Ngorongoro District


Kakesio village is Kakesio Ward, Ngorongoro Division, Ngorongoro District. The Village is inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).

Ngorongoro District


The village has a centre for the school, dispensary, shop and wildlife patrol offices located at S 03º 22′ 20.9″ E 034º 59′ 19.3″ but the residential area is dispersed throughout the village. Most bomas are located some distance from the village centre with a concentration of bomas about 5km away. The village is in an area of grassland and miombo woodland that provides pasture for grazing and wood for fuel and building. There are few other land uses except for some shambas around the bomas. There is no irrigation in the village so farming is dependent on rain-fed agriculture and maize is the dominant crop with only one small shamba growing beans. Productivity in the village is low so the amount of land used by the households for farming is large.

There is one road that leads to Kakesio from Endulen and in parts it is hardly more than a track through the grassland. The villagers have no means to get to other villages other than on foot and communication is solely by radio from the wildlife patrol offices. The road crosses a dry riverbed to reach the administrative centre of the village. This means that at some point the bomas are cut off from the school and dispensary. The village is remote and the housing is spread over a wide area so there is no power supply to the village. The vegetation is generally heterogeneous with large areas of grassland interspersed with groves of miombo woodland.

Village history

The village was created during villagisation when Maasai were moved here from areas bordering the Sukuma in Shinyanga and from around Maswa game reserve. The move to Kakesio was in order to provide them with social facilities and to avoid the conflicts over cattle rustling between the Maasai and the Sukuma. Even so, Kakesio is on the route used by cattle thieves from the NCA, the surrounding area and Kenya.

Human population, ethnicity and settlement pattern

The Village has a population of about 2808 people divided into 100 household living in 27 Bomas.


Most movement is out of Kakesio to other places such as Osinon as there are better social services elsewhere. The village is remote and the roads are impassable during the rains. Villagers also move out to avoid cattle rustling. The few people who have moved to Kakesio have done so because the land is fertile enough to grow maize and beans. One acre can produce at least 50 bags of maize in a season.

Present village administration

The village has village government that is composed of 3 village committees, which have the responsibility of administering village affairs. These are finance and planning, defence and security and social services. Each committee is divided into sub-committees which are responsible for resolving conflicts in their area of control. For example contributions for water supply are handled by a sub-committee from social services while a defence and security sub-committee deals with the control of cattle rustling. Although it is policy for each village to have these committees, in reality the traditional leadership in Kakesio is more respected and plays the major role in resolving conflicts.

Ownership, use and management of CPR

CPR identified by villagers

Rangeland, farmland, water bodies and the NCA as a protected area with wildlife are considered CPR.


The NCA constitution prohibits immigration of people from outside the NCA. Those who are allowed to live inside the NCA are Maasai who were born in the area either before or after the establishment of the NCA. However, this overlooks the rights of other indigenous groups like the Barbaig who have lived in the area since before the Maasai, and the Asain business community who have lived here for many generations. This situation creates friction between the Maasai and non-Maasai groups.

The NCA authority is the custodian of the natural resources and as such is responsible for management of use. The resident Maasai community are users of the resources but only by permission of the NCA authority. Any request to use land for farming or settlement must first be approved by the NCA authority.

New immigrants to villages in the NCA must report to the sub-village chairperson, who is usually a traditional leader such as the Laig′wanak. A meeting of the village elders is called to decide where to allocate land for a boma or farming and these needs are then forwarded to the VGT. The VGT land distribution sub-committee will inspect the area and if they agree the request is sent to the NCA directly or indirectly through the ward executive chairperson or the ward councillor. The NCA authority will then inspect the site and decide whether to allow the settlement to go ahead. Despite the existence of this strict formal procedure immigrants have been able to settle without approval from the NCA authority. This is a source of conflict between the NCA authority and the resident Maasai.

