Q/A With Virginia 10.17.2014

Life Style

For breakfast they eat a thin water and wheat mix, similar to cream of wheat. For their other meal they like to eat ugali which is a thick mashed potato-like of water and flour and they like it a lot. Sometimes they eat rice or beans and they are starting to add kale or cabbage to their meals alongside the ugali if it’s available at the market and their finances at the time. In markets they have roast beef and they will enjoy a goat at special occasions such as the birth of a child of for a wedding.

Water Taps

Tap water in Longido is for domestic use (drinking water, cooking, washing, anything in the house) as well as some livestock use. The livestock are usually walked out of Longido to a well or open area to graze and get water.

While the women are standing in line they usually socialize and talk. The length of time they stand in line for depends upon the flow of the water that day. If it’s low they go and get 5 buckets, then another 5, then if there’s enough they get more up to a maximum of 22 buckets per day (during the rainy season; during the dry season they may be able to only collect around 5 buckets worth). A typical wait is about half hour to 45 minutes for someone who lives closer to the tap.

The public tap is used all year round and villagers can access it on their designated days. There is a person who regulates the tap in the village.


There is a permaculture project that has hafirs (a demonstration project) that is run by Testigo Africa in Longido and also in Kimokouwa. The villagers do not personally have hafirs, right now they are just a demo project. They were very pleased with the demo hafirs, but Virginia is concerned about how long the hafir will last when Testigo stops directly supporting them.

On Livestock and Agriculture

In the Maasai culture livestock is a HUGE cultural tradition. It’s their livelihood and way of living. The men have their identity in their livestock, they also determine their wealth and status by the number of livestock they own. It’s all about livestock. For a man to sell a cow it’s a huge step. They don't typically sell livestock because it’s how the man sees himself and it’s part of his identity. Selling part of his herd would be to lose his status and identity.

The Maasai currently don't have much agriculture because it’s dry, and the land is very hard to do agriculture on. It’s not been a part of their way of life and is just starting to become accepted now. As they become more settled and educated the community recognizes the value of having vegetables in their diet, and growing their own vegetables will reduce the cost of going and buying vegetables at the market. They will be looking for ways to have small scale gardens that will support them in their everyday living.

They currently plant sukuma wiki (which is a kale like veggie), carrots, onions, tomatoes, and papaya trees. They have tried with little success a cucumber or egg plant (but you need a lot of knowledge to grow these successfully).

Vegetables are planted by hand or with a hoe or small shovel. They have tried bag gardens. To make a bag garden you toss the plants and gravel in the centre and cut slits in the bag and try carrots or onions this way. It's nice because you don’t have to dig, but not very successful because many of the homes are shared with the livestock, so the goats come and eat the veggies from the side of the bag leaving nothing for the household. Some have also tried a raised bag garden (about 2 feet off the ground) or a raised traditional garden.

Most of the grown vegetables are for consumption for their own family, and the excess may be sold. A couple of women may have 10-20 tomatoes or a few carrots to sell and create a small business. One woman was doing quite well selling her vegetables, (which saves her a lot of time traveling to market to get them herself). She was growing them on a 10’ x 6’ plot of land.

There is fertile soil about 4 feet down but it’s too pricey to access that soil because the ground is too hard. The Maasai of Longido are all about the WATER and LIVESTOCK because that is their culture.

Open farming is a challenge because it’s very susceptible to animals that wander around and the elements.

They do not have terrariums.


Garbage is not repurposed in Longido formally – but they do use everything to their maximum as there is so little (rubber used to tie things to a motorcycle, clothes worn then used as rags then as ties). Though there are artisans in Arusha that do it, but not formally in Longido itself.

They have no garbage collection or anything, everyone is responsible for their own waste. They dig a hole near their house and everything goes into that hole. Some people are into composting, but often everything gets tossed into the same pit and gets burned. After it builds up a new one is dug. Garbage gets tossed from cars, and dropped as people are walking along. It's a real problem but there is no solution yet.

Arusha does have a garbage collection system and places to dispose of your waste.

The garbage mostly contains plastic water bottles, plastic packages (jam, etc.) tissues, paper (school stuff) candy wrappers, not many canned items, it’s a lot of plastic and some jars. A large bucket or pail (ie:detergent bottle) will be reused for a water carrier or container.

People do recognize that garbage is a problem but there is NO alternative so they don’t have a choice to do something else. The schools are working hard to plant flowers and things to keep the school compound clean but in the broader community it’s a free for all. They do have a sense of keeping MY space clean, but no sense of responsibility for the public areas. The front porch will be swept and kept clean of garbage but just beyond that it is public land and no one feels responsibility for it.


