The Noonkotiak Resource and Cultural Centre, near Amboseli National Park in Kenya is a knowledge sharing hub and a research focal point for the entire Amboseli Ecosystem. It houses Amboseli Ecosystem Trust (AET) offices, community meeting space, and a women-run cultural tourism enterprise that provides visitors with an opportunity to stay in a traditional Maasai boma and experience aspects of Maasai life.
Noonkotiak was officially allocated 100 acres of land by the Olgulului-Ololarashi Group Ranch in 2013 and launched by the African Conservation Centre, the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust (AET) and the Amboseli Conservation Programme (ACP) and funding partners in March of 2016. New expansions begin in 2022!
In 2022, we start phase one of our expansion of Noonkotiak into a larger, more comprehensive resource centre with several thematic sub-centres that focus on culture, tourism, education and research. Thanks to a generous donor, Perry McKay, this phase incudes a site plan of Noonkotiak land that will be used to create a cohesive campus that will eventually house a cultural centre, an educational centre for programs and trainings, a visitor centre and a research and knowledge sharing centre including dorms for visiting scientists and students.
Noonkotiak will facilitate advancement of community livelihoods, sustainable resource management and human-wildlife coexistence through the integration of research, policy, educational opportunities/knowledge sharing, and income generating community projects and enterprises. As a physical place for information storage and sharing, the centre will provide the communities near Amboseli with a forum to engage in knowledge creation, dissemination and application. Through the application of this shared information and engagement the centre will conserve biodiversity and improve livelihoods in the Amboseli Ecosystem and beyond.
WOMEN EMPOWERMENT PROJECT
The Women Empowerment Project within the Centre aims to alleviate poverty. Currently, women in Kenya do the vast majority of agricultural work and livestock rearing and produce/market the majority of food. Only 29 percent of the women are earning a formal wage throughout the country, leaving a huge percentage of women to work in the informal sector without any federal support. The effect is severe with nearly 40 percent of household run solely by women, and because of a lack of fair income, nearly all these homes suffer from abject poverty. ACC and the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust worked with women near Noonkotiak to develop a cultural homestay tourism product that provides visitors with an opportunity for experiential cultural tourism that integrates wildlife viewing with the Maasai way of life.
The Noonkotiak cultural manyatta consists of sixteen traditional Maasai homes including special guest rooms for homestays, a water supply system, and fencing. The Naga foundation from the Netherlands funded an electric fence around Noonkotiak through the Amboseli re-greening project to ensure the Centre is habitable and to pave the way for further developments. ACC, through the Royal Netherlands Embassy and Global Environmental Facility grant funded the establishment of the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust offices and a community meeting room. In coming years, we hope to work with the women to enhance their manyatta and increase tourism.
”Women’s empowerment is no charity. It is a human right and it is the best way to achieve equitable, peaceful and prosperous world."
ACC and ACP have a long history of working in Amboseli. ACC’s founder, David Western, has studied the Amboseli ecosystem for 55 years in partnership with Maasai community members, resource assessors. This long-term research is critical to understanding changes in the ecosystem, maintenance and restoration of the ecosystem, and biodiversity and landscape integrity as natural buffers against land degradation, fragmentation and climate change. Data collected over the years has been used to support the establishment of Amboseli National Park, develop management plans for the ecosystem, and community group ranches.
ACC and ACP pioneered the formation of the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust (AET) and were instrumental in the development of a 10-year Amboseli Ecosystem Management Plan (AEMP) aimed at maintaining Amboseli ecosystem diversity and ecological resilience, conserving the ecosystem including threatened species and habitats, and especially the charismatic elephants, expansive swamps, and promotion of sustainable development of the ecosystem for the benefit of the present and future generations.
With all the data from these and many other groups it became clear that a physical location was needed to gather, disseminate and collaborate on actions. The community also wanted a visitor, cultural and education centre that would tie into the research centre. Noonkotiak is the result.
The concept for Noonkotiak is modeled in part after other resource centres that ACC and ACP helped to create, the highly successful Lale’enok Resource Centre in the South Rift and the Twala-Tenebo Cultural Centre in Laikipia. Currently, there are no visitor or information resource centres near Amboseli Park and the establishment of Noonkotiak is envisaged in the AEMP plan as necessary for that ecosystem.
GOALS OF AMBOSELI ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT PLAN 2020-2030
Establish an environmental educational centre that offers educational programs to school groups from the Amboseli Ecosystem and other visiting groups including international visitors. It will have specialized staff to deliver educational programs through lectures as well as field excursions in and around Amboseli National Park. The Centre will include a library, a digital library, adult training workshops, wildlife exhibits, and a botanic garden.
Establish a research, monitoring and knowledge sharing centre for local, national and international researchers and students to conduct research on diverse ecological and sociological thematic areas to inform sound policies. Permanent, onsite, comfortable housing will be needed to facilitate research work. The research centre will also provide research internships and scholarships for local youth to engage with scientists.
Establish a visitor centre to communicate the biodiversity and social significance of the Amboseli Ecosystem to visitors. This centre will be a focal point for ecosystem interpretation and visitor information. It will include an amphitheater for lectures, films and videos.
Provide and maintain Maasai homestays that provide visitors with an opportunity for experiential cultural tourism that integrates wildlife viewing with the Maasai way of life. Sixteen cultural manyattas already exist. A few higher-end cottages may be needed for families and groups.
Manage Noonkotiak Centre sustainably. Noonkotiak will be a complex development with several thematic sub-centres: culture, tourism, education and research. It will be built in a sustainable way utilizing renewable energy when possible and green materials. It will also be self-sustaining, supported by visitor fees, researcher fees, enterprises, and donations and grants.
Become a model community-based conservation centre regionally and globally.
Establish funding partnerships to further develop Noonkotiak Resource Centre. This includes funds to build the Environmental Education Centre, Research Centre and Visitor Centre.
Make a Contribution
Help African Conservation Centre (ACC) conserve biodiversity in Kenya. We work directly with communities through a collaborative approach of scientific and indigenous knowledge, livelihood development and good governance.
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