The purpose of the Research & Policy Development Program is to bring researchers and scholars together with Maasai community members, Narok political leadership, Non-governmental organizations, and any others who share the goal of generating and applying knowledge to support the future of Maasailand and Maasai culture.
The Maasai Mara Game Reserve is one of the most studied locations in the world, and the same can be said of the Maasai people. This interest is for good reason. Maasai people are known throughout the world for their culture based in pastoralism. That culture continues to survive as the community navigates pressures brought by colonial modernization. The Maasai have coexisted with East Africa’s magnificent wildlife for millennia. It is for this reason that scientists have noted that 65% of the wildlife that exists in Kenya can be found on Maasai grazing lands and not in the protected areas. The Maasai do not kill wildlife for food or sport unlike many other parts of East Africa. Their unique culture, its relationship to the land, its ability to survive in the midst of recurrent natural and human induced disasters, the abundance, diversity and prosperity of wildlife in their homeland, and the changing economic circumstances putting pressure on the people and the land, are some of the things that have attracted countless scientists and scholars from across the globe to Maasailand.
MERC and our partners have developed a collaborative approach to research that benefits scholars and scientists, the Maasai community, the government, the wildlife and habitat in the Maasai Mara Serengeti Ecosystem, and the global community to whom this land ultimately belongs.
Here are the key problems our research model seeks to address:
The MERC research model is based at our field station, called the Dopoi Center, where researchers are welcome to pitch a tent, use internet, and share meals. The field station also offers the opportunity to connect researchers with Maasai people who have valuable information to share about the land and wildlife. As a Maasai community member Joseph Ole Logela said, “we know this wildlife; they live with us and we know where to find them, how to understand their behaviors because we have been observing and interacting with them for many generations.” MERC helps researchers make partnerships that empower indigenous knowledge systems.
In addition to the field station, MERC also has an established partnerships with representatives of local government and higher learning. Through our partnership with Prescott College, we continue to develop a model program of collaboration and to produce research that can be applied to solving problems in Maasailand.
Research by MERC scientists and researchers focuses on understanding ecosystem and social/cultural change in the context of the dynamic environment of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve (MMGR). MERC takes an interdisciplinary approach to large and complex research questions that address these discipline specific components:
Be sure to check out our Publications Page to find some of the research papers already produced by MERC and some of our associates.