"Women are highly vulnerable in Gambella. Empowering them will reduce their vulnerability..."

The Gender - and Environment-Responsive Beekeeping (G&EB) project, implemented by SNV Ethiopia in collaboration with ANCEDA, Agriservice Ethiopia and VoCDA – has been applauded for its achievements in developing women's entrepreneurship in apiculture.

Recognition for this project came at the Consultative Meeting on Gender Mainstreaming and Action Planning held on January 27, 2014 at SNV Ethiopia offices in Addis Ababa. The meeting brought together the project's implementing partners and project staff to review implementation and discuss the Gender Mainstreaming tool.

During the meeting, Dekebo Dale, Director of Arsi Nature Conservation & Environmental Development Association (ANCEDA), expressed his delight with the project’s increasing success in promoting female entrepreneurship.

"Women’s engagement in beekeeping in the Central Rift Valley is almost non-existent. This made the task of convincing the women of the important role that they could play in beekeeping difficult. Once they had attended the basic beekeeping training, they were amazed by their own potential. Now we are starting to see a lot of promise in the women trainees."

The G&EB project is a component of the larger Sustainable Development of the Gambella and Rift valley Landscapes Programme Phase II, which is implemented by the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network (HoA–REC/N) with funding from the Kingdom of The Netherlands. By ensuring the mainstreaming of gender and environmental considerations in the honey value chain, this project aims to boost productivity, diversify production, and improve the quality of bee products and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

Choosing the Central Rift Valley Gambella Regions as the project's target coverage area was deliberate. The Gambella region has immense apiculture potential with an estimated yearly production potential of 225.2 tonnes of honey and 59,222 bee colonies. This potential, however, goes unmet considering that 99% of the existing regional beekeeping practices rely on hunting honey from wild bee colonies. 

"Women are highly vulnerable in Gambella. Empowering them will reduce their vulnerability. We are aware that expectations are high, but we have so far succeeded in increasing the number of women beneficiaries to 31%," said Eyob Kassa, the Programme Director at Agriservice in Gambella.

Facilitating the increased engagement of both men and women in the apiculture subsector is one of SNV Ethiopia's key roles in this project. To this end, SNV Ethiopia has developed a gender mainstreaming tool, which according to Genzeb Akele, SNV Ethiopia's Agriculture Sector Leader, is believed to accelerate women's engagement in the sector. Participants at the meeting tested and discussed this tool.

Female entrepreneurs are creating a buzz in Ethiopia