|Community and Conservation|
Olarro is founded on the principles of conservation, sustainability and community empowerment. Our aim is to create a self-sustaining tourist operation with the dual goal of improving the standard of living for the local Maasai community. Olarro is undertaking pioneering measures to create a sustainable ecosystem, working with its community and CSA (Conservation Science Africa), the conservation company specialising in REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation).
Community & Conservation
Olarro operates as an eco lodge and strives to minimise its impact on the environment across the board through various initiatives. These include the use of alternative energies such as wind and solar power, enhancement and maintenance of forest and green cover as well as programs such as sustainable water harvesting, effluent treatment, waste disposal and recycling and use of natural materials. Olarro is 99 percent solar- and wind power-generated. Guests can visit the technologically advanced solar and wind energy systems installed by Olarro and the Bio Box site where grey and black water is recycled to generate water for irrigation.
Olarro’s aim to develop a sustainable conservation area includes four primary areas of intervention:
Olarro is 99% wind and solar powered. Olarro has a sophisticated installation of solar and wind energy-generation systems. These renewable energy systems include wind turbines and solar panels that charge deep-cycle batteries, solar water heaters to supply all the hot water needs and solar pumps to provide all the water requirements for the lodge as well as filter the swimming pool. In order to minimise energy expenditure, Olarro employs many rigorous energy saving schemes, appliances and lighting throughout the facilities, minimising the impact on the environment.
Olarro Lodge is supplied by a pristine spring that produces bottling quality water in enough volume to supply the lodge many times over. However, water is rapidly becoming an increasingly valuable resource, especially in Africa, and profligate use of this is unnecessary and unacceptable. To this end, Olarro has implemented numerous measures to reduce water consumption, improve waste water quality, recycle used water wherever possible and minimise demand on groundwater. These include the exclusive use of certified bio-friendly cleaning and washing products; water awareness education for guests and housekeeping minimising turnover of sheets, towels and linen; extensive rainwater catchments; Bioboxä grey and black-water management and recycling; advanced horticultural practices and the use of Xeric gardens to minimise the lodge’s water usage while still maintaining the highest aesthetic standards.
Waste Disposal and Recycling
The disposal constitution binds management and staff to employ stringent waste minimisation and disposal methods and recycling wherever possible. Efforts include avoiding amenities wastage; choosing commodities with less packaging and environmentally friendly materials, use of advance composting and vermiculture (worm farming) techniques of turning organic wastes into high quality fertiliser. Advanced awareness of disposal techniques are taught amongst staff and made known to clients. Non-organic, and non-reusable or recyclable waste is sorted, packed and transported out of the area to a municipal site.
The Eco Center at Olarro manages a combination of projects that serve as a model for conservation agriculture and training center for the Group Ranch while supplying the Lodge with the freshest organic produce. These projects include several eco-gardens that grow vegetables, fruits, herbs and other crops and a vermi-compost unit that supplies fertiliser for all these gardens. The eco gardens supply fresh organice produce to Olarro lodge as well as some nearby lodges.
Conservation Agriculture is a concept for resource-saving agricultural crop production that strives to achieve acceptable profits with high and sustained production levels while concurrently conserving the environment.
The conservation agriculture project is very strategic as it is aimed towards a livelihood change for the local communities. Most rural people today are pastoralists and have no other means of sustaining themselves. During seasons of drought and low rainfall, life becomes increasingly hard for them. Cattle herds also encroach on flora and fauna in the National Parks thus escalating the human-wildlife conflict and depriving the wildlife of their food.
The aim of Olarro’s work is to introduce basic farming and agriculture techniques to the people at the Group Ranch such that they have an alternate means of sustenance and income. This also complements their nomadic life as they can move with their vermiculture equipment and set up small farming units wherever they move.
This project is based around the nurturing, growing, and care of the earthworm Eisenia fetida. This “red” worm, feeds on organic waste material, and converts it into a most effective organic fertilizer. This natural organic fertilizer in ideally suited to enhance the current soil type, which is of a depleted and poor quality. Olarro has held several workshops on a regular basis to teach the people of Maji Moto about caring for the worms, making compost and giving them the basic introduction to simple farming techniques.
Today, several families are growing their own vegetable produce, keeping their own worm garden, growing feed for their cattle, and planting indigenous trees around their homesteads/villages to form live fences and enhance the quality of the environment. Olarro is also supporting them in setting up sustainable businesses, selling organic vegetable produce to camps and lodges in the Maasai Mara along with organic fertilizer and even the worms. Olarro is also training teachers on vermiculture and tree planting to teach the kids about these technologies early on in life so that they are able to implement them at their homes and even influence their parents.
