First Maasai-Owned Project Awarded Ksh1M by UN

Nelson Ole Reiya who is the founder of the Nashulai Maasai Conservancy
Nelson Ole Reiya who is the founder of the Nashulai Maasai Conservancy
Thompson Rueters Foundation

On Tuesday, September 29, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) named Nashulai Maasai conservancy, which was founded by Nelson ole Reiyia among the winners of its 2020 Equator Prize Award.

The conservancy, which is the first-ever Maasai-owned and -directed conservancy in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, was among 10 winners awarded a cash prize of US$10,000 (Approx Ksh1,080,000) for their work.

"The winners show us the value of working with nature, for climate action, for water security and for inclusive prosperity.

Watch the video of Nashulai Maasai conservancy below:

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"They show us the importance of putting nature at the very heart of sustainable development. Their stories provide a blueprint for solving our planetary emergency," Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator stated.

The award recognises communities for significant work that showcases innovative, nature-based solutions for biodiversity, climate change and development challenges.

In a previous interview, Reiya, who is a social entrepreneur explained that he was using the camp as a platform to eradicate poverty in his community by educating a new generation of leaders.

Nashulai Maasai Conservancy covers an estimated 5000 acres linking Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve and two other large conservancies.

It’s a keystone place in the heart of the Mara ecosystem, an ancient elephant nursery, wildlife refuge, and migratory corridor from the Serengeti up to the Northern Mara.

"It shares benefits directly with the local community by paying land lease fees on the community land, sharing a percentage of bed occupancy fees, and provides employment opportunities to youth from the local villages," Reiya stated.

The Equator Initiative is a United Nations-led, a multi-sectoral partnership that brings together governments, civil society, academia, businesses and grassroots organisations to recognise and advance local, nature-based sustainable development solutions for people, nature, and resilient communities.

A sign-board for Nashulai Maasai Conservancy
A sign-board for Nashulai Maasai Conservancy.

It offers a unique platform to celebrate success, inform global policymaking, and support local leadership in advancing innovative projects in sustainable development and climate issues.

Since its inception in 2002, the Equator Prize has recognized the innovative work of 255 community initiatives from 82 countries that are helping to protect the environment and tackle climate change while advancing their own sustainable development priorities.