The Maasai Education, Research, and Conservation Institute (MERC) has been working for close to 30 years in Kenya and the U.S. for the cultural survival of the Maasai Community. MERC works closely with grassroots Maasai organizations throughout Maasailand, all levels of Kenyan government, and national and international civil society organizations to create partnerships for the economic, political, and cultural empowerment of the Maasai people. MERC has offices in Narok and a research center on the edge of the Maasai Mara; for over a decade we have worked closely with Prescott College to support Maasai efforts to regain homeland and for tourism reform through research. MERC is well positioned to play a critical role as the future of Maasailand is charted by many converging forces, and is dedicated in particular to ensuring the participation of Maasai people in decisions impacting their lives.
The Maasai Education, Research and Conservation Institute (MERC-USA) is a U.S.-based organization is dedicated to supporting the Maasai community of East Africa in its efforts to survive and thrive. MERC-USA also engages in broader international efforts for environmental conservation and indigenous peoples’ cultural preservation.
Our vision is a Maasai community that occupies its homeland in Kenya as a distinct society that is economically secure and politically empowered to determine its own future. We forsee the realization of sustainable environmental and social policies throughout Maasailand that ensure the long-term viability of the ecosystem and the Maasai culture. These policies include:
- Culturally supportive education
- Community-based tourism
- Universal access to clean water
- Land management that protects the environment and community values
- Opportunities for Maasai youth, including access to higher education
- ORGANIZATIONAL FOUNDATION – Create an organizational infrastructure that is responsive to community needs and addresses new challenges and opportunities as they arise.
- RESEARCH – Support research in Maasailand that responds to informational needs of the Maasai community and that is accountable to community interests.
- POLICY DEVELOPMENT – Assist the Narok County leadership to develop and implement sustainable policies for Maasailand.
- INFRASTRUCTURE EXPANSION – Support the development of physical infrastructure at the Dopoi Center (specifically) and Maasailand (generally), based upon available resources and the potential impact of those projects.
- COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT – Provide leadership support, resources and information to Maasai leaders and groups to help enhance their effectiveness as change agents.
- EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP – Educate the next generation of Maasai leadership through model Prescott College Field Studies programs and lay the groundwork for a future University.