Although the resident Maasai a largely nomadic pastoralists, they also practice some crop farming. In 1992 the prime minister approved small scale farming inside the NCA in order to help alleviate seasonal food shortages and famine. However, farming has increased since that time. Farming has now become important as a way of holding onto livestock rather than having to trade them for grain. Productivity can be high so grain can be sold to buy more livestock or other necessities. Ploughs are not allowed but some residents use them. Maasai have also been known to marry women from traditionally farming tribes so that they can assist in developing farms.


Any one from within NCA can come and graze their livestock in Kakesio. Traditionally, Maasai have practiced transhumance and shared pasture across Maasai areas. This means, they can move from Tanzania in to Kenya to graze livestock and they live in each others bomas in order to share food resources. The culture of sharing dry season and wet season pasture by Maasai groups continues today. Rangelands are not only protected by this traditional Maasai culture but also by NCA regulations which prohibit crop farming on rangelands and prevent grazing in protected forests or on archaeological sites.


Water is shared by residents and seasonal immigrants without charge. The village has no piped water supply and water is obtained from hand dug wells and existing ponds.


The NCA constitution prohibits tree cutting in catchment forests and on other protected sites. Logs are cut mainly for fencing cattle corrals or bomas, poles are cut for house construction and dry wood is collected for fuel.

Past, present and future influences on resource use and management

Changes in dietary habits

Traditionally the staple diet of the Maasai has consisted of milk, blood and meat. Grain is also consumed but it is usually obtained from neighbouring farming tribes through trading cattle rather than grown by the Maasai. However, the livestock population has been badly effected by drought, disease and theft. This has led to a reduction in the amount of stable food available and there are no longer enough animals for most Maasai to trade for grain. It was this situation that led to the government allowing farming inside the NCA. The Maasai have now discovered that it is more cost effective for them to grow their own grain rather than to trade cattle for it and as a result farming inside the NCA has expanded rapidly.

The culture of sharing resources

It is traditional for Maasai to share pasture and food like grain or milk with seasonal immigrants. However, this has recently been encouraging migrants to remain inside the NCA, which in turn has increased the demand for farmland. It is likely that farmland will start to encroach into pasture and other areas if more rigorous protection is not introduced. Increased agricultural production will in turn encourage even more seasonal immigrants to remain causing over-population of the NCA. Without the involvement of agricultural extension staff there won’t be any promotion of sustainable farming methods or monitoring of this potential problem.

Norms regulating resource use

Traditional Maasai norms include not hunting or eating wild animals, bird or fish. However, some small scale hunting and fishing occurs. Eland and other antelope are most commonly hunted. An increasing dependency on wild meat will effect the availability of the resource and will impact the tourism industry in the NCA. Generally the large numbers of wildlife found in Maasai areas are the result of their tradition of not hunting.

NCA formal norms

  • Laws to prohibit or restrict agriculture. Each household was originally restricted to one acre for farming when agriculture in the NCA was permitted on food security grounds. Now most people have at least one acre some have up to twelve acres. Farming has increased to counteract livestock losses from drought, disease and theft.
  • Laws prohibit the use of modern farming equipment
  • Laws prohibit tree cutting
  • Laws prohibit settlements, immigration and farming in an area without written permission from the Conservator.

Village problems

Problems identified by village leaders

  1. Lack of transport for the police post
  2. Cattle thieves from Shinyanga and difficulties in tracing cattle due to lack of mobility by police
  3. Poor impassable road
  4. Poverty
  5. Lack of clean water for domestic use.
  6. Lack of charco dam for livestock, nearest is in Osinon
    Few police staff. At present there are only four which is insufficient for a remote area badly effected by cattle theft
  7. Adult malnutrition especially when there are food shortages due to bad weather and pests
  8. Children are given priority for milk
  9. Livestock diseases

Problems identified by villagers

  1. Poor crop production
  2. Shortage of pasture
  3. Lack of water
  4. Cholera epidemics and other diseases (malaria, diarrhoea, STDs)
  5. Cattle rusting
  6. Food shortage
  7. Poor road
  8. Few primary school teachers
  9. Inadequate classrooms
  10. Lack of police vehicle
  11. Wild animals (crop pests)

Common diseases

Data collected from the dispensary showed a prevalence of the following diseases; malaria, Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI), pneumonia, diarrhoea, skin, ear and eye infections, worms, STDs, anaemia and protein energy malnutrition.

