Maliasili Initiatives
Welcome to the first Maliasili NewsletterMaliasili means ‘natural resources’ in Swahili, the regional language of East Africa, where Maliasili Initiatives’ work is centered.  This newsletter shares updates about the work we’re doing, news from our partners and information about people and conservation in Africa.  You are receiving this newsletter because you are a friend, supporter or colleague of Maliasili Initiatives.  If you do not wish to receive this newsletter or any other alerts from us, please unsubscribe at the bottom of this newsletter.

Finding Our Niche, Growing Our Base

Friends, Colleagues and Supporters,

It gives me great pleasure to introduce Maliasili Initiatives’ first newsletter, which we have developed to improve the flow of information to our partners, supporters, and various friends and colleagues. Over the past year and a half we have experienced rapid growth in our partnerships, programmatic portfolio, and the scope of our activities, along with our own resources and capacity.  All of this growth has better positioned us to pursue our mission of supporting sustainable natural resource management and conservation in Africa.

We began operations last year with a select group of partners that I had a long history of working with and that are established leaders and innovators in the field  - organizations such as the Ujamaa Community Resource Team and Tanzania Natural Resource Forum.   Our work was founded on the belief that we could add value to our partners’ efforts by building their capacity, amplifying their strengths and addressing gaps and weaknesses.  This is what we see as one of Maliasili Initiatives’ core roles in the sustainable development and natural resource community: to use our skills and networks to build the capacity of talented, high-impact African organizations to make them more effective and able to take their work to scale.  This role fits our experience and skillset, but it is also a glaring gap in the natural resource field in Africa. The most effective and influential local organizations in Africa, despite their track record in the field, consistently struggle to secure the human, financial, and technical resources they need to maximize their impact and scale up their operations.  We are committed to changing this.

During our first year and a half we have found that our initial theory of adding value, capacity and support to organizations has been valued by our partners as well as other collaborators.  Currently, we are working with most of our partners on strategic planning or organizational change processes that we have jointly identified as priorities.  These initiatives aim to clarify our partners’ strengths and weaknesses, identify resource needs, and develop realistic and achievable plans for improved performance and impact. Despite the great diversity in composition and circumstance among our partners, they all share similar needs in terms of thinking through and planning for growth and change.

We have also identified a niche in facilitating collaboration amongst diverse actors with shared interests in sustainable natural resource management at landscape or global scales.  For example, we have been working on a collaborative effort in northern Tanzania, where Maliasili Initiatives’ has its deepest roots, with the nascent Northern Tanzania Rangelands Initiative. This initiative brings together our local partner, Ujamaa Community Resource Team, with The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society and other collaborating organizations to articulate a shared vision and plan for this important region.

As we have deepened our partnerships and expanded our portfolio, we face the need to expand our own resources to support these growing commitments. Last year Maliasili was effectively a one-man outfit, with all the constraints inherent to that arrangement. But this year I have been joined by my long-time colleague, Andrew Williams, who has been leading much of the fieldwork with our partners, such as our recent support to community land tenure issues in Kenya’s Laikipia District, as described below.  This month, Jessie Davie, another past collaborator on work in northern Tanzania, begins providing support to our communications efforts, including development of this newsletter.

All of our progress and achievements over the last 20 months have been made possible by the core financial support to Maliasili Initiatives provided by the Acacia Conservation Fund, without which Maliasili would never have gotten off the ground. Over the next year, we aim to continue identifying new opportunities where we can strategically add value and provide support to talented and committed partners doing cutting edge work around the intersections of natural resource conservation, sustainable enterprise, and social justice in Africa.  We will do this while also ensuring our human and financial capacity grows in line with our work in the field. We look forward to continuing collaboration with many of you as we continue down this road. 

Fred Nelson
Executive Director, Maliasili Initiatives
Securing Land Rights and a Future for People in the Yaeda Valley
The critical foundation of community-based conservation in Africa is secure communal rights over land and the ability to benefit from wildlife and other natural resources.  In northern Tanzania, where landscapes support the greatest assemblage of wildlife on earth, this is especially true.  The Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), one of Maliasili’s focal partners in northern Tanzania, is a leading organization working on community-based natural resource management in the region.  Understanding the importance of rights and benefits for community-based conservation, UCRT works with marginalized pastoralist and hunter-gatherer communities to strengthen their rights over land and resources for improved conservation, social justice and community empowerment.  

Read more here...
Securing Land Rights for Pastoralist Women
Insecure or unrecognized land rights is one of the foremost threats to human well-being, security, and opportunities for entrepreneurship and investment in Africa.  And for women in northern Tanzania’s pastoralist communities, this challenge is magnified. Women in these communities already face gender-based discrimination through cultural norms and practices that subordinate women socially and economically. For example, women do not traditionally own land or cattle, the economic mainstays of the pastoral system.  This has implications for their options to control food production or earn revenue.  
Supporting Wildlife Policy Development in South Sudan
In addition to our core work with local partner organizations, Maliasili Initiatives also looks for opportunities to engage at higher scales - national to global - where there is a strategic or catalytic role that we can play.  Inevitably such higher-scale work is done in close collaboration with one or more larger collaborating organization. Often this occurs when such organizations seek us out to provide technical advice or support as a contracted consultant. Such arrangements give us opportunities to leverage our skills and limited resources as well as expand our global network.  It also provides an opportunity for us to generate revenue that we can re-invest in our own programs and operations. 

Read more here...
Laikipia Land and Unity Initiative
Over the last three months Maliasili Initiatives has been supporting the Laikipia Unity and Land Initiative in central Kenya. Working closely with the Zeitz Foundation, which is facilitating the Initiative, as well as other funding partners including The Nature Conservancy Africa Program and the Laikipia Wildlife Forum, Maliasili is providing technical support for the research component of the Initiative.

Laikipia is one of Kenya’s richest wildlife areas, but also faces major land tenure problems which are adversely affecting the quality of local communities’ livelihoods and the health of the areas' ecosystem.  

Read more here...
Lion Guardians Wins Environmental Prize 
In April, the Kenyan organization, Lion Guardians, won the prestigious St Andrews Prize for the Environment. The prize, awarded at St. Andrews University and structured as a collaboration between the University and the energy company, ConocoPhillips, is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to environmental conservation. The first-place award consists of a $100,000 cash prize granted annually.

Read more here...
Meet Our Partners
A conversation with Edward Loure, Coordinator of the Ujaama Community Resource Team...

1. Can you briefly explain what UCRT is all about?
Ujamaa-Community Resource Team (UCRT) is a non-profit environmental and social justice organization that works with indigenous groups of different cultures. We target communities that depend on communal resource management systems to support their livelihood.

Read the entire interview here.
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