Help us launch our Hope for Widow's pilot program this year!

Your support will help change the lives of women and girls into the future

Help us launch our Hope for Widow's pilot program this year! image


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Your support will help change the lives of women and girls into the future

"Hope for Widows" Program

Imurtot area widows and chief.


There has been a major change in the land use law in Kenya. The historic communal land ranches for the Maasai tribe (similar to Indian Reservations in the US), called Group Ranches, no longer have legal status. Many of Water is Life Kenya’s projects are located in Group Ranches.

The change in the law has forced each Group Ranch to subdivide its land among registered members. Under the new land subdivision plans, and in order to be able to claim their allocated land parcels, members are required to pay a fee for land surveying costs and paperwork. This fee has proved too much for poor Group Ranch members, especially widows.

Silato Lerakata from imurtot.

This buried inequity became evident to Water is Life Kenya because of our many projects in Olgulului / Ololarashi Group Ranch and our close relationship with community members. WILK promotes gender equity and women’s empowerment through our clean water / WASH, Livestock as a Business and Beaded Handicraft Programs. We learned that these widows stood to be completely disenfranchised due to their inability to pay the fees. We saw the imminent danger of their chasm of poverty being dug deeper, since they would miss out on obtaining this valuable asset.

In fact, we had been observing that the applicant groups to our LAB program don’t include many widows or other extremely poor women. We realized that they have a hard time joining groups because of their inability to pay the membership fees (set by the groups themselves and not particularly high, but unattainable for most of these widows).

Through a generous and caring donor, we were able to pay the fees for 40 widows and their families to secure their rightful land asset. As we collected basic information from these women, the reality began to emerge of the huge burdens these women carry due to lack of resources.

Securing their land was a huge boost to them, but, in fact, they have many needs - reliable income for food, clothing, and school fees. They are under immediate pressure to sell the land for cash to the land brokers circling like starving hyenas.

PictureLilian Leketon from Imurtot.

Hope for Widows Program

To address this vital need we are piloting the “Hope for Widows” program under our Livestock as a Business (LAB) Program. In addition to the adapting the LAB curriculum to address the specific needs of the widows, WILK will provide them seed capital to get a jump start on economic empowerment through a livestock business, so they can propel themselves from survival into meeting their families’ basic needs and build a new level of financial freedom.

This new program is a perfect example of how our Livestock as a Business program is able to expand and replicate not only within our current project area in the Maasai heartland, but also elsewhere.

The program format of working with

  • groups of 15-20 individuals who know each other,
  • learn together and
  • share the responsibility of cow care and loan repayment from purchase to sale has proven successful.

This full cycle of the LAB program takes 13 months and can easily be adapted for other indigenous populations, according to their values and economic resources.

Groups can continue in the LAB program for up to 4 years, with years 2-4 including

  • supplemental training,
  • field trips,
  • the livestock loan and
  • the provision of incentives for implementing drought control strategies like grass management and forage conservation.

Needs Assessment

Water is Life Kenya conducted a needs assessment survey and interviewed 18 widows from the Kajiado County, southern Kenya. They live in our project area, specifically in Olgulului Group Ranch. Below is a summary of those questionnaires.

Click here to see the Summary Report of Widows Questionnaires