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Leading by Example: A Decision Maker Transforms the Pastoral Community

Hon. Jackline Koin stands out in her Maasai community as a symbol of visionary female leadership. The Kajiado County Executive Member for Agriculture has just started her second five-year term and is excited to continue using this platform to advocate for climate adaptation within her pastoral community.

Going back to his beginnings, Hon. Koin is a living example of the benefits of educating girls in a society where boys are the default priority, and how it can bring transformative change to an entire society. Maa being traditionally a patriarchal society, she defied all odds not only to attain quality education but also to become a leader of government. Her life and career choices, as she recounts, were influenced by her desire to see a society free from social injustice and inequality. She grew up seeing young women forced into early marriages and some running away from home. Women were relegated to subordinate roles, but their decisions were the backbone of the whole village.

In recent months, Kajiado County, among many others in Kenya, has been ravaged by drought, which is believed to be the worst in 40 years. The Maa’s reliance on fodder has seen countless families move their cattle across the county, which in turn causes strain on available resources and tensions between neighboring communities. Hon. Koin has worked with partners to conduct community education on available alternatives, so Maa can change their mindset towards resilience in their own locality, to protect their lives and livelihoods.

“We managed to formulate a livestock feeding strategy, what we need now is a communication strategy so that we can share solutions in a way that will be accepted and quickly,” said- she declared.

She works with community workers and walks around educating people, sharing her own experiences as an animal breeder and what she is doing differently to adopt. It helps the community see a tangible example of what works, and some are imitating. “On the one hand, I didn’t move my own cattle and decided to grow hay on my own farm, which I harvested, fed my cattle and sold to my neighbours,” he said. she stated.

She and her officers also encouraged the Maa to consider farming, and some families took up tomato and onion farming. This diversified their income and gave a lifeline to many families.

What is essential is the need for mechanisms to trigger behavior change, as most land and livestock owners among the Maa are older men, who tend to resist change and are not keen on admit that what they have been doing for generations may no longer be beneficial. .

“It’s a case of traditional knowledge refusing to embrace science. A resistance to something new, and unknown, in favor of the comfort of the familiar. We need to change mindsets in order to have more resilience workers,” she said.

However, there is hope. And that comes from the most unlikely, sometimes powerless quarters.

“Women and young people are our main target groups, they have proven to be early adopters and also spread the word when they try something that works well. They are also more adept at innovation and adapt faster to the digital world, so they have more access to information for better decision-making. Those who are not informed are left behind, so we need to raise awareness through communication. If we target the right groups, we move faster,” she said.

Hon. Koin is famous for having been appointed to this role for two consecutive terms and having managed to reduce the agricultural budget there from less than 4% to less than 15%. It’s no small party in Kajiado, known for herding rather than farming, but she now embraces both under her leadership.

His ministry offers approaches to persuade ranchers to stockpile hay for use during dry seasons, while educating farmers to grow pastures that are tough and able to survive hot weather conditions.