The engineers from Bridging the Gap Africa (http://www.bridgingthegapafrica.org/) have sent some good news: they might visit Dareda Kati Village in less than a week in order to plan the footbridge that villagers and Karimu (http://www.karimufoundation.org/) volunteers will build this June and July.
Harmon Parker, founder of Bridging the Gap Africa, reports from Kenya that the flooding there has already caused a lot of destruction, misery, and even death. Although the conditions in Dareda Kati do not seem to be that extreme, its people are nevertheless thrilled to know that the rainy season of 2013 will be the last one in which rising waters swallow their existing, tiny bridge and slice the village in two, keeping some teachers and many children from going to school and making it impossible for many sick people to get treatment.
However, some very bad news seems to be coming out of a different part of Tanzania, more than a hundred miles directly north of Dareda Kati. The central government of President Jakaya Kikwete may be preparing to evict large numbers of Maasai from their land in the Loliondo District, which links the two crowning jewels among East Africa’s priceless wildlife treasures, the Ngorongoro Crater (visited by Karimu volunteers every year) and the Serengeti Plain.
Apparently, the Kikwete government purports to justify the evictions as a conservation measure that will prevent overgrazing by the Maasai’s cattle. But the Maasai themselves, along with representatives of NGO’s active in the area, challenge the government’s assertion that their traditional pastoral lifestyle poses an environmental threat. With the Maasai out of the way, the Ortello Business Corporation, an organizer of luxury safaris based in the United Arab Emirates, would profit from unrestricted access to one of the world’s most abundant hunting grounds. Both the Maasai and the NGO’s insist that the Kikwete government is merely seeking a share of that profit, at tragic and incalculable costs to both the human and the animal residents of the Loliondo District.
There is strong evidence that the Kikwete government can be forced to back down in the face of international pressure. An article that appeared last week in The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/30/maasai-game-hunting-tanzania) explains the crisis at greater length. The article will also point you toward the international advocacy group Avaaz (http://avaaz.org/en/save_the_maasai/?slideshow) in case you want to help exert some of that pressure.