Ol Malo


At present we are working in two areas – Muridjo and Kipsing. Our vision is to take these current projects, which have been created as a blue print, and multiply them, moving north throughout Samburuland. As each project area reaches the ‘end of the beginning’ we will move on to a new area and begin all over again, leaving a sustainable infrastructure behind us.

Elephants carve paths through Samburuland on their annual northerly migration, utilising available sources of food and water as they go. They teach their young to follow this route, generation after generation. It is these paths which we will follow as we move north, implementing our model. The elephants are ultimately linked to what we are trying to achieve: an environment where people, their livestock, and wild animals live together in symbiosis, and share and benefit from the available resources.

Each Ol Malo project is able to function on its own, yet a comprehensive and fully interlinked group of projects works far more successfully: addressing the ground-roots, overall problems faced by the Samburu, rather than individual issues which can only be treated superficially. Our aim is to increase the beauty, strength and worth of each project through their union.

‘An ecosystem is a tapestry of species and relationships. Chop away a section, isolate that section, and there arises the problem of imbalance. An ecosystem – under certain specifiable conditions – loses diversity the way a mass of uranium sheds neutrons. Plink, plink, plink, extinctions occur. Species disappear. Whole categories of plants and animals vanish’

David Quammen, ‘The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions’. Mackays of Chatham PLC. 1996

When Julia left University she started employing six women in the Sampiripiri Arts Workshop – initiating the Naaripisho beading programme. The relationship she had with them led her to visit their tribal homes – manyattas – where she began to understand the culture and the problems that these people were facing. These women also began to bring their sick children in to the workshop, to ask for help – among them a number of tuberculosis sufferers requiring long-term monitoring, and many suffering from drought-related ailments. Looking after the sickly children led Julia to start up the L’chekuti Painting Programme, so that the children could come every day for monitoring and provision of the correct medicine and nutritious food [during the 2006 drought, 600 children came to the Arts Workshop to receive help].

The Francombe family knew they couldn’t employ every woman who asked for a job. At this time (1999) there was a severe drought, so the Sayen E Ndaa ‘Beads For Food’ Programme was established, which provided employment for every women in the surrounding area. During this time there were 300 – 400 women on the programme.

Because of the trust building up between Ol Malo and the Samburu women and children, the people were coming in for help with numerous medical problems – including the eye disease, trachoma, and severe leg and foot disorders caused by jiggers and snake bites. Medical projects set up in response included the Ol Malo Eye Project (Lpapit Longonyek Trachoma Eradication Programme) and the Ol Malo Leg / Foot Project.

In order to eradicate trachoma, which is spread by poor health and hygiene, it is necessary for the people to have access to clean water. Having spent more and more time with the people, and having seen firsthand the conflicts caused by lack of water between the people and the wildlife, the Trust decided to undertake a survey, ultimately setting up the Silango Water Project to provide a water source within 30 minutes walk of every manyatta.

By this stage the drought was over; but it became clear that the L’chekuti project should continue indefinitely. It was also clear that the children needed more than just a painting and feeding programme – hence the idea of the Nkera Education Programmes, providing children with the opportunity to attend nursery school and obtain an education up to primary level.

In 2006 the Ol Malo Lodge and Ol Malo Trust received the highest accolade awarded in‘The First Choice Responsible Tourism Awards’: the largest of their kind in the world. Organised by online travel agent responsibletravel.com, in association with World Travel Market, ‘The Times’ and ‘Geographical Magazine’, and supported by Conservation International, the Awards recognise organisations in the travel industry that are making a significant commitment to responsible tourism.

The central tenet of the Awards is that all types of tourism – from niche to mainstream – can and should be operated in a way that respects and benefits destinations and local people.

The Ol Malo Lodge and Trust received the award for ‘Overall Joint Winner’, along with that for ‘Best for Poverty Reduction’ in the 2006 Awards.


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