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close this bookWomen of Kibwezi - A Case Study of the Kibwesi Women's Integrated Rural Development Programme (HABITAT, 1990, 76 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentI. Background
View the documentII. The Council for Human Ecology-Kenya and the Women of Kibwezi
View the documentIII. The beekeeping, honey and wax refining group
View the documentIV. The brick-making and home-building groups
View the documentV. The improved milk goat breeding project
View the documentVI. The fish and rabbit breeding groups
View the documentVII. Handicraft groups
View the documentVIII. Organization of various women's groups
View the documentIX. The administration
View the documentX. Land adjudication
View the documentXI. Kibwezi Health Centre - AMREF
View the documentXII. Education
View the documentXIII. Conclusions
View the documentXIV. Lessons learned
View the documentBibliography

III. The beekeeping, honey and wax refining group

As already mentioned, after the first meetings held in late 1980 with the leaders of the traditional women's self-help groups, the mwethias, a group of 60 women was trained in Kibwezi in April 1981, in beekeeping. They took up this traditionally male occupation with much enthusiasm and proved extremely efficient, capable and willing to learn new skills. Therefore, also in April 1981, an application was made by CHEK to the Commissioner of Lands for a 1.2-ha plot in Kibwezi Town on which to build a honey and wax refinery.

At a meeting held on 16 May 1981, at which 108 women, four location chiefs and eight sub-location chiefs were present, the women took out collective membership in CHEK and a management committee was constituted. This consisted of the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman of CHEK, the Head of the Beekeeping Division of MOLD, the community development officer, the division and district livestock officers and a representative of the Sisters of Mercy. A local implementing committee was also elected consisting of the Women's Groups' leaders and the divisional government officers.

The project developed slowly. On United Nations Day, 24 October 1981, the Kenya Freedom from Hunger Council donated their routine “starter” kit to the Women's Group: five hives, one set of protective clothing and hive tools. Another 15 hives were donated by MIDP and later in the same year, OXFAM gave KSh 10,000 with which 5000 more hives were purchased.

In December 1981, positive offers of funding were received from the Canadian Presbyterian Church for what would be considered a “pilot” project. This grant was handled by the Canadian International Development Agency and consisted of a revolving, operating fund of KSh 30,000 for the purchase of honey and essentials for the marketing of both honey and wax (jars, labels, etc). Another KSh 47,000 were earmarked for the fencing of a 100-acre plot on which nectar-producing trees were to be planted, and KSh 12,000 for six visits spread over two years by an expert in apiculture. This money was only received in January 1983 by a Brother Burke of the Farmers' Training Centre, Molo, who invested most of it at 16 per cent interest. Finance Co. Ltd. The operating fund was banked in acct. no 5619. Assistance in this transaction was given by Women's Progress and, in particular by Mrs. Mary Okello, a bank official, and Mrs. Christine Hayanga, the Women Agriculture Credit Officer with AFRACA.

The 100 acres of land were to be planted with Prosopis, seedlings of which are available in Kenya, at 25 foot intervals. Three quarters of the trees were then to be removed for firewood and/or charcoal to allow the remainder to mature. The plantation was later to be turned over to the people, possibly subdivided into 10-acre plots for agroforestry intercropping etc. Unfortunately, it took until 1987 to identify these 100 acres which had, in the meantime passed from private ownership to that of the Kenya Government. When this was done, the area was found to be dense forest. The situation was rather tricky. It needed to be researched and assessed to see how many and which trees could be removed - if any - how much bushland could be cleared and then to proceed with the planting of indigenous nectar-bearing trees in preference to Prosopis, so as not to alter the taste of the Kibwezi honey.

Refining equipment, also donated by the Canadian Presbyterian Church, arrived on 9 December 1982 and was installed in temporary, rented quarters, paid for by CHEK for the first three months. Out of their honey proceeds the women were then able to pay the KSh 400 per month required.

