Through community conservancies, many people in northern Kenya are now finding ways to link wildlife conservation to better pasture, higher income, and the growth of sustainable businesses. This is putting more children in school, empowering women through jobs and financial literacy, and building the capacity of rural communities to lift themselves out of poverty.
Tourism plays a major role in providing sustainable, commercial income for many conservancies. Namunyak is perhaps the most successful conservancy in this respect, hosting two tourist facilities – Sarara and Kitich. Revenue earned from Conservancy entry and bed night fees is split 60/40 – with 60% going toward Conservancy operating costs, such as ranger salaries, and 40% going toward community projects.
Last year (2015) a significant proportion of the 40% went towards education bursaries for over 1,000 students from each of the communities that make up Namunyak. The majority of students are aged between 14 and 18, and bursaries are divided equally amongst boys and girls. As well as regular bursaries, further support is offered out of this budget to bright students from especially poor backgrounds, who want to pursue courses such as medicine. In fact, the current head of medical services in Samburu County Government was one such student. Many students awarded university bursaries from Namunyak choose to stay and study in Kenya, but some venture further afield to neighboring countries like Uganda.