Even now when construction is still going on, villagers have already started using it, bringing to the market vegetables, fish, coconuts and other supplies and thus creating a one-stop centre for women to get their needs instead of wandering from one place to another looking for goods.
“Most of the women in the village are seaweed farmers. We usually come home late from our work and we had problems getting vegetables and other requirements for evening meals for our families. But since this market started operating on part time basis, the problem has been solved; we are happy about it,” said Khadija Abdallah Mduru.
Women who engage in seaweed farming spend almost the whole day in their farms and come back home in the evening. They must then prepare the evening meals for their families. “The problem is that when we come back home we are very tired. But we have to go out again to look for requirements for the evening meals and that is not easy. When you cannot find what you need from one place, you have to move from one house to another. This market has made life easy for us,” explained Fatuma Makame Chande, a resident of Kajengwa and a seaweed farmer.
Currently only a handful of goods are brought for sale to the market on account that there is interference with construction and vendors operate only part time, usually bringing their foodstuffs in the evening. On completion it is expected that more goods will be brought and business will be conducted throughout the day. Construction of the market building is funded by a grant from UNDP’s Small Grants Programme (SGP) and the costs stands at about 17m/-
It is part of grant amounting to a total of about 100m/- that also finances four other projects: supply of clean and safe water, beekeeping, conservation of the environment and tree planting.
Women are particularly grateful to the SGP for allocating 15m/- for the seaweed farming project which has greatly improved their incomes. The grant has been directed towards purchase of equipment used in the farming and the cost of transporting the product from the farms to homes or directly to the buying centres within the village.
“Seaweed farming has set us free economically and socially. For one thing it is easier than cutting trees in the forest and selling firewood or charcoal, for another we earn much more from seaweed farming than in selling firewood. I don’t have to depend on my husband to buy what we need at home, I earn good money from seaweed farming,” explained Mdunga Sima Musi.
Women who undertake seaweed farming earn an average 30,000/= per month, “But those who are hard working earn as much as 60,000/- month. You can’t get that much money from selling firewood,” she said.
The beekeeping project is also paying dividends with individual beekeepers earning as much as 5m/- a year. “We have a group of beekeepers which is like a cooperative society but each member works individually. So buyers of honey move from one farmer to another and although the entire product is sold, they could fetch a better price if all the honey was sold at one point. The producers could also have the bargaining power and this could drive the price higher,” explained Idrisa Haji Hassan the coordinator of the projects funded by SGP in the village. The SGP has injected 24m/- in this project.
Hassan explained that plans are afoot to make sure that all the honey is sold at the market so that producers can bargain with buyers as a group and not as an individual who can be manipulated by the buyers.