In May 1982, CHEK received a grant of £2,000 from the United Kingdom-based Beatrice Laing Trust and a further equal grant from the same donor in 1983. This money was used towards the purchase of building materials for a honey-and-wax refinery, the plans for which were drawn up by the Vice-Chairman of CHEK, and approved by the medical and other authorities in January 1983. A brick-making women's group has organized to start producing sun-dried cement-stabilized earth blocks ahead of time. Another group of men and women did the required excavation work on a “Food for work” basis (see figures 2 and 3).

To enable the Women's Groups' Chairlady, Mrs. Ziporah Nganga, to devote her full time and energy to the women's interests CHEK paid her a regular salary of KSh 500 per month from December 1982 to February 1985, when the Women's Group had sufficient funds to take over this aspect of the operation. In 1989 the groups were paying KSh 1,500 per month in salaries to their Chairlady and the rotating two members of their groups who do the actual refining and bottling work.


Figure 2. Excavating the site for the honey-and-wax refinery, 1985.

In July 1983, a network of buyers was established throughout the division and posters were printed indicating who was buying honey where, on what days and at what price (see figure 4). In the same month, the Laing grant was audited in London and accounts certified as correct. The building was, however, not finished (see figure 5). To complete it an application was made to CIDA and a grant of KSh 116,809 was received from that source in September 1984. This covered the costs of a piped water supply to the refinery, solar heaters which eventually reduced refining times from 6 hours per batch to 45 minutes, and VIP (ventilated improved pit) latrines and showers. Work on these started immediately and was completed in 1985 (see figures 6 and 7).


Figure 3. The sun-dried earth-block walls completed for the refinery (1984)

Figure 4. Sample poster.

KIMANYITHIYA

Uki wa nzuki woonthe ula mutwesaa ukethiwa uithooe-wa ndunyuni ii iatianie vaa itheo:-

1. Makindu ............... Muthooi Mrs. Anna Jacob Muli kila Jumatatu
2. Athi ............... Muthooi Mrs. Tabitha Munyilu kila Jumanne
3. Machinery Muthooi .............................. kila Jumanne
4. Kambu Ukathoewa Co-Operative Store kila Jumamosi
5. Kibwezi bondeni Nyumbani ila ya Uki wa Nzuki - kila Jumamosi

Thooa ukeethiwa KShs. 7/- kwa kila kilo
Uki wina maseo indi museso

KIBWEZI WOMEN'S GROUP
KIBWEZI DIVISION


Figure 5. Refinery near completion.

On completion of these buildings, CHEK had fulfilled its commitments to the Women's Group on this particular aspect of the intended development. It was then felt that the plot on which the refinery was erected and which had, initially, been registered in CHEK's name to ensure its satisfactory development according to plan, could now safely be transferred to the women. This decision was also influenced by the abortive attempts which had been made to deprive the women of their project. These are described below. The transfer took some time but was completed on the 28th October 1985 when the plot was registered in the women's name.


Figure 6. Storage rain-water tank and solar heater.


Figure 7. The VIP (Ventilated improved pit) latrine.

A request by the women for assistance from the Peace Corps, resulted in the posting of a young American Volunteer at Kibwezi and in seconding a qualified economist to audit the Women's Groups' accounts and to teach them simple forms of bookkeeping. Later, from April 1985 to May 1987, the Groups benefited from the presence in Kibwezi of a new Peace Corp Volunteer who was a qualified small business advisor to rural women and who facilitated training seminars, organized work schedules and upgraded honey processing techniques to the point where production and sales increased and profits were shown for the first time in four years. When this Volunteer left, the project was deemed well established and there is no one in Kibwezi now assisting the women in running their own business (see figure 8).


Figure 8. The Bee-keeping Women's Group Executive Committee meets in, the refinery building's office. On the left, Miss Mwana Shehe a United States-trained, Kilifi (Kenya) - born Peace Corps economist, who taught the women simple accounting and book keeping methods. The speaker is Mrs. Zipporah Nganga, the Women's Groups' Chairperson.

