06 July 2016
|One of the project participants, tending to the rabbits in their enclosure. (Tendai Makoni/Jesuit Refugee Service)|
|These women are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse as they tend to be marginalised and stigmatised for being unmarried. Therefore, within a community of people living at the margins as refugees within Tongogara Refugee Camp, their vulnerability is redoubled.|
Tongogara, 5 July 2016 - Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Zimbabwe has developed a number of projects to address the vulnerability of single women, widows and single mothers. These women are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse as they tend to be marginalised and stigmatised for being unmarried. Therefore, within a community of people living at the margins as refugees within Tongogara Refugee Camp, their vulnerability is redoubled.
In order to protect these women and give them opportunities to sustain themselves within the confines of a refugee camp, JRS has rolled out a number of sustainable projects that allow these women to be financially independent. The piggery project that started in 2015 has morphed into a chicken and quail project respectively and has yielded resoundingly positive results.
The project’s success, has to be attributed to the commitment shown by the ladies, a commitment to feeding themselves and their dependants, as well as a commitment to be independent of exploitation. However, JRS has designed the project in such a way that it is scaled to accommodate teams to work in co-operative units, yet sufficient enough to provide these women and their families with additional income and nutrition. Not only have the pig and chicken projects been a huge success in Tongogara Refugee Camp for the widows and single mothers, but it has grown into a rabbit project for another 12 women. With the addition of this project to complement the existing projects, the total number of income generating projects for the women has grown to 3, within less than a year.
Despite the projects being very similar by nature, the success of these projects is as a result of its beneficiaries not coming into direct competition with each other. Some groups rear pigs, others rear quails for their eggs, some chickens and now with the introduction of rabbits, none of the women have to compete with each other for a share of the market.
The project has begun with 9 rabbits in total, 7 females and 2 males for breeding purposes. The aim is to breed rabbits for meat consumption as well as for resale both in the camp and outside. A sale of a fully grown rabbit for meat or breeding can be up to $10, which is much needed income for these refugee women.
The enterprise and innovation does not end there though as this group has taken the initiative and expanded the project. This group of women have started a vegetable garden to feed the rabbits, and so they do not incur further costs for feed. This vegetable garden however is large enough for them to also put additional food on the table for their families.
Instead of having to pay for chemical fertilisers, that are both expensive and potentially harmful to the environment in the long run, this group use manure from the pigs, chickens and rabbits and thus run an organic, sustainable farming operation.
It is their commitment, innovation and will to support themselves that has seen a project that started with a handful of pigs, morph into a wide ranging project that have given women the opportunity to be small scale farmers.
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