ABOUT THE PROJECT. The cradle of mankind
Marsabit is a county of approximately 70,691 km2 in the far north of Kenya, bordering Ethiopia. It has a unique landscape mixing arid desert and beautiful forest clustering extinct volcanic craters. As such, it is home to a wide diversity of wildlife and was previously known for its particularly large elephants – big tuskers.
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) is an umbrella organisation established in 2004 whose mission is to establish resilient community conservancies that transform lives, secure peace and conserve natural resources in northern Kenya. The NRT currently supports 33 community conservancies in 9 counties, home to 300,000 people of 16 different ethnic groups.
In 2013 the NRT pioneered the establishment of 3 conservancies in Marsabit – Shurr, Songa and Jaldesa. The aim of these conservancies was to build peace and sustainable enterprise, implement natural resource management plans and carry out a wide range of conservation activities.
Ethnic groups in these conservancies include Rendille, Borana and Gabbra. Together, the three conservancies cover 5.810km2 and are home to approximately 25,000 people. Around 80% of the population are nomadic pastoralists – moving their villages to find new pasture for their livestock.
92% of the population live below the poverty line. Communities here have not traditionally placed value on formal education. The county has the lowest literacy rates in Kenya with only 22% and 27% of the population that can read and write respectively.
This problem of illteracy is mostly due to cultural practices and extreme poverty. It is exacerbated by a lack of proper infrastructure in schools in terms of classrooms, toilets and perimeter fencing. The majority of the schools are more than 5km from the community, making access for students and teachers challenging. This has resulted in understaffing, high student teacher ratios and poor quality teaching.