Financial benefits from natural resources

Financial benefits accrued from the NCA

All villages inside the NCA should get direct benefits from the NCA. The NCA authority allocates a certain percentage of the revenue from tourism to the Pastoral Council (PC), who then is responsible for distributing the benefits to all the villages. The grain store provided by the PC for Kakesio is in Osinon village. Osinon is 10km walking distance away and there is no proper road between them so getting their free grain back to their homes is difficult. Villagers are also allowed to establish cultural bomas to obtain direct income from tourists. However, there are no cultural bomas in Kakesio or the ward. At present, the income accrued from two established cultural bomas is distributed to all the Maasai villages in the NCA. Other benefits include veterinary services, a bus service to take people to and from Mto wa Mbu and Arusha town and funding for children with a good academic performance to attend secondary school.

Other income accrued from natural resources

Access to land is free for both grazing and small-scale farming. Bush pruning for housing and fencing of bomas and farm plots is also free. The village has shallow wells and the ERETO project assisted them to dig two deep wells, installed with a reserve tank and a windmill to provide power. Villagers participated by collecting stones for construction works. Access to water resources is free.

Some villagers sell traditional medicines to other members of their village or to other villages inside the NCA, outside the NCA, and even in Kenya. Others sell wild vegetables to the local hotels. Girls were seen selling Mnavu (Physalis minima ???). It has also been suggested that excess grain and beans are sold inside the NCA. Therefore, farming can provide an income that would otherwise not be available.

Identification of the poor

The largest herd in the village was reported to be 100 cows. Most of the people in this village have lost their cattle due to theft, diseases and drought. There is a Danida funded programme to restock poor families who lack relatives who can support them. Most poorer members of the community have to find other means of income generation rather than pastoralism Women sell medicines, snuff, beads and firewood, while men do paid manual work for other Maasai or look for employment in hotels or private homes.


Meshili village is in Olbalbal Ward inside the NCA.

Ngorongoro District


Meshili is about 30km from the Ngorongoro Crater at S 02º 58′ 58.8″ E 035º 30′ 20.6″. It is somewhat larger than the other villages visited and hosts a regular market on Saturdays. To the west of the village is the Serengeti plain, to the east are the mountains of Ngorongoro with the crater in the southeast.

The village is located on the side of a hill in bushland, which gives way in most directions to grassland. The soil is sandy and unlikely to give high yields in grass or crops. Since agriculture is restricted inside the NCA only a few very small shambas were seen growing maize. The predominant land use is for grazing cattle and there is no partitioning of land for different uses. Housing is therefore spread out over the village although there is a central area for the school, dispensary and ward offices. The rest of the area is solely for grazing cattle but it is likely that herders travel large distances to find adequate pasture year round. The wetland in the north-east was seen being used to water livestock along with a watering hole near the road to the village. The culture of pastoralism in Maasai communities is based on an ecology that doesn’t support widespread farming so the lack of farming and dependence on pastoralism is probably suitable for the productivity of the area.

There is only one road that leads to Meshili and it is a dirt track that leads off of the main tourist road. There is no power in the village because of its remote location. There is piped water for domestic use in the village with three outlet points, in the centre of the village, one by the hospital and another by the school. However, supply is intermittent so water is also collected from watering holes and a wetland area below the village in the northwest. Housing is either in small houses in the centre of the village or in traditional bomas that are located further away.

History of the village

The village was originally called Olbalbal. In 1994 Olbalbal was divided into two villages and renamed Meshili and Ngoile. Olbalbal now remains as the Ward name for the two villages. The former centre of Olbalbal village, which at present is called Meshili, was a Maasai village in the traditional past. Although the original members of the village were not affected by the establishment of the Serengeti National Park and the NCA, others migrated to Meshili and other villages when they were evicted from the Serengeti area.

