Like many rural areas of the global South (or “developing world”), the effects of climate change are being felt in Maasai communities in Kenya. Droughts that used to be rare are becoming increasingly common. Rainfall patterns, once predictable, are now erratic. The changing climate is putting at risk the long-term viability of the herding livelihoods of the Maasai and other pastoralist societies. Green energy means lower greenhouse gas emissions and more trees left standing to combat desertification, reduce soil erosion, and offset CO2 in the atmosphere.
Solar and wind could provide heat for cooking and refrigeration to store vegetables and fruits in homes, and in health centers to store essential medicines and vaccines. Cell phones and laptops could be powered to facilitate the marketing of crafts and other locally produced goods, along with cross-cultural exchanges via the Web. This could lead to a new model of rural development, where young people don’t feel forced by lack of opportunity to leave for urban slums.
Francis ole Sakuda is the director and one of the founders of the Simba Maasai Outreach Organization (SIMOO) in Kenya. Daniel Salau Rogei is the program/financial officer for SIMOO. Both are local and international leaders in the areas of indigenous rights, livelihoods, community development, and environmental and cultural conservation. They are in NYC as part of a global delegation to the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.