Providing emergency food relief during COVID-19 Pandemic

Name of Project: Emergency Food Relief Project

Manager: Maurice Simiyu- Sanctuary Olonana-Sanctuary Retreats

Location of Project: Maasai Mara, Kenya

Located on the banks of Mara River, in the heart of vast and beautiful Masai Mara landscape, Sanctuary Olonana’s sustainability journey bears a string of global awards, and even more impressive the Gold ecorating certification awarded by Ecotourism Kenya. The recognitions are a fitting symbol of the property’s commitment to promoting sustainable tourism in Kenya.

Since the establishment of the property over two decades ago, and its subsequent refurbishment into a lodge, Sanctuary Olonana which belongs to the portfolio of Sanctuary Retreats has worked hand in hand with the local community where it conducts business, to promote development on a far more successful and sustainable scale. Through the Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy and partnership with Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, the facility has identified and supported a myriad of projects in the local community.

One of the most crucial projects that was initiated by the facility is the Safe Water for Schools Initiative, which involve provision of water filters to schools, enabling purification of drinking water. This has helped to reduce the incidences of water borne diseases among students. Besides provision of water filters to schools, Sanctuary Olonana also runs school feeding programme at Enkerreri Primary School, and has provided locals with employment opportunities at the lodge so they can be able to earn income. Even more remarkable, is the facility’s commitment to women empowerment.  It has provided a space at its gift shop to local women to display and sell their beadworks directly to guests at no cost.

Local women displaying beadworks at the gift shop

Meeting the aspirations of local communities through delivery of sustainable development projects is no small feat. It is thanks to the guests who choose to stay with Sanctuary Olonana during their safari to Kenya, that the facility has been able in both big and small ways to positively influence the livelihoods of communities. With the pandemic setting foot into our country, tourism being grounded to a halt and the facility unable to generate revenue, the livelihoods of the communities that the facility had supported over the years were at great stake. Women were unable to sell their beadworks at the lodge, local employees unable to earn any income and students of Enkerreri Primary School no longer getting meals at the school. Undoubtedly, there was dire need of solutions in any form or shape. The facility adopted Emergency Food Relief Project to keep the communities afloat during these very unprecedented times and the rest is history.

The success so far

What started as a conceived idea has gone on to successfully become an important accomplishment in Sanctuary Olonana’s sustainability journey, considering the devastating impacts that the pandemic has had on tourism. To set the ground running, the facility embarked on communicating to its donors and partners with a call for support, and the good news is that the donors were more than willing to step in. The facility now provides Enkerreri Primary School, Enkerreri Village and its neighbors 30 kilograms of beans, 25 kilograms of rice and 12 kilograms of flour each month for the last three months. So far 43 households and 19 Enkerreri staff members are benefiting from the support, with the total number of beneficiaries being approximately 377 people.

Members of the local community assembled in a socially distanced manner to receive the food donations.

What you can do to take part in the initiative

The Emergency Food Relief Project by Sanctuary Olonana demonstrates the unique ability of tourism to safeguard livelihoods in the local communities even in the midst of a global pandemic. Further, it is a microcosm of what is possible through shared values and shared sacrifices. The success realized so far with this initiative is thanks to the generous contribution of the donors, and for that Sanctuary Olonana is eternally grateful, and is encouraging you to also be part of this important cause.

If you wish to donate to this initiative, please visit the Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy website. For any queries or comments regarding this project, please feel free to contact the philanthropy’s Kenya Program Coordinator at sstrothmann@akphilanthropy.org

Sanctuary Olonana has currently opened its doors and is delighted to welcome you back again and continue sharing with you the fascinating world that lies ahead!


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