Human population, ethnicity and settlement pattern

The village has a population of ? people, 29 Bomas and ? households. The majority of residents are Maasai. There are few people from other ethnic groups and these are generally government workers. There is also an Asian family who have lived in the area since the era of Arab control (860 AD). Previous generations were traders throughout the area. Now there are members of the family with businesses in Meshili and Endulen. The Asian family in Meshili owns the milling machine. Most of the resident Maasai are pastoralists who practice transhumance. They also practice small-scale farming in so-called gardens. Maasai are also involved in small businesses. These include food-vending kiosks run mostly by men using family labour and small shops or kiosks selling consumer goods (soap, sugar, kerosene, and utensils). There are also Maasai who trade in grain. Meshili has a market on every first Saturday of the month.


Villagers from Olbalbal Ward occasionally move with livestock to as far as Kakesio and Loliondo if conditions within the ward are not favourable. Immigration of non-Maasai is prohibited. Many of the people moving into the area are either Maasai practising transhumance, or those coming to visit relatives or to obtain food. There are few government workers, mainly NCA game post staff, primary school teachers or staff at the ward dispensary.

Present village administration

Like other villages the Meshili village government has VGT committees:

  1. Planning and Finance
  2. Defence and Security
  3. Social Services
  4. Land Allocation

It was reported that most of the youth (Moran) have been given military training in order to curb the problem of Somali armed poachers who rob and attack villagers and government staff. Meshili is on one of the transit routes used by cattle thieves from Kenya enroute to Sukuma areas in Maswa, Magu, Bunda and in Serengeti District. Military training has helped, as Moran are now able to block the route.

Ownership, use and management of CPR

CPR as identified by villagers

The CPR identified by villagers are land, forests, water supply and rangelands.


The village government land committee allocates land. Each family is allocated one acre irrespective of the size of the family. The land around the village is divided into lower and upper areas. The upper area includes the plateau and mountainous areas and was reported to be fertile and suitable for farming because of the availability of spring water. There is also better pasture for grazing than in low lying areas. Villagers reported a lack of separation between farming and grazing areas. This is because all land is not suitable for farming. Therefore, people farm where they can find a suitable site for a maize garden. During the rainy season, the lowlands are used by wildebeest as calving sites and so are avoided by the Maasai. Livestock is moved to hilly areas to avoid contracting malignant catarrh. In the NCA, the heavy rains start in December and end in May with a peak in April. Maize is grown in November, December and January. Since game is widespread wild animals occasionally graze on the farms. The dry season starts in June and ends in October.

Residents in each sub-village are responsible for caring for their grazing land. People farm in suitable areas because they regularly lose animals to drought and disease. Farming means that they do not have to spend what little money they have on grain as they can produce it themselves. However, there are no agricultural extension officers allocated to the area because the NCA Authority (NCAA) fears that it might encourage more widespread farming. What was observed was opportunistic farming because villagers on this side of the NCA have very little knowledge of crop farming. They reported learning farming by copying what they see when they go outside the Maasai areas.


Forests surround the village. The villagers, Maasai traditional leaders, the village forest committee and NCAA protect forested land. The NCAA monitors land use to make sure that land is sustainably used and managed. There is also a ward land committee which includes ward leaders and NCA officers.


Villagers graze where they live but are free to use pasture anywhere within and outside the village. In the past Maasai burned forest and pastureland to eliminate ticks. Burning is now prohibited by NCA regulations. During the dry season, pastoralists migrate to as far as Kakesio and Osinon, which is at the other end of the NCA bordering Shinyanga Region.


The village has Olbalbal Lake and three charco dams. The dams were constructed by the NCAA. The water is shared between the villagers, livestock and wildlife. The village has no piped water supply. An extension line from the neighbouring village of Ngoile, where there is a Maasai cultural Boma, was requested. However, the plastic pipes used were occasionally destroyed by wildlife (elephants and warthogs) but more often by people who broke the pipes in order to water their cattle. There are plans to rehabilitate the water supply system so that villagers can have clean safe water. This time the pipes will be buried deeper to prevent accidental or deliberate damage.

