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Maasai Community Water Catchment and Sanitation

Service LearningService Learning | Community Tanzania

Project Overview

The Manyara Region of Tanzania, home to a large population of semi-nomadic Maasai people, can be very dry for much of the year. During this action-packed program, students serve a Maasai community from an area called Esilalei in numerous practical ways including the creation of water catchment troughs, building of pit latrines and distribution of water filters.

Water troughs are very simple in design and yet life changing for these culturally rich tribes that usually have to walk between five and twelve kilometers to collect water each day. The building of pit latrines is one of the first steps in the water sanitation process as it reduces the amount of waste run-off into water sources. The enclosures around the pit latrines are built using traditional Maasai materials and techniques. Lastly, the distribution of water filters is another way to improve water sanitation in the community.

Women from the community are engaged in creative income-generating programs. Our partner, an NGO called African Roots Foundation, coordinates the work to be done. Students also learn more about conservation efforts in the surrounding area as well as other community development initiatives.

Timeframe for Involvement

One to three weeks.

Service Impact

Bring life-changing water security solutions to the Esilalei Maasai community, and provide hands-on assistance to the African Roots Foundation’s ongoing work with women’s empowerment projects and education.

Learning Outcomes

  • Gain deep insight into the Maasai culture and traditions as you work alongside community members.
  • Develop an understanding of the challenges facing this semi-nomadic group.
  • Explore environmental issues common to the surrounding areas and conservation efforts.
  • Soak in the rich biodiversity of the area, learning about animals and their habitat.


Isoitok Campsite

The campsite is set in a rich wild savannah bush at an altitude of 1,075 meters above sea level. It backs onto the Losimingorti mountain range which acts as a natural wildlife corridor from the Ngorongoro highlands through to Manyara conservancy and on into Tarangire National Park. The campsite, complete with sleeping tents, dining tents, bush showers & toilets, is basic but comfortable.  It is discrete and private, yet also located close to the communities and projects that our groups engage with. Camping in the African bush allows an extraordinary closeness to nature in which one becomes in tune with the surrounding sights and sounds. Our chefs prepare a delicious mix of western and traditional style meals.

Featured Experiences

Mt. Kilimanjaro Day Hike

Known as the “Roof of Africa,” and standing at 5896 meters high, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest point on the African continent. What makes it all the more impressive are its three snowy peaks, topped with glaciers that often protrude above the clouds. Immersed in local myth and culture, and with breathtaking views, few mountains can claim the grandeur of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Ngorongoro Crater Game Drive

The Ngorongoro Crater, a caldera of an ancient volcanic explosion, teems with wildlife in all shapes and sizes. It has some of the densest populations of the “Big Five” on the planet and is renowned for its lush and captivating scenery. As a World Heritage Site, it is one of the most appealing game drive locations in Africa.

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