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Women in West Pokot benefit from Ushanga training

Sixty women, three from each of the 20 wards in West Pokot, were trained on how they can create employment through bead work, courtesy of the Ushanga Kenya Initiative.

The Ushanga Kenya Initiative is a national initiative that was established in 2017 by the government for job creation and transformation of the living standards of women from pastoral communities through the commercialization of beadwork, which has otherwise been a traditional activity with no significant economic benefits to the communities.

Speaking during the training, West Pokot Deputy Governor Robert Komolle noted that the region has women who are very talented in bead work, and through the training, the women will be in a better position to come up with bead products that will attract the international market and, in the process, sell.

The Deputy Governor (DG) Komolle further stated that the Ushanga program will create employment for women in the region, thus improving their economic benefits and sustainable livelihood standards.

“Training offers the women the opportunity to improve the competitiveness of their bead products in local, regional, and international markets,” Komole said.

He said the region has women who are very talented in beadwork but lack skills. Now they can make beads with good design, technique, and finished products that can attract local, regional, and international markets.

“West Pokot County has women who are very talented in beadwork, and through the Ushanga training initiative, they will change the economy of the region through beadwork products and also sell our culture to other people,” he said.

The deputy governor thanked the ministry of tourism for organizing to train women in the region.

Mr Komolle also thanked the governor for supporting the initiative to engage women in activities that will empower them economically.

Ushanga Kenya Initiative production manager Esther Mwanyama said West Pokot is one of the regions that have been targeted for women to be trained in beadwork because they have been actively participating in making traditional commodities that are admirable by many local markets.

Ms. Mwanyama said they came to the region to train women on the production of advanced beadwork that would attract the international market for an economic boost.

“We have trained them on how to choose colours that are friendly and attractive to buyers so that their products can get to market easily,” she said.

She explained that the women trained will be able to know the choice of colours and designs that will attract the international market.

“We have assured the trained women of the market of their finished beadwork products, but only if they make them as we have trained them,” he noted.

Ms Mwanayama further explained that women were trained on how to make beads on leather, clothes, and other materials and to add value to any other material that beads can be made on.

“We have trained them on making beads on leather, clothes, and other materials and to add value to any other material from which beads can be made.” Ms. Mwanayama explained.

Ms. Mwanyama also said that through the Ushanga Kenya Initiative, the women trained in beadwork will also have a market for their finished products at the local and international levels.

She said through the Ushanga activities they are also advocating against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and women trained will be the ambassadors to the community in creating awareness and sensitisation in the fight against the vice in the community.

She said they have been training women at the county level, but they will also be training at the ward level for all women with talent in beadwork to benefit from the initiative.

She pointed out that they were sent by the government to train women with the aim of empowering them to become financially independent.

Margaret Ngwaratiang, a beneficiary of the Ushanga Kenya Initiative training in the region, notes that the training enabled them to gain skills on how to make good beadwork products and also enabled women from different counties to interact and share how they can improve their livelihoods.

She further said the knowledge they have gained will enable them to educate their children and put food on the table after selling the beads products.

The Ushanga Kenya Initiative partnered with other organizations, including the Red Cross, to offer training to women for a period of five days.

The women also received solar lighting systems to be used by during their beadwork at night without hinderance.

By Anthony Melly and Maurice Osore

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