The village authorities have formulated village water supply by-laws before embarking on the rehabilitation task. Fines to be imposed on vandalism range between 50,000-500,000 TAS or imprisonment. Apart from paying a fine, the culprit will be required to make the necessary repairs. The by-laws will be submitted to NCAA for approval.

Each sub-village with a water source like a spring or a dam has been assisted in forming a water committee. Each committee has about 12 members from each age group or set, i.e. youth (Koiyage), Moran, adults and women.

Past, present and future influences on resource use and management systems that impact on poverty alleviation

Restrictions on burning

Restrictions on burning has lead to an increase in tick related livestock diseases, loss of cattle and impoverishment. In the past burning was used to improve pasture and to eliminate ticks and tick born diseases. The reduction in livestock numbers due to diseases might encourage re-growth of grassland that was previously overgrazed. This re-growth may in turn improve the survival of game species, who’s numbers were reduced by the presence of livestock.

Restrictions on farming

Villagers are not allowed to farm and this exposes some families in food insecurity. Grain sold by pastoral Council/NCAA supported grain stores is sometimes infested with insects and no one will buy the damaged grain. However, traders from outside have been banned from bringing in grain to the NCA. The grain shortage may force villagers to farm in restricted areas causing a negative impact on the natural vegetation and grazing land.

Changes in Maasai life style

The changes includes the following:

Change in house design

The traditional Maasai Manyata is changing. Instead of using thin poles plastered with cow dung, the Maasai are now constructing rectangular houses using bigger hard wood poles. Houses are more permanent that before. They use more poles than before hence more trees are cut down. Bomas are also being constructed using hardwood poles rather than being fenced with thorny tree branches. Thick hardwood poles are used close together to build stronger fences and so reduce cattle theft. Although the logs might be cut once every few years the vegetation will still be affected as a hardwood tree takes many years to mature.

Change in dietary habits

Dependency on grain may turn more rangelands into farmland. This problem is being dealt with by making people in sub-villages responsible for managing the land in their sub-village. Also reported was a growing habit for eating wild products, mostly small game meat but not fish.

Change in outlook

More Maasai are looking for alternative livelihoods rather than pastoralism. The youth especially expressed concern over unemployment. Both men and women want loans for pastoral and non-pastoral activities, while some want to be allowed to use modern farming implements and to get agricultural advice through allocated agricultural extension workers. They want the present opportunistic farming and poor knowledge in crop husbandry to be addressed. These changes in attitude may lead to a less sustainable use of resources and negative impacts on the environment.

Norms regulating resource use

Village and NCA restrictions seem to apply.

NCA formal norms

  • Laws prohibiting or restricting agriculture
  • Laws prohibiting use of modern farming equipment
  • Laws prohibiting tree cutting
  • Laws prohibiting settlements, immigration or farming in an area without written permission from the Conservator
  • Restrictions in bush burning

Village norms

  • Transhumance (to reduce overgrazing)
  • Fines for vandalism of village facilities and destruction of the environment
  • Respect for traditional authority and advice

Conflict resolution

Any conflict which cannot be dealt with by sub-village leaders and the relevant village government authorities is referred to traditional leadership.

Village problems

Problems as identified by village leaders

  1. Lack of safe drinking water supply
  2. Education: better facilities are required for both primary and secondary education
  3. Security: the village is used by cattle thieves en-route to other districts outside the NCA and Serengeti (used by Somali bandits and poachers)
  4. Human and livestock diseases

Key pressing problems identified by villagers

  1. Water supply for people and livestock
  2. Hunger/Famine
  3. Diseases affecting people and livestock
  4. Road
  5. Education
  6. Drought
  7. No ownership of land
  8. Small areas for farming
  9. Distance from school to homesteads
  10. Lack of pasture

Common diseases

The villagers identified malaria, ARI, diarrhoea, worms, pneumonia, eye and ear infections, STD’s and urinary tract infections (URTI) as common problems. Anaemia, T.B and sporadic outbreaks of cholera and typhoid were also mentioned.

