Basecamp Masai Mara environmental commitment is illustrated in the facility contribution to the development of community owned Naboisho Conservancy, and in promoting environmental awareness initiatives in neighbouring community owned land. In addition, the staff is trained and skilled on environmental management issues specifically on water, energy and waste management.
The camp plays a key role in support of implementation of Big Cats project - a long-term effort to monitor and protect the lion, leopard and cheetah population within the Naboisho Conservancy and neighbouring community owned lands and conservancies. In addition, Basecamp Masai Mara runs a tree seedlings nursery and tree planting program that has managed to plant approximately 70,000 seedlings since inception.
The camp is designed to blend in with the natural environment: canvas tents are of natural colors beige and green, raised on wooden platforms with walls made from clay and deadwood while footpaths are made of sand and gravel. The lack of a fence ensures that the wild animals are not restricted in their movement. To ensure that visitors are sensitized about environmental awareness, only low impact activities like nature walks, bird watching and authentic village visits are conducted. As part of its conservation philosophy, the camp contributes a monthly fee, conservation fee and bed night fees to aid in the conservation of the Koiyaki group ranch.
Waste water management
Grey waste water from the kitchen, laundry and staff quarters is managed through a waste water treatment system. Kitchen effluent flows through a three chamber grease trap top filter out fats and oils before draining into the treatment system. Black water from the guest tents is collected in septic tanks and then pumped into an underground waste water treatment system fixed with radial arms. Black effluent from staff quarters is managed through pit latrines.
Solid waste management
Solid waste is separated at source in clearly labelled bins and put in a waste collection centre for further segregation. It is then disposed of to recycling plants via Basecamp Nairobi office. Organic waste is composted in a four chamber composting system and the manure later used to plant tree seedlings within the camp.
Light pollution is reduced through the use of lanterns for lighting at night while noise pollution is minimized by insulating the generator room with a muffler to minimise on noise levels.
The camp’s main source of energy is solar, supplied by 31 solar panels fixed with power inverter battery system which provide power for lighting and electrical appliances. This energy is supplemented by a back-up generator with a 15KvA output capacity. In addition, the facility has invested in solar water heaters which are linked up to back-up kuni boilers that use charcoal briquettes. As an added energy conservation measure, only LED (light emitting diodes) and energy saving bulbs are used for lighting and the guests are sensitized upon arrival on energy conservation practices.
Water mainly sourced from a borehole located within the facility, is solar pumped and stored in 25000 litre reservoirs for distribution throughout the camp. Metering occurs at source and its consumption recorded monthly for monitoring purposes. As a back-up, rain water is also harvested and stored in a 50000 litre underground water tank. Different measures have been put up to ensure efficient water use which include: sensitizing guests upon arrival and staff during daily meetings on water conservation; fixing guest tents with dual flush toilet cisterns to reduce on water used per flush and encouraging guests to re-use their towels and linens through information sheets available in their tents.
Purchasing and supplies
Supplies used in the camp are purchased in bulk to reduce on packaging waste. The vegetables are stored in re-usable crates and the meat is stored in coolers.
The camp only uses biodegradable cleaning products and stores its diesel in a well contained storage area to prevent spillage.
Health and safety
Environmental Health and Safety
The health and safety conditions in the camp have been certified by the county public health office. In compliance with safety regulations, the camp has conducted a fire safety audit and a Health and Safety audit. There is a core team of staff trained on first aid skills and first aid kits are available at key areas within the facility while food handlers have undergone medical tests to comply with Food, Drugs, and Chemical substances Act. Cap 254. The guest tents are equipped with fire evacuation plans. The staff medical care is referred to CMF Talek health but there is a doctor on call for guest emergency cases.
Occupational Health and Safety
Fire-fighting equipment including fire extinguishers, kitchen fire blankets and sand buckets are serviced and strategically placed within the facility while fire assembly points and fire alarm are well marked. The staff is also trained on fire-fighting skills and provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, boots, working aprons and welding glasses.
Social cultural criteria
Training and education
The camp has a scheduled in house training per department on skills development, conservation issues, health and safety. The kitchen staff is sent for refresher training at Kenya Utalii College on regular basis.
Benefits to staff and local community
Basecamp makes remittances on conservancy, lease and bed night fees to Naboisho Conservancy where some of the funds are used for local community wellbeing projects and initiatives. Purchases such as staff meat, fruits and vegetables are done locally where possible. The camp has a comprehensive community engagement plan implemented through Basecamp Foundation(BCF), which range from education, health, conservation and community empowerment. These initiatives include;
- Community empowerment: BCF established and supports the Masai Brand Project, which a project aimed at empowering local women through beadwork and recycled plastic material products. The project is hosted at the camp where groups of local women do the production of beaded products on rotational basis. Currently 118 women benefit from this project. The foundation has also set up an online marketing platform for the project-maasaibrand.com; 75% proceeds go back to the women group and the rest is used to run the project.
- Community managed microfinance program: BCF helped establish self-help groups for the local women (25 members each) where the women are able to do savings, have access to social funds and loan services. So far the women have gained from the groups through investments such as buying water tanks for their homesteads (10 so far) and 15 solar home systems used for lighting and charging.
- Energy project: this is a project that was established in 2010 whereby 5 women were sponsored to India for training on solar energy systems; since then, the foundation teamed up with Brighter Lite Ltd which gives solar systems to the local communities through hire purchase with a 24 month warranty. So far they have sold 1000 solar systems which benefit the community through lighting and charging appliances.
- Education: the foundation encourages guests to support its traveler’s philanthropist program which offers scholarships for primary and secondary boarding students. Currently 15 students are beneficiaries of this program in various schools such as Talek Mixed Day and Boarding Primary School. In addition, Basecamp foundation has donated furniture to Olesere and Talek Primary schools, and is a key pillar to Koiyaki Guiding School specifically on donor funding.
- Water: the camp allows the local people to fetch water from the facility premises at no charges. In addition, the facility has supported the digging of two boreholes for the local people at Mbwai and Olesere.
- Health: In heath the foundation supports three clinics Talek, Olesere and Nkoilare. At Olesere the foundation developed and equipped the clinic.
In addition, 95% of the permanent employees are from the local area and casual job opportunities are given only to locals. Staff benefits include sponsored training, healthcare, insurance covers, uniform, food, entertainment accommodation and transport.
The local culture is promoted through conducting authentic cultural visits to the local villages and directing a percentage the village visits contributions to community projects and local women groups.
Visitor communication and education
Information is passed through guest briefings upon arrival; a central reading centre with information about basecamp foundation and Maasai Mara ecosystem and magazines on mammals, birds and the Maasai people.
Staff communication and education other recognition.
Information is communicated to staff members during daily briefings, through staff welfare committees that meet regularly and through notice boards.