SIMOO and IIN at Basecamp in Kenya
In 2009, a five-person delegation from the Simba Maasai Outreach Organization (SIMOO) and Indigenous Information Network (IIN) visited Basecamp Maasai Mara in southern Kenya to exchange experiences of sustainable tourism practices, using green energy and practicing water conservation, developing microenterprises, addressing HIV/AIDS and achieving gender equality. “It was very enlightening and beneficial to the participants,” writes Daniel Salau of SIMOO. “We hope this will be the beginning of long-term partnership.”
Basecamp borders the Maasai Mara National reserve along the Talek River. The camp is run by a pure solar power system that is used for lighting and the hot water system. Water used at Basecamp is pumped from a borehole near the Talek River. The brown (used) water goes through a sand filtering cleaning system. Water use is minimized as much as possible and is recycled; all the used water from the shower and sink is collected and re-used to water planted indigenous trees. The eco-lodge was founded on the principles of responsible tourism based on People, Planet and Profit.
The delegates learned that climate is a key resource for tourism:
- Communities, tourism destinations and environments (people and planet) are vulnerable to climate change.
- Forest/trees act as carbon sinks.
- Sustainable ecotourism can improve the well being of local communities living within and around tourism destination globally.
- Tourism moves people more than any other industry in the world to visit some of the world’s remotest areas, thus giving travelers’ philanthropy a big potential to change people’s welfare.
- Lack of local capacity in developing and managing both natural and cultural resources found within local communities.
- Sustainable energy, water and waste management system in Basecamp Maasai Mara should be emulated.
The delegates also saw possible ways forward and areas of partnership
- Sharing experiences, knowledge in areas of solar energy exploitation.
- Entrepreneurship development, especially women’s handicrafts and eco-tourism, among others, and establishing the market for the same.
- More exchange visits between the two communities to consolidate partnership in pertinent areas such as food insecurity, cultural exploitation, climate change and intellectual property rights, among others.
- Localizing human rights issues, e.g. education of girls, anti-FGM (female genital mutilation) campaigns, wildlife/tourism benefits and indigenous peoples’ rights in general.