Financial benefits from natural resources

Direct money from NCA

The NCA Pastoral Council Chairperson resides in this village. He is also a Ward Councillor for Olbalbal Ward. He explained that the NCAA allocates 12% of their revenue from wildlife to the Pastoral Council (PC) for development of the pastoral community. NCA community development staff assist the PC in planning community matters for use of funds provided by NCAA. Although the PC was formed in 1994, its mandate was formalised in 2000 when it was also allowed to have a separate bank account. Funds from the NCAA are used to purchase grain (maize, beans) for sale to the NCA Maasai. Grain is kept in stores constructed by the NCAA. The grain purchased by the PC is not sold for profit. Approximately 189 million TAS is annually budgeted for the purchase of maize. The amount used is usually around 70 million TAS. This is because residents produce their own maize and also trade or barter for grain, so reducing the demand for PC grain. The NCAA conducts training for the PC and also facilitates scholarships and study tours for pastoral Maasai.

Veterinary services

The NCAA and Danida finance veterinary services in the NCA. The NCAA has a veterinary officer in each ward. Danida has trained village veterinary helpers to assist with livestock problems and provide education to livestock keepers. Danida also supports NCAA veterinary staff by providing medicine.

Secondary education

Using funds allocated by NCAA, the PC sends 36 primary school leavers to secondary school every year. Formerly, it gave priority to children from poor families, regardless of where they lived. More recently, they have decided to decentralise this process to the sub-village level so that each will have children who have gone through to secondary school. Priority for poor families led to the PC selecting children from the same poor families for secondary education, so some sub-villages had many secondary educated children while others had none. Therefore the PC decided to widen the selection process to include families who couldn’t pay for education in each of the sub-villages. The focus is now is to have at least one Maasai child in each sub-village who has gone through secondary education.

Water for livestock

Water in Meshili village is from Olbarba dam (a traditional dam), a water spring from the forest (pipes under construction), two dams constructed by the NCAA and piped water from Ngoire constructed by the NCAA. Water resources are accessed free of charge. Village participation was in terms of labour provision to dig trenches for laying pipes for the new water project under construction.

Food relief

Poor people are given 45 kg of grain per family per month. Those interviewed said that the food aid given to them through the NCAA-PC arrangements was not adequate since they have large families and occasional visitors. They would like to be allowed to produce their own grain on Olungwiti Mountains. They think the area is fertile and good for maize and beans. However, these mountains are important as a source of water and widespread farming could have a detrimental effect. They said that the present maize gardens they have are for roasting and snacking and are not used to produce grain.

Cultural bomas

There are four cultural bomas in the NCA, two in Olbalbal Ward, one in Olduvai gorge and the other in Erkepus. Tourists pay $50 per group to visit the cultural bomas. However, corruption is common and at present most of the money is being withheld by the tour drivers who take $45 and give only $5 to the cultural boma. Villagers have complained to both the PC and the NCAA but without success. Tour drivers force Maasai local leaders and residents to accept this situation by threatening to stop bringing tourists to the cultural bomas. Their argument is that they secure the tourists and so should get the majority of the money. All the Maasai villages in the NCA share the funds collected through the cultural bomas. Villagers who work in the bomas (dancing, showing tourists around, etc) are paid allowances. For individual gain, any one can sell handmade items in the boma. Like any other district, the Ngorongoro District Council charges a development levy, and licenses for petty and major trade. 20% of the levy is given to villages that submit the money.

Other benefits from natural resources

Other benefits include employment with the NCAA or in tourist hotels within the NCA. These can be considered as indirect benefits from natural resources since the presence of the NCAA and the hotels is linked to the natural resources in the area. The NCAA has asked hotel owners to provide employment for Maasai but not all are suitable for employment. People make use of wild fruits and traditional medicine is sold both inside the NCA and outside as far as Kenya.

A new by-law will allow villages to retain all revenue collected as livestock tax (2000 TAS for each cow sold and 500 TAS for each goat or sheep sold).

Identification of the poor

Last Updated: 17 December 2018