Welcome to the first Maliasili Newsletter
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.
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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
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.
Executive Director, Maliasili Initiatives
Securing Land Rights and a Future for People in the Yaeda Valley
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
Read more here...
Securing Land Rights for Pastoralist Women
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
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
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.
Read more here...
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.
|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
Read the entire interview here.