UMOJA - U.A.S.O. Women's Group
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The Samburu District is located in central Kenya, away from major cities and trading centers. Within the Kenyan federal system, Samburu district is typically overlooked and underrepresented, receiving limited government funds and assistance. This is evident in the lack of infrastructure and government services in the area. As the land is sparsely populated, it is often difficult to distribute any resources to remote communities. The education system is under funded; schools lack sufficient classroom space, supplies, and teachers. Health care facilities are few, under funded and often difficult to reach, and those available are inadequate for people requiring sophisticated treatment. Women, as their families' primary caregivers, are saddled with the responsibility of traveling with sick members and waiting long periods of time for treatment.

Communication and information dissemination are also limited, since most communities do not have access to telephone lines, internet, or even a daily newspaper. Lack of access to communication leaves women without the means by which to put their rights into practice. For example, without being able to contact the police, a woman cannot file charges against an abuser. This problem is compounded by the fact that without access to information, women have no way of even knowing what their rights are. Poor communication constrains the possibility for cooperating women's groups to provide mutual advice and assistance. Further, there are no paved roads within the district or the surrounding areas, making transportation quite difficult. This makes transporting goods to and from markets expensive, time-consuming, and exhausting. Women usually bear the burden of lengthy travel. For example, women in the communities of Westgate and Kiltamany travel two days by foot to reach the nearest town to stock their small shops with foodstuffs, and must pay for a costly private vehicle to transport the goods back.

A few fortunate manyattas are located near the Samburu reserve and receive some revenue from the burgeoning tourism industry. However, many villages are isolated from such potential markets and are forced to rely on their livestock for income. Being a nomadic people, the Samburu tend to settle where there is available pasture for grazing for livestock. Those who wish to pursue tertiary education must go to cities outside the district to do so. Once educated, these people often leave their home in the Samburu district, as more jobs are available elsewhere.

The Samburu people are isolated from the rest of the country and are cut off from the central decision making authorities; their particular problems are neglected and their concerns go unheard, making them among the most marginalized in Kenya. The intersection of inequalities based on Samburu women's gender, location, and ethnic group compound each of the aforementioned difficulties, and leave these women with all the more reason to unite together in cooperative groups.


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