HOW WE WORK
Photo by Oscar Mann
Our first principle is to ensure that we work from within the Maasai community, not as outsiders looking in. To this end, we have adopted several strategies originally devised and applied globally by our two world-renowned advisers, Merle Lefkoff and Dr. Naresh Singh, and other thinkers and practitioners in the world of developing sustainable livelihoods.
Merle Lefkoff is a mediator, facilitator, social change entrepreneur and leadership trainer in conflict zones around the world.
Dr. Singh is an international development practitioner and a specialist in program design and evaluation. Both are authors, public speakers and educators.
The key themes and best practices that we follow are:
a) ASSETS: Identifying and mapping all the assets of the community. These range from knowing how to slaughter a cow to being able to walk 50 miles in a day to owning 12 sheep to knowing which herbs to give a pregnant woman and how to prepare them. Becoming aware of such assets is the first step towards devising sustainable livelihoods, as often, such assets are simply taken for granted and not seen as valuable tools.
b) DEVELOPMENTAL EVALUATION: The world of development aid has matured in wise and wonderful ways. Authors like Michael Quinn Patton have found ways in which to evaluate highly complex, changing systems. Today, developmental evaluation supports social innovation and adaptive management and uses a system of ongoing data gathering and documentation, analysis, evaluation and adaptation led by the community itself in a conscious rather than a random manner.
c) LEGAL EMPOWERMENT OF THE POOR: permanent positive change in poverty-stricken communities cannot take place unless and until they enjoy the same legal and human rights as their wealthier compatriots. Over four billion people in the world, including all indigenous peoples, live and work in the "informal" sector of society, beyond the rule of law. They suffer injustice and indignity in every aspect of their lives and are condemned to continue thus unless ways are found in which they are informed, included and empowered to know and demand their rights.
We are working with Assistant Chief Nickson Parmisa and our Kitengela local support group to identify community members of all ages and genders who would form our community team with these three principles in mind. Their roles would be:
...to ensure that everyone in the community understands Acacia Moyo's principles and goals
...to be the coordinators of documentation, data gathering, evaluation and analysis
...to lead community forums and decisions on desired positive social change, income-producing activities, shared community wealth and other aspects of developing sustainable livelihoods.
...to lead and monitor the impact of Acacia Moyo programs
...to enroll as many individuals as possible in our courses, particularly for our first learning project, the community vegetable garden
...to ensure that we and our staff have truly heard the community and are adapting our programs as we go along according to the community's stated needs and the results of our ongoing evaluations