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The Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi) is one of Africa's most endangered large mammals. Once hunted for its magnificent skin, the Grevy’s zebra is now threatened by habitat loss due to land degradation, limited access to water, poaching, and disease.
Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) works exclusively with local communities in northern Kenya to protect the Grevy’s zebra and its habitat. The GZT approach is founded on the intrinsic link between the Grevy’s zebra and human livelihoods, and the fragile ecosystem they both rely on to survive.
The Nkirreten Project, located in Samburu County, Kenya, establishes a crucial connection between wildlife conservation and women's empowerment. Specifically, the project is designed to protect the endangered Grevy's zebra while empowering local women through the production of reusable zebra-striped sanitary pads.
The production of these pads is an income-generating activity for the women, and the use of pads contributes to preserving the dignity of the communities’ women and school-going girls in the region. The participating women and school-age girls learn not only about conservation but also about menstrual health and how to use the pads hygienically. The program also ensures that girls are not missing out on their education due to lack of sanitary pad supplies. Also, as the pads are reusable, this reduces environmental waste in the Samburu region.
In 2020 and 2021, we successfully raised awareness within the Saasab and Naisunyai communities, distributing 300 pads to local women as part of these efforts. We have also distributed pads to 13 schools across Westgate, Kalama, Namunyak, and Maibae Conservancies, benefiting both primary and secondary school girls. In total, 1,117 pads have been distributed to support their educational pursuits.
The zebra-striped design of these pads not only serves as a practical solution but also serves as a symbol that raises awareness about the ongoing conservation efforts. This initiative is further strengthened through partnerships with local schools and local women, fostering a sense of community engagement and promoting both wildlife conservation and sustainable livelihoods.
The project has encountered challenges in raising awareness in some remote communities but has witnessed considerable success in empowering women economically and educating them about conservation. Positive attitudes from participants have been observed, as evidenced by feedback and engagement in community initiatives.
“Am so happy to see my fellow community women and teenage girls visit me and see how I make the reusable pads are able to easily access the pads anytime they are in need them,” says Naimutie from Nkutuk Ongiron village.
“My family is now happy because I can provide food for them from my work of making pads and am also able to pay school fees for my schooling kids and at the same time take care of my blind husband and my deaf sister,” says Masia from Nkutuk Ongiron village.
“My husband was a ranger a conservancy taking care of wild before he got sick and paralysed. He is now happy that am able to provide for him and children through conservation of Grevy’s zebra,” says Ntiliken from Naisunayai village.
The project aims to expand its reach to more schools and communities in 2024, continuing to integrate conservation awareness and empowerment. This approach aligns with GZT's holistic conservation strategy, which focuses on benefiting local communities while conserving wildlife.
Yes, you are encouraged to visit the project site to witness its impact firsthand. Contact Belinda Low to arrange a visit.