The income-generating groups established by Children in The Wilderness (CITW) for rural women in Zimbabwe assist with economic growth and poverty-reduction in remote northern Matabeleland. A lack of consistent and reliable livelihood options has led to high levels of poverty in this area, where communities rely on subsistence farming. However, erratic rainfall and poor Kalahari soils result in low yields and very seasonal operation.
The raising of livestock such as cattle and goats is reasonably successful but can be plagued by disease, making this livelihood unreliable as well. With an average monthly household income of USD 9, and most households having between five and eight members, many families struggle to provide for their basic needs, and many cannot afford to send their children to school.
To diversify livelihood options and reduce poverty in these areas, Wilderness Safaris and CITW have assisted with the creation of income-generating groups in the area. These allow women to utilise their creative skills by making unique products that can be sold.
As part of the establishment of these groups, workshops were held to educate the women on household budgeting and managing a small business.
This ensures that groups like these can be sustainable in the future, with self-management and motivation that should reduce the need to rely on CITW for ongoing support. Innovative ideas have been applied to utilise traditional skills in basketry, instilling pride in the local culture and encouraging women to work together, cultivating a sense of teamwork and community cohesion.
This project also provides a method of responsible recycling and the reduction of waste. Waste that is collected from Wilderness camps and picked up around communities is cleaned and used in the basketmaking, enhancing the products with vibrant colours found on, for example, confectionary wrappers. This leads to products with unique designs that individuals and businesses such as lodges are able to use as part of their interior design.
CITW markets the products to businesses around Victoria Falls and Hwange National Park to increase selling potential, and Wilderness Safaris displays stock in camps for guests to purchase.
Some of the products made by these groups so far include baskets, placemats, coasters, trays, and lampshades.
As these groups become more settled and broaden their product range, the income they will receive for their work will greatly help towards feeding and clothing their families, as well as paying for school fees. This ensures that children can continue with their education and teachers can be retained. Using locally made products not only empowers the communities and assists with economic growth and waste reduction, but also showcases to Wilderness Safaris guests the local talent and the importance placed on community upliftment.
These products can also be purchesed from African Antics online, for more information click here.
Read more inspirational stories from Children in the Wilderness in their latest issue of Eco-Stars magazine here.
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