As an outcome of happenings following a political crisis in an adjacent country, when CARE had to close down its very successful honey operation there, the services of one of its experts in beekeeping and honey processing were offered to CHEK to elaborate a comprehensive development plan for Kibwezi. This plan was discussed with members of the Beekeeping Division of the Ministry of Livestock Development and was approved by the Deputy Director. At that point it became clear, however, that the women's honey and wax operations were in danger of being taken out of their hands. The Government of Kenya installed a manager and an accountant at the refinery and made Mrs. Nganga its assistant manager with a salary of KSh 2000 per month - an offer she accepted. Funds for these developments were to come from a grant from the African Development Foundation, requested by Dr. M. Mullei through the United States Agency for International Development. A lightweight truck was to be allocated to the project to enable the purchase of honey from more remote areas and a large number of hives were to be acquired from the Beekeepers' Association who had achieved a monopoly of sorts in this matter.

In the meantime, the media gave the Women's Integrated Rural Development Programme a great deal of publicity. Not only had articles appeared from time to time in the three major Kenyan English newspapers, but a children's newspaper distributed to all primary schools in Kenya, published a special issue on “Bees - a natural resource” including a poster on beekeeping and reported many requests for extra copies and more information. The women's activities have also been the subject of a brief newsreel shown country-wide by the Ministry of information. Tribune, on women and development a quarterly magazine published by the International Women's Tribune Centre Inc., devoted its thirty-sixth newsletter, for the third quarter of 1986, to the Kibwezi women's beekeeping activities. International Agricultural Development published an article in its January/February 1987 issue entitled “Bees can buzz for the poor” with a special insert, “Kenya women make bees pay off”.

The beekeepers' and brickmakers' groups have participated in various trade fairs and exhibitions. As mentioned earlier the rural developments project was considered one of the five best in Kenya and Mrs. Nganga, representing the women, and the Vice-Chairman of CHEK, were invited by the Institute of Cultural Affairs to participate in the International Exhibition of Rural Development which was held at New Delhi from 10 to 23 February, 1984.

The Project has received many important visitors from overseas, among them Mrs. Zena Daysh, Executive Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council, London, Mr. and Mrs. Harley the Administrators of the Laing Trust, and Prof. Smith of CIDA. Mrs. Vezina the Canadian Minister for the Environment visited the refinery in 1985 and was made an “honorary” Mkamba and dressed accordingly by the women. A large group of NGO participants in the Forum held on the occasion of the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade of Women visited Kibwezi, as did an international delegation of university women attending a meeting on the theme “Women and shelter” in 1987. A representative of the German Appropriate Technology Exchange visited the developments started or implemented by the women in 1987, and was so impressed by what she saw that she initiated approval of a grant of DM 25,000 from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany towards the erection of the proposed canteen, classrooms and hostel. This money was received, plans for the canteen were drawn up and approved by the authorities concerned, and construction work started shortly thereafter. By October 1989, this was completed. Further funds for the hostel etc., have been promised by the same organization. In the meantime, the Canadian International Development Agency has been approached with a request for a spare set of honey refining equipment to avoid hold-ups in production due to possible mechanical failures and also to allow the capacity of honey and wax handled to be doubled.

It is clear from the foregoing that the women have very successfully become involved in a formerly exclusively male occupation and, in the process, have learned to trust their own abilities and to be self-reliant (see figure 9). All the groups have opened separate bank accounts and are now handling their income and their outgoing expenses themselves without any outside help whatsoever. Their account books have been regularly audited since November 1986. Where some men who used to be beekeepers have returned to their families, the women have engaged in a complicated system of work-and-income sharing with them: the men keep the bees and give the honey and wax to the women to sell and the women pay them a small fee for their actual work. This may well be a unique system of income-sharing between members of one family. Table 1 is a breakdown of the Women's Beekeeping groups.


