It involves enhancing access to clean and safe water, sanitation facilities, energy, promotion of climate smart agriculture, access to health & educational facilities, modernized living structures etc. Therefore, the model not only contributes to SDG 6 but is also interconnected with other SDGs.

The Enkang' model has shown promising results, with 357 people benefiting from improved livelihoods and 194 females safeguarded from various forms of GBV. This includes physical assault, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), early marriages, rape, and attempted rape, thanks to improved access to essential resources. Moreover, 119 girls are no longer at risk of early marriage, FGM, or school dropout, as they find support in a climate-resilient and self-sustaining community.

The implementation of the model is ongoing and comprises various components, such as modernizing traditional housing structures (Manyattas – traditional houses made of cow dung), providing clean and safe water, fostering climate-smart agriculture to increase food security and improve livestock output, offering professional training on topics like gender equality and financial literacy, empowering women through unique income-generating activities (such as beading activities), utilizing renewable energy sources, preserving and documentation of culture due to the incorporation of indigenous knowledge, establishing early childhood education facilities, improving access to health care, promoting rotational leadership, and last but not least enhancing sanitation facilities.

Since the implementation of the program, particularly the income-generating activities through beading activities, 63 households have already benefited from the program, with each household generating an income of approximately USD 100 in less than a month.

While the journey to implement the Enkang' model has encountered challenges, including issues of trust and funding shortages, it represents a pragmatic and comprehensive approach to addressing the complex issues of gender inequality and climate vulnerability within pastoralist communities. One of the key lessons learned was to build community trust and making the community, e.g. through a 7-member inclusive committee from the same community with regular consultations from different leadership groups (age-group traditional leaders, county & national government leaders, women & youth groups), part of the change process and not only beneficiaries. 

In conclusion, this model is a one-of-a-kind solution, through its focus on practical solutions and integration of the whole community, on the problem of climate vulnerability and gender inequality within a pastoral community setting in Kenya. If the implementation of the project continues to be successfully, it will promote sustainability through contributing to 90% of the SDGs.

Notable support for this project has come from the MCPZ Foundation and the Greenhouse Communications Agency, but additional funding is still being sought to ensure the comprehensive implementation of the Enkang' model.




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