Electricity is used for television, radio, occasional computer, charging solar lanterns (if it’s lost its power) and the occasional fridge. Though more fridges are being seen in Longido now.

Some guest houses do have a hot water pump that requires a constant electricity flow for a guest room.

There is no use of electricity for heat (propane is used for heat) or fans because it is too unreliable and too expensive. They turn the electricity off at the wall as soon as the phone is charged.

Monetary Systems

They currently have MPesa in use in Longido (MPesa is a mobile banking system) With a store as small as. 2’ x 2’ they can afford to use MPesa to do their transactions with.


The  Maasai women are limited in a business sense. They rely on bead making, and heavily on the tourism industry which is very low in Longido and somewhat seasonal.

Quite a few projects have worked with the women as a collective and improved the quality of their bead making. One woman can take the beads into Arusha and sell them there and that is successful, but one woman working on her own in Longido will not be successful because there is no market.

Some other businesses the women have are: selling chickens, selling milk, selling fabrics door to door, or roasting corn and selling it a a roadside cart. Some successful small restaurants/stands have a steady income. Slightly larger stores or vegetable stands run throughout the year are quite successful too. There is also a cell phone store in Longido.

Currently 130 women involved in micro-business at TEMBO.

If a woman is given a goat it becomes part of the man’s livestock. Some women do take the money and spend it how they see fit rather than the man of the household, but it varies a lot depending on the family.


Yes! They were hoping there would be some play spaces. It would be really nice to have a place they could come and go, and a community space to gather and talk to other people. TEMBO is currently looking at building a learning center and possibly a play space.

Children currently play anywhere and everywhere – play with anything they find (sticks, lids of buckets, tires, tiny bits of plastic, glass, broken stuff) play hop-scotch, singing, pebble game (traditional), love a deck of cards, skipping rope, soccer ball made of found stuff (size of tennis ball or something).

Regular soccer balls get punctured by thorns in about half an hour! The ones the children make last a lot longer because they cannot be punctured.

There wasn't anything Virginia could think of that would stop the children from playing.

The adults relax by socializing at each others houses, telling stories, listening to music, going to restaurant and having a beer, singing in the choir in the church, or playing cards if they can get a deck of cards.

Cultural Barriers

Looks like through all our calls all the cultural barriers Virginia can think of have been covered except possibly healthcare. She will look into that further and talk to the doctor.


Bricks are made by hand which is very labor intensive – made of mud and water. They slap the mud into a tool and make two bricks at a time, then carry the mold twenty feet to dry the bricks in the sun and dump it and then repeat. They do this for hours on end in bare feet bent over the bricks. Many bricks crumble when they are dried or some just aren’t dry. So it's not a very efficient process.

Meeting with Water Engineer

He was very interested in the efficiency of the solar cleaner system, fog nets, tarp add-on to house, and community space water gathering, He was looking at ways in which the project could be integrated into public spaces – they would serve as a demonstration project and also get water for the community on a larger scale.

There a three specific areas they are interested in – Longido Chair person, Kimokouwa chair person, and Indocaraute (spelling?) village. The respective chair persons are all very interested in the water project. Sources of water are different in all three but the overriding issue is the quantity of water available to the people.


An iPad picks up internet quite well but the rocket sticks are slow on the 3G. 1 month of internet is 35,000 Tshillings for 3G service.

Postal Service

There is a little post office with about 100 mail boxes ( you can rent one) which is used if you have a business, but most mail is delivered by hand to people and not by the post box.  A lot of letters are written and used as a way of introducing a project or person.


Power lines were installed in 2010. The power comes from Temesco, who is now continuing main line to the far side of Longido. It currently stops at the main line of the village. It’s getting more affordable (schools now have it) though it is still quite expensive.


There's a couple of them in Longido. There is the main reservoir, the bore hole, and a new reservoir near the TEMBO guesthouse. They are about ½ km up the mountain.

The bore hole is no longer used because the pump was too small and they are currently trying to find a way to replace the pump.  As a result all the distribution lines connected to that bore hole are shut down and not working.

The bore holes are not up in the densely vegetated part of Mount Longido. There are trees on the flat part of Longido (Acacia’s) about 8-12 feet tall. Where the mountain starts to go up it gets rocky and the reservoirs are located below where you get into the thicker forest.

The bore hole that’s being used is fed by streams coming down the mountain (both reservoirs are same height up the mountain). They are about 6-7 feet above ground.  Mt. Miru supplies water for Ingacarete (pop. of 2000 people) but they have water quality issues.

Some maasai have built small damns to reservoir water on their property.

Kimoukowa gets their water from a stream on the back side of Longido and rely on three damns to direct the flow.

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