Figure 9. Women bee-keepers show off their honey combs.

As can be seen from table 1 there are only 18 groups that are exclusively beekeepers. Each of these has been given two hives of the “top bar hung” variety by the Co-operative as a starting point. This type of hive is the monopoly of the Kenya Beekeepers' Association, a semi non-governmental organization attached to the Ministry of Livestock Development. Some 250 of these have been rejected by the bees. The reasons for the bees' refusal to inhabit them are being investigated. In addition to these two initial hives, several groups have bought some of these modernized types (at KSh 250, a considerable sum for rural women) and where the number of hives is mentioned in relation to any Group, it refers to these new types. There are many traditional hives in use and these are the main producers of honey and wax. Each of the four locations has set aside a plot on which 12 beehives are hung together. This is where novice or would be beekeepers can come and receive tuition. During the writer's most recent visit to Kibwezi on 20 September 1989, she was requested to find funds for and organize a new training course in apiculture for 80 women who wish to be taught, “properly”, and not by other women who may already have forgotten some of the things they had been taught.

Table 1. Women's beekeeping groups

Name of group

Year started

Number of members

Other activities

Bank account

Location: Kikumbulyu

1.

Tei wa Athi

1984

22

Goats

Yes

2.

Uthangaau wa Ilimya

1985

19

Goats

Yes

3.

Syonkivulu

1984

23

Goats; plot in town

Yes

4.

Munyithya

1983

31

Goats

Yes

5.

Mutanu

1984

23

6-acre farm; kiosk

Yes

6.

Kanini Kaseo Makaani

1983

13

Poultry; farm

Yes

7.

Mwangaza

1981

12

Rabbits

Yes

8.

Kasa Moyo

1984

28

Poultry; farm

Yes

9.

Wendo wa Nzouni

1985

28

Goats

Yes

10.

Wasya ya Kikoo

1983

15

Poultry

Yes

11.

Taa wa Mikunyuni

1983

37

Farm; plot in town

Yes

12.

Yamiwa

1984

21

Kiosk; piped water

Yes

13.

Kuweta na Kwika

1984

47

Kiosk

Yes

14.

Kabete

1984

21

Brick-making

Yes

15.

Kikumbulyu

1983

16

Plot in town

Yes


Sub total

376


Location: Makindu

16.

Nyota ya Kiboko

1983

59

Goats; 12 hives; piped water; plot in town

Yes

17.

Tia wa Vinya

1984

20

2-acre farm; hives

Yes

18.

Kiththeesvo kya Aka

1984

22

5-acre farm; 6 hives

Yes

19.

Ujusi wa Aka Kiwanzani

1985

20

Goats; 6 hives

Yes

20.

Wasya wa Kaluluini

1983

25

Brick-makers; farm; 6 hives

Yes

21.

Syengoni

1985

35

Farm; 7 hives

Yes

22.

Makindu Tuikanoa

1983

25

Poultry

Yes

23.

Wendo wa Kisingo

1984

25

Poultry

Yes

24.

Wendo wa Ngakaa

1983

35

Farm

Yes

25.

Savaani

1983

25

Farm

Yes

26.

Umanyi wa Ikiugi

1984

20

Brick-making

Yes

27.

Wendo wa Usungu

1984

26

Poultry

Yes

28.

Kyeni wa Kisae

1984

20

Goats

Yes

29.

Kyeni kya Ulini

1985

19

Farm

Yes

30.

Mwangaza wa Kaunguni

1983

21

Goats

Yes

31.

Wendo wa Ngomano

1983

36

Goats; Tree nursery

Yes

32.

Makindu Women Group

1983

17

Plot in town; 14 hives

Yes


Sub total

450


Location: Mtito-Ndei

33.

Kyeni kya Manguluku

1983

19

Building houses; farm

Yes

34.

Kyeni kya Mutituni

1983

28

Brick-makers

Yes

35.

