This bee-keeping initiative inTanzania is giving 1,200 Maasai women financial independence, while turning them into conservationists of the land they live on.
This bee-keeping initiative in Tanzania is transforming the lives of 1,200 Maasai women.
It is giving them financial independence while turning them into conservationists of the land they live on.
The aim is to produce thousands of hives which will be home to natural pollinators in protected landscapes.
At night the women on the Maasai Steppe are busy with their harvest. One by one, hives stored in the branches of the trees are lowered to the ground and the honeycomb carefully removed.
The hives are then again restored high up in the canopy. The Steppe itself is massive, stretching from the Usambara to the Great Rift Valley across the borders of Kenya to Ethiopia.
This bee-keeping initiative is focused in the area outside the Tarangire National Park in Tanzania.
Most of the people who live here are Maasai, many are are now semi-nomadic, raising cattle in the traditions which have lasted for centuries.
The women own and run their bee keeping operation as a business. Their initial funding in the form of micro grants and training comes from a non-profit organisation called African Wildlife and People (AWP).
The idea is that the women don't repay the organisation from the sale of their honey, but instead they agree to a commit their time and energies to conservation work.
This can be tree planting, village cleanups, or environmental education where the women go to schools and villages to talk about environmental problems and conservation.
According to AWP attitudes towards conservation improves if local people are involved in these activities.
Samson John Beah helps runs the beekeeping program for African People and Wildlife.
He says: "Beekeeping is important for this Maasai community because they've demonstrated hard work and a long history of protecting the environment. Therefore, the beekeeping project is a venture that protects their environment while also securing some income for them, for their needs through selling honey and other beekeeping products.
According to Beah: "The objective of this project is both conservation and generating income from the environment."
AWB believes rural women are the best to spread the message for sustainable development, that it argues is critical to long-term conservation success.
It says almost 1,200 women are involved with the schemes and there are now more than 1,300 hives being planted in the wild bush for harvesting.