Trust for African rock art (TARA)
The Kakapel rocks are hosts to art forms dating back about 4,000 years. The ancestors of the Iteso used to draw images of wild animals, and initiation symbols on these rocks, but harsh weather and human encroachment threatened the integrity of the rock art and hence the initiative to preserve the art for posterity.
The Safaricom Foundation and Trust for Rock Art (TARA) partnered to construct a community centre to preserve, market and promote the Kakapel Rock Art in Teso, Western Kenya. Although the passage of time and weathering have taken their toll on the art, the paintings are now rehabilitated, are clearly visible and the site is now being aggressively marketed by the local community as a tourist attraction in the Western Kenya tourist circuit to spur socio-economic development in the region. The Foundation has also partnered with TARA to construct the Abasuba Cultural Centre in Suba district.
The direct benefits of the project to the Suba community include employment of 30 community members on a fulltime basis. Others were also involved in supply of construction materials and water and therefore earned a livelihood during the construction period. The rock art sites have also seen an upward surge in visitor numbers as a result of the project's marketing activities. Community committees which manage the sites and collect all the entry fees have recorded an increase in visitor numbers and consequently, increased incomes. Entry fees collected by these site committees go towards community initiatives like orphan education, building schools, and micro-financing of local business. The Foundation's grant made it possible for TARA to remove the damage done to the rock art drawings by graffiti and to improve both conservation and accessibility In addition to conserving these invaluable historical treasures, the Teso and Suba communities now derive the benefits of generating income from the resultant increase in tourism activity arising from these projects hence empowering the communities economically and preserving Kenya's diverse cultural heritage