Discussions about conservation, development and sustainability. Rural locations. A focus on both human health and the health of our natural environment. None of this was new for Fred Kariankei, and yet, the context was very different than his usual day-to-day.
For the second year in a row, the Sparkman Center for Global Health sponsored a community member from the Maasai Mara in Kenya to participate alongside UAB students in the Southern Institute for Appropriate Technology (SIFAT) 2-week field course this May.
Fred Kariankei is a native of the famous Maasai Mara in Narok County, Kenya, home to the seventh wonder of the world. Currently he is working with Nashulai Maasai conservancy as a manager. He focuses on ensuring sustainability through innovative ideas that will earn the conservancy income, and implementing programs designed to better the lives of conservancy members.
While at SIFAT, Fred took a special interest in constructing efficient cookstoves. As Fred explained, “A problem in homes [in the Maasai Mara] is that it’s very smoky. There’s very little ventilation. People don’t spend a lot of time inside during the day so they don’t need a lot of light and at night they want their homes to be warm.”
Most Maasi homes use 3 stones for cooking, which doesn’t maximize the use of firewood and emits more smoke. The fuel-efficient cookstoves constructed at SIFAT use 16 bricks and have a ventilation pipe so that smoke leaves the home. Fred said it was “really great to learn about these simple, easy to make stoves” that could positively impact the health of his community.
Fred also appreciated the multiple perspectives of students attending SIFAT. On the one hand, there were UAB students who were largely in their undergraduate studies and hadn’t necessarily traveled abroad before. Then there was Fred and others who traveled directly from their homes in lower-income countries to partake in the SIFAT training. This diversity and cultural exchange was a highlight for all students involved.
Last year, Margaret (Maggie) Sakian Koshal traveled from Kenya to participate in the SIFAT Training. Maggie also works with the Nashulai Masaai converserancy as the Family, Gender, and Education Coordinator. She is very passionate about empowering young girls and ending the practices of female genital mutilation (FGM). You can read more about the work she does on their website.
SIFAT course counts as an elective for undergraduate students studying public health and for graduate students pursuing the graduate certificate in Global Health Studies.
If you’re interested in visiting SIFAT, make sure to join our newsletter list. The Sparkman Center will organize a day-trip to SIFAT this fall. Dates to come.