Building their future: challenging year prompts members of Lake Natron’s Women’s Solidarity Boma to change focus
Loliondo division, a popular stopover for tourists on safari, has been impacted by significantly reduced traffic due to the pandemic.
For the women who are members of two Women’s Solidarity Bomas in the district, this has prompted some innovative alternative sources of income and an opportunity to build skills as a community.
The Women’s Solidarity Bomas are run by women in two communities in Loliondo and overseen by PWC. Bomas are a place for women to live for a year (with any children they might have) to find their feet after a marriage breakdown or other unforeseen events.
Women in the solidarity bomas support each other, share ideas regarding participation in leadership and ways to earn an income.
“The bomas are a way for women to show the men in their community that they can own property and be leaders.” Nalemuta Moisan, Solidary Boma Programme Lead said.
“They discuss women’s rights and issues in the community; if somebody has had their rights violated, they will discuss how to support them. They then go into their wider community to educate people on women’s rights.” she added.
However, with the decline in tourism due to international travel restrictions, their primary income source – selling wood carvings and jewellery to tourists passing through – has been severely impacted.
Climate smart agriculture
The women at the Lake Natron Women’s Solidarity Boma decided to take the opportunity to create infrastructure that will support them long after COVID-19.
With support of the PWC team, an irrigation plan was designed and the boma members commenced work constructing a pipe from Lake Natron into the boma.
The next step is to start growing vegetables that can be sold in town, reducing the boma members’ reliance on tourism for income.
The programme hasn’t been without it’s challenges: “There is a lot of sand around Lake Natron that we had to shift to put in the pipes. We also need to add another layer of topsoil to accommodate the healthy growth of the vegetables planted in the garden.” Nalemuta said.
The women also worked hard to improve their shopfront; planting trees for shade and a fence around the site.
“We thank PWC for how much work they have done to help us. Now that water is available for irrigation and for growing vegetables, we are able to sustain our family and provide for them despite the fact that tourists are not coming during this pandemic,” said a member of the Lake Natron Women’s Solidarity.
“Women know the programme, they are already set up to achieve. But we hope that through all of this, they will keep benefitting long after COVID-19.”