Zimbabwe: Update - From Piglets to Weaners, The Piggery Project Grows
21 August 2015

From piglets to weaners. 5 Of the weaners will be passed on to a group 10 women who will benefit from from the project, empowering them and benefiting their dependents. (Tendai Makoni/Jesuit Refugee Service)
“If you want work done, and done well, give it to a woman!”

Tongogara, 21 August 2015 - The piggery project that is part of the livelihoods initiative with the Mateo Sanchez Women Skills Development Centre Project, at Tongogara Refugee Camp in Zimbabwe, is yielding results. With the recent purchase of a boar (male pig), to breed with the three existing sows, the project can only scale up exponentially, producing more piglets, giving more women access to being able to rear their own pigs, therefore leading to the empowerment of more women. 

Although central to the project, it is not just about rearing pigs. But the first batch of piglets have now been weaned, being 3 to 4 weeks old and are referred to as weaners. These weaners are going to be passed on once they are porkers – when they reach 30 kg to 60 kg in weight. The aim of the project and the reason why the pigs are being bred, is to empower as many women as possible. With each litter produced, the eventual aim is to pass some of those piglets out of the litter on to the next group of women the project wishes to benefit. 

Therefore not all the piglets from the existent litter will be passed on once they reach maturity. Only 5 will be passed on to a group/co-operative of 10 women. From the litter, 13 will remain behind, 3 to 4 of these would be used for breeding and the rest is destined for the slaughter. The meat generates an income for the participants of the project, whilst the pigs passed on to other beneficiaries enable more women to benefit.  
The proceeds from the sale of the meat from one of the pigs, illustrates the massive potential the project has for its beneficiaries. With the income generated from the slaughter of one sow, another pregnant sow as well as the boar for breeding was purchased.

Since Tongogara Refugee Camp is not an enclosed, fenced-off camp, the women who rear these pigs are able to sell the meat to surrounding local communities. They are therefore able to generate incomes of their own and in turn, their children and dependents benefit as well. These women are able to supplement the nutrition their children have access to by buying food they would not ordinarily have access to without incomes of their own.

The Women’s Centre extends further in its reach as a place of refuge for vulnerable women. It provides basic education for women and girls that may not have had any access to education whatsoever. Based on a similar rationale as that applied with the piggery project, Tendai Makoni, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Country Co-ordinator smiles with glee as she says: “By September 2015, we will launch chicken and goat rearing project. By next year we would have added a rabbit rearing initiative for these ladies as well.”

Apart from animal husbandry, JRS also passes livelihood skills through basic reading, writing and numeracy lessons, business management and leadership skills training as well as market gardening. Apart from empowering women through basic education, the Mateo Sanchez Women Skills Development Centre Project, has also become a safe haven from a society that stigmatises single women. 

50 women are benefitting from the project at the moment but by 2016, a 180 will benefit from the programme. Whereas single mothers and widows are the focus group for the piggery project, the programmes of the Women’s Centre will extend to child-headed families, particularly those households that are headed by young women and girls. 

Despite there being of different cultures, nationalities and ethnicities present in the camp, with refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Somalia; the stigmatisation of single women is seemingly a common thread. One lady’s story, as told by Matoni, illustrates this: “A single woman who is part of a hairdressing co-operative told me her story. The roof to their hair salon is thatched, so when it rains, the roof leaks. She can’t do the repairs on her own but she is too scared to approach a man and ask him to assist with the repairs. If she does, and others within the community see this, they will accuse her of prostitution.”

These women have no option but to create livelihoods for themselves, and through the work of Matoni, JRS is guaranteeing that possibility. As Matoni puts it: “If you want work done, and done well, give it to a woman!”

Previous story on the high impact work being done at the Mateo Sanchez Women Skills Development Centre, through the piggery project.

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Gushwell F. Brooks
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