Last week, Ecotourism Kenya was represented in Laikipia County by Mercy Onyango, our officer for research, advocacy and community outreach programs. The World Vision’s IMARA program team once again invited us to build the capacity of the Maasai women of Namayiana Cultural Center. This is in line with IMARA program’s objective to build the capacity of Laikipia community enterprises on beadwork and ecotourism. The focus topics were on innovative ecotourism product development, customer service, responsible marketing and communication, stakeholder engagement and effective community involvement. The cultural center falls within the user rights of Mukogodo forest association(CFA).

The week-long exercise was marked with interactive discussions, practical role-plays for the improvement of skills and a unique engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders on the last day of the exercise. The stakeholders present were Daniel Nyeusi (MCA Mukogodo East), Michael Dyer (Owner of Borana Lodge), and Elizabeth Kariuki (Tourism Office Laikipia County). These three in the order of their mention are presenting certificates to the groups as shown in the first three photos below. Other stakeholders were Wilfred Lesiit (Chairperson of the Mukogodo Community Forest Association, Simon (Trade Department of Laikipia County Government), staff of World Vision, youth, women and men of Namayiana cultural center. Some of the moments captured on photos during the activity are shown in this article.

           

With the beautiful hills surrounding the cultural center, hiking poses as one of the activities that a guest can experience. The heartwarming songs and dances by the women in the welcoming moment are extremely homely. A visit to Namayiana is an encounter with the authentic Maasai culture and its people.

                                                   

Women sitting by their newly built office & curio shop                 Staff of Borana Lodge presenting certificates

The cultural center is still in its early stages of development and has not accomplished most of its development initiatives. They have four authentic manyattas constructed by women from locally available materials. The manyattas can be used for accommodation by any visitor interested in experiencing the feeling of staying in a traditional Maasai manyatta. They intend to construct even more manyattas and compliment their accommodation services with camping materials for camping enthusiasts.

They also have a conferencing hall under construction, as soon as it is completed, it would be exciting to explore community-based conferencing facilities by those in the Laikipia region and beyond. Cognizant of the importance of effective stakeholder engagement, the cultural center ensures healthy long term relationships with their stakeholders and partners built on trust and reciprocity.

As the engagement with this developing community enterprise continues, it is important to identify channels that will upscale their operations. Some of these include enhancing their marketing skills, promoting partnerships and linkages between the cultural center and tour operators who have cultural tours or village visits in the packages they offer, training them on product diversification and development as well as sustainable consumption and production best practices that conserve the environment. Improving their exposure and influencing benchmarking exercises with already developed community-based & women-owned cultural centers in Laikipia, e.g. Twala Tenebo and will improve their capacities.

Since they are found within a forest, they have a responsibility of implementing environmental-friendly practices. This will ensure their community involvement in tourism as a local economic development activity has a seamless connection and contribution to the conservation of the natural resource base that they have access to. Ecotourism Kenya is happy to have been part of the capacity building exercise for women at Namayiana Cultural Center.
To visit or know more about Namayiana, kindly contact the Elizabeth (Chairlady Namayiana cultural center) on +254772517698.

 

Ecotourism Kenya
Research, Advocacy & Community Outreach Programs
programs@ecotourismkenya.org

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