Kalama Community Conservancy were proud to host a VIP delegation from USAID on Wednesday 24th May, that included USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Carrie Thompson, Director of Forestry and Biodiversity for USAID Cynthia Gill and USAID Kenya Mission Director Karen Freeman. USAID are one of NRT's principal donors.
After a tour of Kalama Conservancy headquarters, and an inspection of the rangers, the delegation received a colorful welcome from the women of BeadWORKS. The entrepreneurs, from the women's groups of Sera and Kalama conservancies, discussed their work and how the bead business is impacting their lives. Not wanting to waste valuable business time, they were of course beading their jewelry and decorations as they spoke.
In an address to the women's groups, Mission Director Karen Freeman spoke of their crafts. "You have brought joy and sunshine from Kenya to the United States" she said. She went on to praise the work they were doing for their families, their conservancies, and for Kenya as a whole. "We are so proud to work with you" she said.
USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator Carrie Thompson also addressed the women, opening her speech with a greeting in the local Maa language which was extremely well received. "The reason we come here, to northern Kenya, to meet you all, is that we want to bring back the message to Washington that investing in women helps whole communities" she said.
The delegation were then taken to one of the rangeland rehabilitation sites in Kalama, where invasive acacia has been cleared and bunched grazing encouraged. Despite a drought, and a recent invasion of the conservation area by cattle herders from outside, there were still green shoots appearing from the ground. "This is the reality of the challenges we face in this landscape" said the Kalama grazing coordinator.
After this, the party were accompanied by senior NRT staff to Saruni lodge for lunch.