Eco-Friendly Leather Tanning and Manufacturing as a tool to improve livelihoods for women in pastoral communities of Tanzania and Kenya

Publié: 14 juin 2023
Dernière modification: 14 juin 2023
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Eco-friendly Leather Tanning and Manufacturing of leather products has been one of the best solutions for pastoral women living in the dry Savannahs of northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. Livelihood diversification for pastoralist women plays a key role increasing their resilience to environmental pressures. Pastoral women are often marginalized within their communities with limited access to alternative livelihood options and limited ownership of resources. In the pastoral communities, raw skins and hides are available at a low/no value, therefore introduction of skills and equipment for the vegetable tanning process increases the commercial value of non- processed skins. In line with capacity building and provision of equipment, this initiative also provided a good environment for market linkages in the two countries. The eco-friendly leather curing activity has created a livelihood option for women, an income generating activity  and also introducing another livestock by-product in the pastoral community.


Afrique de l'Est et du Sud
Ampleur de la mise en œuvre
Prairie tropicale, savane, maquis
Écosystémes des prairies
Adaptation au changement climatique
Connaissances traditionnelles
Connectivité / conservation transfrontières
Financement durable
L'intégration du genre
Moyens d'existence durables
Dégradation des terres et des forêts
Perte de biodiversité
Récolte non durable, y compris la surpêche
Manque d'autres possibilités de revenu
Changements dans le contexte socio-culturel
Chômage / pauvreté
Objectifs de développement durable
ODD 1 - Pas de pauvreté
ODD 5 - Égalité entre les sexes
ODD 8 - Travail décent er croissance économique
ODD 10 - Inégalités réduites
ODD 11 - Villes et communautés durables
ODD 17 - Partenariats pour la réalisation des objectifs
Objectifs d’Aichi
Objectif 4: Production et consommation durables
Approches pour l’engagement des entreprises
Indirect par le biais des consommateurs


Longido, Arusha, Tanzania | Loita-Kenya
Loita, Narok, Kenya
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Social Economic and Environmental Challenges

A major challenge to maintaining a resilient pastoralist community facing the pressures of climate change such as prolonged drought and flooding, has been the lack of diversity of livelihood options and few opportunities aside from traditional pastoralism. The gender inequality regarding formal education is matched by a lack of technical capacity and is compounded by their limited access to tools and resources to facilitate change. Thus, although cheap resources have been available in the locality in the form of skins from livestock, their capacity to transform this into economic gain through craftwork in curing and stitching leather, business skills and opportunities for microfinancing has been very limited. The opportunity to learn from other communities has been prevented by lack of mobility and resources.The lack of economic opportunity within these communities consequently contributed to the degradation of the soils and landscape on which they depend.


  • Loita Community-Kenya & Kitumbeine community in Tanzania 
  • District Community development departments in Kenya &Tanzania
  • Lodges, Camps & Curio shops in Tanzania & Kenya
  • Individuals buying leather products


Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

For a community livelihood program to be successful and sustainable, effective stakeholder engagement,  training and capacity building as well as marketing and promotions are necessary.  Stakeholder engagement and stakeholder mapping exercise was done at the beginning of the intervention which enabled a clear engagement plan to be set since the inception of the project. Involvement of key government and community stakeholders ensured acceptability of the intervention but also confirmed the demand of having Leather Capacity building in the pastoral areas. The content of the training and capacity building exercises was formulated from this initial engagement hence relevant content was created. Leather Training beneficiaries in both Kenya and Tanzania were selected by the local government representatives using an agreed selection tool. During training sessions, there was active participation of the government representatives to check the quality and the methodology used. During and after training, beneficiaries produced items which needed to be sold in the local and international market and an approach was designed on ensuring the leather items are sold and the community receives the financial benefits of their hard work.


  • 10 women from Kenya visited Tanzania’s leather tannery in Longido to learn in practice about leather tanning skills. This learning exchange was a remarkable exercise to enable women from the two countries to share experiences and opportunities available in their area.

  • About 35 women from Kenya and Tanzania were well trained in skills for curing leather naturally and for producing final leather products. The women have income which has supported their families. 

  • 2 leather centers in Tanzania and Kenya well equipped with tools to conduct leather tanning and for the manufacture of final products. 

  • Reduced biodiversity pressure because of diversified sources of income for youth and women.

  • Acceptance, Support, ownership and recognition of the initiative from the stakeholders and government agencies has made a major impact towards sustainability of the intervention.

  • Livelihood improvement and financial gain to the direct beneficiaries who are now able to support their families through the initiative.

  • Reduced pressure to the environment where women are now less engaged in unsustainable practices such as tree cutting and charcoal business.



Eveline Shuma from Olmesutie-Loita, Kenya

Eveline is one of the Leather Training beneficiaries who was lucky to join the Exchange visit to Tanzania. After attending the training, she was excited to be back in her country with her toolkit and continue with the production of leather products from home. She explains that “When I went back home, I started working on women's beaded leather belts which are very popular here in Loita! I produced and sold 3 belts and received a total of 10,500 Kshs. The money I got from the sales helped me start a small shop during the weekly market day every Saturday”.  

Eveline showed her eagerness to practice what she learned and even work from home during her free time to produce leather items. She even went a step further to seek  market for the goods she produced and was able to sell. Eveline also decided to re-invest the money she received in another business of selling goods on a Market Day in her village. From the look in the picture, she has also made herself a leather handbag, this means she has ownership of the intervention and she is proud to wear the bag.

It is evident that Eveline, as any other woman in the Pastoral community had no access to any economic activity before the intervention and she took this chance with good spirit to prosper economically. She also feels empowered and economically capable to support her family in providing education for kids and food for her family.

Her capacity as a woman can not be understated, she is an example of a capable woman who only lacks the means to utilize her handcraft and business skills. To-date, Eveline stands as a good example of strong women who can influence and empower others.

Contribué par

Portrait de director_42885

Mary Birdi OIKOS EA , Zoological Society of London (ZSL), South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO)