Women staring at poverty as beadwork business dries up - Beaking Kenya News

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Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Women staring at poverty as beadwork business dries up

Samburu beads
More than 60,000 women from five counties who have been supporting their families through beadwork are staring at poverty as the effects of Covid-19 on the economy increase.
The women who have been selling their wares to tourists and business people have been left without a source of income following the ban on international flights and restrictions on travel within the country.
These include 14,000 from Narok county, 22000 (Kajiado), 9,000 Marsabit, 12,000 (Samburu), 11,000 (West pokot), 7, 000 (Turkana) and 4,000 from Baringo County.
Ms Noonkipa Nayiari has been camping at the gate of one of the popular tourist destinations in Narok County every day to sell her beadwork to guests visiting the park.
For 10 years, this has been her working station. From here she makes bracelets and sells them mostly to the international tourists, earning up to Sh 5,000 on a good day.
She made enough to take care of her eight children, including keeping them all in school.
But life took an unexpected turn when the government announced a ban on international flights in March to curb the spread of coronavirus.
This has left most families that depended on this trade penniless, and unable to feed themselves.
Ms Nayairiand her fellow traders were forced to return home, hoping the situation would change soon.
"The only thing that is available is milk, which we can't sell because most shops are closed. It is also not available in every homestead," she told the Nation in a recent interview.
Ms Kiramatisho Kataka, a mother of six, has been in the business for seven years and she works with a group of 37 women with whom she co-owns a curio shop.
She has since gone back to grazing cattle from which she gets a few litres of milk for her children.
"We do not have food because we exhausted all our savings. We only have milk, and the amount is reducing every day," she notes.
In 2017, the government started Ushanga initiative Kenya to support women in the pastoral communities who have over the years displayed unique skills in beadwork.
At the time, most women in these communities did not own anything, apart from the jewellery they made from the beadwork. Most of this was for their own adornment and they earned nothing from it.
The government hoped to create jobs and transform the living standards of the pastoralist women through commercialisation of beadwork.
The project offered a ray of hope to women from marginalised communities in West Pokot, Narok, Baringo, Samburu, Turkana, Marsabit and Kajiado counties.
But the coronavirus pandemic has dealt the project a deadly blow.
Tourism and Wildlife Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe said the affected women’s groups had been classified by the government among the vulnerable groups.
“They are beneficiaries of the government’s stipend fund of Sh 2,000 which started last month (April),” said the Principal Secretary.
Women interviewed, however, said they were yet to receive any funding from the government.

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