Preserving our Society
Perhaps the most important issue we face is the number of people competing for resources on our planet. Despite the vast and seemingly empty spaces, Northern Kenya is no exception. There have been many noble efforts to introduce contraceptives and family planning, however, many Samburu continue to have between 5 and 12 children.
The Milgis trust is starting a movement that will give the Samburu a different perspective on 'family planning'. The movement is called 'Ramat e Losho' (REL), which best translates into 'preserving our society'. We are building a platform to showcase the population explosion and all of the disasters that can be associated with it. Our hope is that people can better understand their roles in building a more sustainable future.
Through the eyes of the people
It is difficult to fathom overpopulation when your nearest neighbour is 50 kilometres away. Most pastoralists have never been to big towns, let alone the sprawling cities found across the continent. From the ground they appear to live in a never-ending rangeland that can still support many more people. When told that there are too many livestock, most pastoralists would disagree - arguing that their parents had twice the number of livestock. They have not been shown that in fact there nearly 12 times the amount of people compared to when their parents were young, and as a result less livestock per capita however more livestock overall which the land can no longer sustain.
The human and livestock population in Northern Kenya has surpassed its threshold and if nothing is done to educate people what is happening then it will be a difficult road ahead. This is largely because the Samburu cannot see for themselves what is happening in the bigger picture. Furthermore, until recently, a majority of these people have been sceptical of modern contraceptives because of the surrounding 'taboo'.
A warrior walking along with his herd of livestock may come across the occasional ditch. Oblivious to the bigger picture, he goes around it and finds grass elsewhere.
What he does not realise is that thousands of erosion gullies are consuming more than half of the soil that he relies on to feed his livestock which has now been decimated due to the overgrazing of the land.
We employ a lady who travels to different locations and is the forefront of our family planning program. For 6 years Mary has worked tirelessly with all of the communities within our area. She talks with people at all levels of the society and teaches them why family planning is important. She works with CHAT who in turn work with the government to provide modern contraception.
Mary holding a community meeting
Our mobile film units are used to screen the 'ramat e losho' film that was recently made - click to watch
This film helps demonstrate our wholistic approach to conservation - there is no point in doing conservation unless we all open our eyes to what effects overpopulation is having on our natural surroundings.
Community Health Africa Trust (CHAT)
Shanni Wreford-Smith and her dedicated team have contributed immensely to providing access to family planning solutions in the region. In conjunction with Government of Kenya and Milgis Trust, CHAT carry out mobile clinics every year. They are specialists in family planning and provide modern and effective contraception for rural communities around Kenya. We value their support immensely and strive to work closely together in the future.
FP the natural way - Bracelets & Necklaces
Thanks to the clever initiative through the Haller foundation we were introduced to a very simple but effective strategy The necklaces and bracelets are designed to help women track their menstrual cycle, so that both husband and wife are aware of the ovulation period.
This very simple strategy is designed to provide family planning solutions in area's where modern contraception is culturally misunderstood. Before these bracelets where introduced, many women in the area believed that their fertile time was during their period. We find that the Samburu have responded very well to these basic, yet effective tools.
This ruler, which lays out the menstrual cycle per day, is given to the older girls in all primary schools in the area. Also, our secondary school students take the rulers to their respective schools and share the idea with their classmates. It provides an effective means of mitigating risk of pregnancy.