Under the pilot project, Amboseli National Park is being used as a showcase of excellent conservation partnerships between host communities, government, scientists, NGOs and international partners.
“Women are known to play an important role when it comes to conservation issues world over. This is why we are investing in women projects in this region because we can count on you to protect our elephants,” First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said during the launch in Kajiado, southwest of Nairobi.
The Imbirikani women group is being empowered to plan and implement programs that diversify livelihoods from the traditional agriculture and pastoralism to sustainable management of natural resources and other conservation related activities.
The group in Kajiado County is involved in an elephant conservation project sponsored by the Office of the First Lady, Wildlife Direct and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
During the launch, Margaret said stakeholders identified communities co-habiting with the treasured wild animals to pilot the project as they are their first line of defense.
She praised the Imbirikani women group for taking up the challenge to pilot the ambitious idea of turning elephant challenges into opportunities.
“These women have worked so hard on this project despite the difficulties they face on a daily basis-fetching firewood, collecting water, herding livestock, managing their homes, their children and families,” she said.
Margaret, however, said for women to effectively play their rightful role in conservation matters, there is need for eradication of cultural practices that limit their opportunities and possibilities and additional investments in projects that benefit them directly
She said the government is aware that the absence of rural women in the economy held back development and the ability for Kenya to achieve its aspirations to be a wealthy nation.
The First Lady is the Patron of “Hands off our elephants” campaign launched in 2013 by conservationists to save the species from extinction.
“The campaign has made great strides in raising public awareness and mobilizing support for the protection of our elephants,” she added.
Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Judy Wakhungu said poaching levels have gone down courtesy of high penalties and involvement of host communities. Enditem