A field station
in the Maasai Steppe

The following page provides a summary of the main cooperation projects, training and research activities implemented by Istituto Oikos and its local partners in the Meru-Kilimanjaro ecosystem. These experiences are at the roots of the Mkuru Training Camp establishment and guided its development.

Cooperation Projects

Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: Mediafriends foundation and Intervita (until March 2013) Period: long term program started in 2006

Objective: to increase health conditions, including nutritional status, of about 8,400 school children (aged 6 to 16 years) and to improve school facilities in 22 schools (18 primary schools and 4 secondary schools) in 8 rural villages in the Oldonyo Sambu and Ngarenanyuki Wards, Arumeru District.

Achieved results:
  • Vegetable and fruit gardens established in 16 schools
  • Kitchen provided with energy efficient stoves built in 11 schools.
  • Awareness raising and educational programs of correct nutrition addressed to teachers and families realized in all schools.
  • Environmental education programs implemented in all schools.
  • Solar panels available in 17 primary schools and 3 secondary schools.
  • Access to safe water and sanitation facilities in all schools.
  • School material (furniture, educational material, computers) and playgrounds for 4 primary schools.
Long term objectives include the following:
  • Percentage of malnourished children reduced of at least 50% by 2015.
  • Appropriate school meals provided on daily basis in all schools of the area.
  • Educational programs of correct nutrition and environmental good practices.
  • Additional solar panels to power more classes and computers.
  • Improvement of existing vegetables gardens and establishment of new ones.
  • School material for all students and playgrounds for all primary schools.

Learn more about this project.

Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action (for the start-up): Charity and Defence of Nature Trust; Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Period: long term program started in 2006

Objective: improve Maasai women's standard of living in 4 villages of Northern Tanzania by supporting their capacity to produce and sell high quality traditional beaded jewels.

Achieved results:
  • 140 Maasai women of Mkuru have been supported in the establishment of the Nasaruno group cooperative.
  • Mkuru women have been trained in: high quality handicraft production, group management and business management.
  • Thanks to the collaboration with the European Institute of Design of Milan (IED Milano) the group of women is now able to periodically innovate their products.
  • Mkuru women attended literacy and basic hygiene courses.
  • The Nasaruno group has been included in the Tanzania Maasai Women Art network, that is selling Maasai Women Art products in a long-lasting way in Europe and East Africa through a web site ( and a shop in Arusha.
  • The 140 women involved in the Maasai Women Art initiative have stopped tree cutting for charcoal production, which was causing desertification in the area, and replaced this illegal income generating activity with handicraft production with major positive impact on the quality of their lives and the environment.
Long term objectives include the following:
  • Literacy, Swahili and English courses.
  • Business management, leadership and group organisation courses.
  • Promotion of the Maasai cultural heritage at international level.
  • Awareness raising on sustainable good practices in household management (use of energy efficient stoves; water management; food conservation strategies).

Learn more about this project.

Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: EuropeAid (2010-2011); Intervita (until 2012) Period: long term program started in 2010

Objective: to contribute to address the basic food needs of the vulnerable Maasai and Meru communities by improving access to agricultural inputs and services, establishing safety net measures, providing support to agricultural professional groups in 8 rural villages in the Oldonyo Sambu and Ngarenanyuki Wards, Arumeru District (an area of 36.000 hectares inhabited by 45.000 people).

Achieved results:
  • Drip irrigation systems for horticultural production established in 219 households.
  • Honey and poultry production increased by 100% and 50% respectively.
  • Cash crop productivity increased and improved in terms of irrigation schemes, soil conservation strategies and pesticides use
  • 5 Irrigators Organizations, 39 poultry groups, 20 beekeeping groups, 6 Women Gardening groups have improved their performance in terms of environmental sustainability, production and governance.
Long term objectives include the following: Sustainable agricultural practices applied to the entire cultivated land (21.000 hectares). In particular:
  • significant reduction of health problems linked with improper pesticide use;
  • improved quality of agricultural products (significant reduction of pesticides residues and improved conservation methods);
  • increased agro-biodiversity and agro-ecosystems quality;
  • improved governance of the agricultural sector in terms of technical assistance, market access and land management.

Learn more about this project.

Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: EuropeAid; CNT Foundation Period: 2011-2015

Objective: to increase access to safe and properly managed drinking water and improving hygiene and sanitation awareness and practices, thus helping achieve the Water and Sanitation Target of the MDGs.