Wendo wa Kithima

1984

15

Farm

Yes

36.

Kyeni kya Ivingoni

1984

19

Farm

Yes

37.

Mumo nya Calivonia

1983

24

Goats

Yes

38.

Kalunda ka Ivingoni

1983

22

Farm

Yes

39.

Ngela

1983

25

Farm; plot in town

Yes

40.

Muthethya

1983

22

Farm

Yes

41.

Ngwatanyo ya Aka Etikili

1984

44

Farm

Yes

42.

Umiisyo wa Aka Sinai

1983

25

Goats

Yes

43.

Kasai ka Miangeni

1985

38

Goats

Yes

44.

Muuo

1984

10

Contributed to buy plot, will build house to let

45.

Nooka Kuweta na Kwita

1984

24

Goats; have built well

Yes

46.

Katulani

1983

33

Goats; farm

Yes

47.

Kyeni kya Mbotela

1983

24

Goats

Yes

48.

Maendeleo na Aka Nooka

1984

24

Goats

Yes

49.

Kumina Ngui Ivingoni

1984

24

Farm

Yes

50.

Mtito-Ndei Women's Group

1983

24

Plot in town

Yes

51.

Muuo wa Wikililye

1984

23

Goats

Yes

52.

Miamba Itano

1984

33

Goats

Yes

53.

Wendo wa Utu

1983

22

Poultry; ploy in town

Yes

54.

Moosoni

1984

33

Goats; farm

Yes

55.

Kamoli ka Ivingoni

1985

25

Goats

Yes

56.

Utu Adult Centre

1983

44

Goats

Yes


Sub total

630


Location: Ngwata

57.

Wendo wa Aka na Ituumo

1983

34

Farm; kiosk

Yes

58.

Muamba wa ACI Mukungula

1984

17

Poultry

Yes

59.

Mukungula

1981

24

Goats

Yes

60.

Wendo wa Aka Mukameni

1984

11

Goats

Yes

61.

Kiange Ushirika

1984

21

Goats

Yes

62.

Uiini

1983

21

Poultry

Yes

63.

Kyeni kya Aka Akuu Ituumo

1983

34

Poultry

Yes

64.

Upendo na Furaha

1983

39

Goats

Yes

65.

Nzaavo Kuweta na Kwika

1983

30

Goats; poultry

Yes

66.

Kyeni kya Utiithi

1985

14

Goats

Yes

67.

Vinya wa Utiithi

1983

22

Poultry

Yes

68.

Kyeni kya Mwaani

1983

14

Poultry

Yes

69.

Mbulutini

1983

25

Goats

Yes

70.

Kithingiisyo kya Masaka Ndogo

1984

25

Goats

Yes

71.

Kyeni kya Mbukuluini

1984

25

Goats

Yes

72.

Wendo wa Kilungu

1984

30

Goats

Yes

73.

Kyambusya Mavati

1984

12

Goats; farm

Yes

74.

Wendo wa Kinyambu

1984

21

Poultry

Yes

75.

Kasakule

1984

35

Poultry

Yes

76.

Kilungu Adult Centre

1983

40

Poultry

Yes

77.

Kithaayoni

1984

21

Farm

Yes

78.

Ivuso ya Aka na Muthungue

1984

31

Farm

Yes

79.

Kyeni kya Ulilinzi

1984

28

Farm

Yes

80.

Kyeni kya Maikuu

1984

20

Farm

Yes

81.

Ngokolano

1984

21

Farm

Yes

82.

A.I.C Nzevemi

1984

24

Goats

Yes

83.

Mumo wa Kyaani

1984

18

Goats

Yes

84.

Maendeleo ma Kalimani

1984

33

Goats

Yes

85.

Kivuthini

1984

23

Goats; cattle

Yes

86.

Kanini Kaseo ka Yitikaa

1983

33

Plot in town

Yes

87.

Ngwata Women Group

1983

33

Plot in town

Yes


Sub total

485