The Samburu District is located in central Kenya, away from major cities and trading centers.
Within the Kenyan federal system, Samburu district is typically overlooked and underrepresented,
receiving limited government funds and assistance. This is evident in the lack of infrastructure
and government services in the area. As the land is sparsely populated, it is often difficult to
distribute any resources to remote communities. The education system is under funded; schools
lack sufficient classroom space, supplies, and teachers. Health care facilities are few, under
funded and often difficult to reach, and those available are inadequate for people requiring
sophisticated treatment. Women, as their families' primary caregivers, are saddled with the
responsibility of traveling with sick members and waiting long periods of time for treatment.
Communication and information dissemination are also limited, since most communities do not
have access to telephone lines, internet, or even a daily newspaper. Lack of access to
communication leaves women without the means by which to put their rights into practice.
For example, without being able to contact the police, a woman cannot file charges against
an abuser. This problem is compounded by the fact that without access to information, women
have no way of even knowing what their rights are. Poor communication constrains the
possibility for cooperating women's groups to provide mutual advice and assistance. Further,
there are no paved roads within the district or the surrounding areas, making transportation
quite difficult. This makes transporting goods to and from markets expensive, time-consuming,
and exhausting. Women usually bear the burden of lengthy travel. For example, women in the
communities of Westgate and Kiltamany travel two days by foot to reach the nearest town to stock
their small shops with foodstuffs, and must pay for a costly private vehicle to transport the goods back.
A few fortunate manyattas are located near the Samburu reserve and receive some revenue from the
burgeoning tourism industry. However, many villages are isolated from such potential markets and
are forced to rely on their livestock for income. Being a nomadic people, the Samburu tend to settle
where there is available pasture for grazing for livestock. Those who wish to pursue tertiary
education must go to cities outside the district to do so. Once educated, these people often leave
their home in the Samburu district, as more jobs are available elsewhere.
The Samburu people are isolated from the rest of the country and are cut off from the central decision
making authorities; their particular problems are neglected and their concerns go unheard, making them
among the most marginalized in Kenya. The intersection of inequalities based on Samburu women's gender,
location, and ethnic group compound each of the aforementioned difficulties, and leave these women with
all the more reason to unite together in cooperative groups.