Expected results:
  • Rehabilitated and improvement of the Malemeu Leguruki-Kingori water pipeline distribution system, serving 14 villages and 45,000 people. A foreseen amount of 170000m of pipes will be lined, 570 m3 of storage facilities will be rehabilitated or constructed, a minimum of 178 Distribution Points will be constructed, in 2015 around 50450 persons will have access to a minimum of 25 l/d of safe drinking water.
  • Diffusion and implementation of hygiene and sanitation good practices and facilities. About  9,000 people are the direct beneficiaries of the campaign. Around 8500 adults and 11100 students will directly participate to activities regarding health, hygiene and sanitation promotion. Spreading the messages, 45000 person will have indirectly access to these information.
  • The KIA Water Board is the legal owner of the KIA Water System and is able to manage the distribution system. At least 20 persons, members of VWCs and/or KIA Water Board, will be trained on different subjects.
Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: EU Commission; Municipality of Milano, Italy Period: 2008-2011

Objective: to provide access to energy services to poor rural communities living in scattered and isolated settlements of Oldonyo Sambu and Ngarenanyuki Wards (Arumeru District) through appropriate, affordable and sustainable technologies and a good governance of the energy sector.

  • Rural people access to energy services improved, social services improved and livelihood enhanced through: i) establishment of two Community Energy Resource Centers established; ii) installation of PV systems in 20 primary and secondary schools, two health centers, four dispensaries, 9 village and Ward offices, 4 public places, improved social services performance; iii) installation of 233 improved stoves and 20 biogas plants in 231 households and 22 schools and public places; iv) installation of 40 pilot mud stoves in Maasai huts; reduction of indoor pollution of at least 20% households with health benefits for children and women; iii) improved economic conditions due to time and money saved on fuel and new energy-related business started.
  • Governance of the energy sector increased through i) District Committee for Rural Energy operative, District and Ward Energy Plans prepared; iii) Partners capacities increased;
  • At least 19,000 people reached by the awareness campaign; 80 people trained to start small businesses; 1 practical guide printed, project web site established.
Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; CARIPLO Bank Foundation, Italy; Lombardy Region, Italy Period: 2005-2011

Objective: to enhance the capacity of disadvantaged Maasai pastoralist’s communities of the semi-arid areas of the Arumeru District (Olkung’wado, Ngabobo, Uwiro villages) to manage livestock and natural resources for their socio-economic development.

  • GIS office established at the Arumeru District Planning Unit. Arumeru District Technical staff trained on socio-economic and ecological information collection and input in a database, map production and GIS analysing.
  • Socio-economic and ecological information gathered and organised in a database, base and resource maps produced. Decision Support System available at the District and used for planning and management purposes.
  • Land Use Plans (LUPs) prepared and approved for the pilot villages of Olkung’wado, Ngabobo, Uwiro.
  • Twenty-two Village Game Scouts (VGS) trained and anti-poaching units organised at Ward level.
  • Government Veterinary Office and veterinary services improved; livestock conditions improved and benefits deriving from livestock breeding increased.
  • Water availability for livestock increased through rehabilitation of small dams. Twenty-four Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) trained.
  • Bio-diversity conservation in pilot villages improved.
  • Women groups and interested villagers trained on small scale income-generating activities.
  • Small business initiatives based on innovative sustainable use of natural resources established
Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: Charity and Defence of Nature Trust Period: 2006-2009

Objective: improvement of water availability, for both human uses and livestock watering, in Uwiro Village.

  • Furniture of a minimum of 20l per day/person of water for Kimosonu sub-village inhabitants (value calculated on the basis of a population projection for year 2025 - 2.826 people, with a increasing rate of 2,79%).
  • Watering possibility for about 2300 livestock animals per day (cattle, camels, goats, sheep, donkeys) in Mkuru area
Location of the action: Tanzania-Kenya Donors to the action: Lombardy Region; The Charity and Defence of Nature Fund Period: 2006-2008

Objective: to improve the socio-economic conditions of the pastoral Maasai communities of the Rift Valley (Tanzania and Kenya) through the implementation of training  and awareness raising activities on environmental issues, the support to women groups and to pilot economic activities based on the sustainable utilisation of natural resources.