Vermiculture is also ideal for the Ranch due to water scarcity as it utilizes far less water than other techniques and the raw materials such as wildlife and cattle dung are also easily available to families. Olarro has introduced Drip Irrigation to the local farmers at the Maji Moto Spring where the farmers were previously using the furrow system. The drip irrigation system uses less water and is more efficient.
Olarro is also training people on producing natural pesticide sprays such as “kraal manure tea” (sheep and goat manure taken from a Maasai homestead, put into a sack and left to infuse into 80lt jerry cans of water); a garlic and chilli infusion, boiled Neem leaf, boiled Russian comfrey leaves and a highly diluted organic soap mix.
Maji Moto Medical Clinic
The existing clinic was upgraded with a new water facility and drainage system, bathrooms, furniture and upgrading the solar power unit. In addition, Olarro supports the Clinic with payments to obtain medicines and pays the wages for nurses. Olarro also makes a vehicle available to the community for any emergencies if someone needs to be taken to the nearest clinic or hospital.
Enkare Nairowua Girls Secondary School
The Olarro team has built a new school classroom and dormitory block as well as new bathrooms for the children. A vermiculture project is also being set up to provide organic fertiliser to the schools vegetable garden which provides much needed ingredients for school meals. Nearly 250 girls from neighbouring villages attend the school and have benefited from the improved facilities.
Enkare Nairowua Primary School
Major renovation works have been undertaken at the school with new cemented floors, new windows to keep out the cold and dust and water facilities for 24 hour water supply. The school has also been provided with required sports equipment which is often too expensive for them to afford. An eco-project including a vegetable garden using vermiculture, has been installed at the school providing for more nutritious school meals. A tree nursery with indigenous tree saplings has been set up to support the school’s tree planting initiatives. All these measures have greatly enhanced the school facilities and benefited over 400 local children who attend the school.
The Maji Moto Nursery School
The existing structure was completely renovated with new cement floors, plastered walls, ceiling boards, new doors & windows, classroom furniture, water facilities, perimeter fencing, bathrooms and a playground with swings and slides. The works were done over the holiday season and children returned to a wonderful surprise when school opened. Over 100 local children attend the nursery school.
A new school will be built at Enkiu, a remote part of the Maji Moto Group Ranch where school facilities are very basic at present. The first phase in 2010 will include new classrooms, a teachers’ residential block and an administration block for the school office. The school project also includes a tree nursery and vegetable garden using vermiculture. Due to the insufficient water in the area, we have set up special low water intensive vegetable bed units at the school.
Water & Sanitation
Olarro restored and now maintains the windmill at Maji Moto in conjunction with the community, who also have a fund specifically for maintenance of the windpump. The windmill supplies water to the neighbouring schools and houses at the Ranch.
Waste collection & disposal
It is becoming a common sight to see plastic bags strewn around inhabited areas and often they are not disposed of properly. Olarro has been working with the community to sensitise them to the issue, especially the children, and stress the importance of keeping their surroundings tidy and using litter bins, thereby protecting the environment.
Olarro hold regular Cleaning Days with the community at Maji Moto Group Ranch, particularly in and around the nearby Ngoswani village. Teams of enthusiastic volunteers cleaned the area of trash and litter, with a healthy competitive spirit in order to win prizes for the cleanest compound or for the best cleaning effort.
We also have a litter collection reward initiative running weekly with the Ngosuani school, whereby the school children spend 2 hours every Friday filling bin bags in exchange for school curricula and stationary. In addition, we have provided ten rubbish barrels for the community to burn their waste, and have seen a significant improvement in the cleanliness of the town.
Energy & Lighting
Olarro has installed running water and solar electricity into the Community Liaison Officer's (CLO) house. The CLO works with Olarro towards achieving the development goals of the Group Ranch.
Micro Industries such as Beadwork
Olarro has set up an income generation project for women at the Ranch whereby it supplies all the materials and equipment to the women to make beadwork objects for sale. These include candle holders, beaded coasters, pen holders, belts and traditional necklaces that are sold to guests at Olarro and also in the market.
Eco Compost is a highly efficient fertilizer made through vermiculture. Olarro is helping the community suppliers in marketing this eco-compost by packing, transporting and selling it in shops in Nairobi.
Olarro has partnered with African Beekeepers Ltd (ABL) to promote beekeeping businesses at Maji Moto Group Ranch. Olarro will provide interested people with technologically advanced hives at a subsidised installment cost and also train them on beekeeping. ABL will buy the honey produced by the community and subsequently process, package and market the same.