For many years, those of you who know us well have looked to the day when our attention could be redirected to establishing MERC with a solid financial base. That day has come. With the generous support of the MERC board, we are in the process of building an apartment complex in Narok town that will provide sufficient income for MERC operations, freeing our time to pursue grants for projects. The complex includes seven buildings and will be leased for the use of faculty of Maasai Mara University. We have also been able to complete a dining/kitchen building at our center in Maasai Mara; with the addition of some additional infrastructure, the camp will be ready for groups, conferences and researchers. Our office in Narok is also finally established and Meitamei sits behind a desk there most days. We have signed an official memorandum of understanding with Prescott College of Arizona after years of working closely together, that expresses our continued commitment to collaboration. The basic support provided by an office and staff has made a great difference to our ability to work efficiently and effectively.
Other news…the land rights case at Mau Narok is moving forward and all signs are good. The case is currently in the hands of the National Land Commission, which was created through Kenya’s new constitution, to investigate of offer findings in regard to land rights claims. The NLC has paid special attention to the case at Mau Narok and is working with the community and the government to resolve the case outside of court if possible. Meanwhile, the community is devising a plan for how the land will be used once it is returned. These are exciting times. Mau Narok is 30,000 acres of some of the best land in Kenya, a headwater that feeds many tens of thousands of acres of dry land. The rivers that are generated there are currently polluted by industrial agriculture, and so restoration of the land to the community can lead to healing the land as well. The return of Mau Narok opens many doors to the community being able to determine its own future.