Zanzibar — POLITICIANS, government leaders, and some development partners have been encouraging and supporting women to start up a business, and yet little is being done to help them find business.
Many women entrepreneurs have been complaining about lack of market for their productions and services, and some groups of women organizations have failed to develop due to unreliable market.
Members of 'Tusitegeane' Women group in Muyuni village, South Unguja, motivated to start making firewood stoves have similar complaint, and are being discouraged by lack of reliable market.
"We are now producing enough stoves for sale, but buyers are few, probably due to lack of advertisement. Adverts may be important in promoting our business," said Ms Mwatanga Mbaraka Mwinyikombo, chairperson of the group.
She said that while the members of the group are happy to have the skills to produce environmentally friendly cooking stoves, the challenge is lack of market to sell their goods and that more efforts are required to promote the stoves made from clay.
"The firewood burning saving stove is friendly to the environment as only small firewood is enough for cooking or preparing a meal," Mwatanga said adding that the newly invented stoves are economical.
The skills for manufacturing stoves were given to the women in Muyuni by experts "from 'Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD)'project, two of us were lucky to attend a short training on how to make the stoves. We then trained our colleagues."
The women group chairperson said the stoves are one of the campaigns to conserve forests and minimize massive use of the firewood. "Only a small wood is required for cooking anything compared to the traditional way."
"We make the stoves; encourage people in the village to use the stoves, alongside promoting to protect forests surrounding us. Fortunately, the response is good as many women have the stoves, and have minimized cutting down trees for firewood." Ms Hindia Abdallah Haji, secretary of the 'Tusitegeane' group says they sale the stoves at a price between 2, 000/- and 7,000/- depending on the size.
"We want to produce more stoves, but we must get market," she said. The Secretary said that lack of baking machine also hampers their efforts to make stoves, "we need the 'machine' sold at around 3m/- to improve our stoves production and quality of the stoves."
However, Hindia said that the challenge of lack of market and baking machine, the business has helped group members to earn money which they use to support their family like school needs for children and cloths.
"Our husbands must be happy because they do not have to carry the burden to care for the family alone. We save, and buy many things including supporting farming to get food. Our husbands also have to eat in-time as using the stoves we produce, we cook faster than in the past," Hindia said.
She said that while many people talk about the necessity for gender equality and the opportunity to improve livelihood of women, the female entrepreneurs have been struggling to get market for their products.
Environmentalists in Zanzibar warn that deforestation was alarming, and that collaboration between policy makers and communities surrounding the natural forests is crucial in protecting the few remaining forests in Zanzibar Islands. But as they warn, ignorance, poverty, lack of definitive boundaries of forests areas increases the likelihood of encroachment and land possession conflict, and costly alternative fuel such as gas cookers are some of the challenges hampering efforts in protecting forest in Zanzibar.
According to the United Nations, REDD is collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries which was created in September 2008 to assist developing countries to build capacity to reduce emissions and to participate in a future REDD+ mechanism.
REDD+ takes a role in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.
A research by Mr Rashid Said Masoud from the Department of forestry and non renewable resources reveals that cutting trees for firewood and charcoal is valued by rural residents as a way to earn money quickly, and available energy for cooking.
REDD campaign which includes educating village people to protect forests by at least reducing use of firewood like using 'firewood saving stoves. Experts say Zanzibar is vulnerable to climate change impacts, asking all people to implement mitigation strategies.
Mr Sheha Mjaja Juma, director of the environment department in Zanzibar says that Forests in Zanzibar are disappearing at an alarming rate of 1,000 hectares per year, and that if REDD is implemented well it can help stop the destruction of forests, and may be an effective solution that is already working in pioneering projects.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated in 2007 that the forest sector and other sectors that impact land use - through deforestation, forest degradation and other changes in forests - contributes approximately 17 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, per year. These emissions are mainly taking place in tropical developing countries.
It is estimated that a 25 per cent reduction in annual global deforestation rates could be achieved by 2015 if financing were made available from 2010-2015 for results- based incentives and capacity building, complementing other bilateral and multilateral REDD+ efforts.
In Africa REDD started as a pilot project in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Tanzania (and Zanzibar), and Zambia, but the Demand for the UN-REDD Programme's support has grown rapidly.