  • The Monduli, Arumeru and Kajado Districts capacity to plan and manage the Maasai lands with an integrated and coordinated approach increased.
  • The Maasai women capacity to organise themselves into groups or cooperatives and to start and manage small economic initiatives increased, with direct economic benefits for the community.
  • The capacity to manage the natural resources in a sustainable way and the awareness of the links between environmental degradation and poverty increased among at least 35,000 people (25,000 adults and 10,000 school students)
Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: CARIPLO Foundation (Italy); Lombardy Region, Italy; State University of Insubria, Italy; Osotwa Mount Meru Community Based Conservation Organization, Tanzania; Meru/Usa Forest Plantation, Tanzania Period: 2006-2008

Objective: testing a joint management of Nading’oro Primary Forest, based on a new integrated partnership and participatory approach to allow local rural Ilkurot and Olkokola communities (Arusha Region, Tanzania) to manage and use forest resources to improve their economic development with a sustainable and eco-compatible approach.

  • Establishment of a Joint Forest Management Agreement (JFMA) for the management of Nading’oro Primary Forest by local rural Ilkurot and Olkokola villages (Tanzania) in partnership with other local institutions and authorities, through a management plan developed with a participatory approach.
  • Improving the local Ilkurot e Olkokola communities capacity to manage Nading’oro Primary Forest through training activities on the sustainable use of natural forest resources and initiatives of environmental education.
  • Promoting, through creation or support to local co-operatives and groups, economic activities linked to the new opportunities to use and manage the Nading’oro Primary Forest after the establishment of JFMA and the creation of a new access to Arusha National Park.
Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: Lombardy Region, Italy; Osotwa Mount Meru Community Based Conservation Organization, Tanzania Period: 2005-2007

Objective: improvement of socio-economic conditions of local communities living in marginal areas of Northern Tanzania through the implementation of pilot initiatives of participatory utilisation of wildlife resources.

  • The technical staff of Arumeru District, as well as the local NGO Osotwa Mount Meru Community Based Conservation Organisation, have gathered the technical and management skills to manage the village wildlife resources with a participatory, sustainable approach, in the interest of local communities.
  • The pilot villages have established wildlife management areas.
  • The numbers of wildlife species of major tourism or hunting interest have increased in the pilot village areas.
  • Pilot initiatives of sustainable utilisation of wildlife resources through tourism and hunting activities have been successfully implemented in the pilot villages, with socio-economic benefits for local communities.
  • Students from Tanzanian and Italian Universities have attended the training courses carried out by Istituto Oikos on participatory management of natural resources and have increased their knowledge and awareness about sustainable use of wildlife to fight poverty.
Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: Lombardy Region, Italy; Arumeru District, Tanzania; State University of Insubria, Italy Period: 2002-2004

Objective: the project aims at improving the conservation and sustainable management of the Mount Meru Area, in collaboration with local communities and authorities.


  • Conservation and forest management in the Mount Meru area improved.
  • Major threats to forest and other natural habitats in the Mount Meru area identified.
  • Collaboration between bodies responsible for forest and nature management improved.
  • Strategies for sustainable use of forest resources, at the village level and in collaboration with local communities, defined.
  • Awareness of local population in the Arusha Region of the importance of a sustainable use of forest resources increased.
  • Involvement of local populations in the economic benefits derived from a sustainable use of forest resources increased.
  • A “Joint management Forest” managed by the villages in collaboration with Mount Meru Forest Plantation realised.
  • Cultural interchange between scholar populations of the Arusha Region (Tanzania) and the Lombardy Region (Italy) activated.
Location of the action: Tanzania, Arumeru District Donors to the action: Charity and Defense of Nature Trust, Alpi Marittime Park Period: long term program

Objective: to rehabilitate the structures, to strengthen the human capital and to promote the Mkuru Camel Safari project.


  • New infrastructures suitable for receiving tourists.
  • Reconstruction of 2 rooms and 4 curtains capable to contain 12 beds.
  • Creation of an Internet website, through which it is now possible to book online.
  • Creation of a simple brochure distributed to the Camel Safari and to travelling agencies and touristic operators.
  • Literacy and technical trainings to 16 persons living in Mkuru sub-village.
  • Four different paths have been traced with different duration and means of carrying.
  • Registration of these paths on GPS system and increase of staff competencies