Shea Integrated Global Foundation has intensified efforts to empower grassroots women in shea butter production in Nassarawa state.
Speaking to journalists during a workshop in Abuja, Priscilla Akpason Nwoso, co-founder of Shea Integrated Global Foundation stated that the project was birthed out of the need to empower the women as well as expose them to the financial benefits imbedded in the processing of shea trees.
According to her, the project titled “Conservation and Livelihood Improvement of Women through Shea Tree value-chain Development’, is creating market opportunities for Nigerian women to thrive. The project is not aimed only at empowering women in shea butter production to improve their livelihood but also to conserve the environment where the trees are planted.
“We thought women would be at the forefront of it because they are the ones who normally will do shea production. So we thought to, focus on that group and in doing this project, we’ve been able to impact over 200 homes by giving them alternative paths such as cooking gas, and all this was made possible by the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP).
“In doing this project, we’ve been able to impact over 200 homes by giving them alternative paths such as cooking gas, and all this was made possible by GEF SGP. This came about because we wanted to impact lives.
Speaking further, Nwosu said that the foundation is expanding its activities, partnering with other companies to promote beekeeping.
“That’s another addition for the women. And so we feel that this is a new phase, attracting funds through sponsorship will be of great value. Because we want this community to sustain itself so that we can move to the next community. And to do that we need more funding.
“Funding is the challenge because, without sponsorship, we will not be able to move to the next community to effect the same project in that community and impact those women, the community and the environment.
“Currently, our project is in Nassarawa state, but like I said, with the right funding and right sponsorship, we can go to as many communities as need be. Because Nigerian communities have a lot of things that I know that if harnessed properly, the village and that community can take care of itself with the local commerce, with enough jobs in those communities,” she said.
For Ibironke Olubamise, the National Coordinator for the GEF-SGP, there was a need to promote sustainable environmental management, to minimise the impact of activities on the land.
According to her, “That is the reason why we have to be very careful, because if you’re cutting down one tree, you’d never know what other things are being affected you may not even know it until the years down the line.
“So to this project, people may be affected by the cutting down of shea trees and then cutting down of shea trees is affecting the environment, affecting the bees, affecting the livelihood of the women that are harnessing the shea nuts that they use to produce the shea butter.
“What we do is to support community environmental initiatives anywhere. We all know what is happening to the environment. The GEF funds environmental projects all over the world, especially in developing countries.
“The idea is that communities are the first culprits and as well as the first victims of environmental degradation, and so they also have a part to play in the global effort for environmental management. So we support any environmental initiative but of course, we also emphasize livelihood because you cannot tell the communities to stop cutting the trees where you don’t provide alternative for them,” she said.