Monday, October 19th, 2020 | By

When COVID-19 associated national lockdown began in March 2020, Norah Ninsiima,45, a tailor and a businesswoman dealing in clothes in Buseruka trading centre in Buseruka sub county in Hoima district did not see it coming. She was not adequately prepared in terms of food security and savings that would enable her and 6 children negotiate and survive through the severe challenges brought by the lockdown.

Ms.Ninsiima says when the businesses were ordered to close, she too closed her business yet it was her major source of income.

      “I would sell my clothes and buy food, pay house rent and also take care of my necessities. But when the lockdown started, it heavily affected me. I was not prepared in terms of food and savings. I had just paid school fees and was broke. I almost failed to feed my family; I depended on my neighbours for food since they are farmers,” Ninsiima narrated.

Ms.Ninsiima is among 50 rural women from Hoima district who benefited from a training on how women can engage in beekeeping and kitchen gardening for sustainable alternative livelihoods which was organised by National Association of Professional Environmentalists(NAPE) in Hoima from Monday 11th to 14th October.

The women were engaged in practical training on how to grow vegetables in sacks, jerry cans and bottles and maintain small vegetable gardens within their homesteads. They were also taken through the process of beekeeping and visited apiaries so that they can replicate and get alternative livelihoods.

Deborah Nakalanzi, an experienced Ktichen Gardening trainer from Kulika Uganda and an urban farmer from Wakiso district encouraged women to embrace kitchen gardening since its affordable and has sustainable income.

“My kitchen garden in my backyard was very helpful during the lockdown. I grow cabbages, spinach, pumpkin, coriander, green pepper, carrots, different food spices, onions, garlic and many other types of vegetables in my yard. I used to feed my family and also sell from home. This saved visits to the markets during the lockdown and also saved me from spending money,” she said while demonstrating to women how they grow vegetables in sacks.

“Kitchen gardening has potential to help women earn a sustainable living; giving them social and economic empowerment. Despite the mobility restrictions, there was no need for me to go to the markets because everything was in my compound and backyard. And the nutrition of my family was not affected by low incomes during the lockdown,” she added.

Jesca Buteeraba,50, an experienced beekeeper from Butimba village in Kizirafumbi sub county, Kikuube district says beekeeping is a promising alternative livelihood that enhances household food security and women’s income. She said it is a good venture for women since it does not take a lot of time and can therefore be taken as an alternative livelihood.

“The lockdown began during harvesting season when I was extracting my honey. I kept selling as usual because my honey is always on order. It is on high demand, people within my community buy it off before I look for outside market. Therefore, my income was not anywhere connected, said Buteeraba as she toured women through her apiary which is about 1km from her home.

Sostine Namanya, the Gender and Food Security Officer at NAPE said the impact of COVID-19 pandemic measures to curb the spread have disproportionately impacted on the livelihoods, health and wellbeing of women.

She says it is important to engage and train women in sustainable livelihoods so that they cannot be affected in future.

Sostine said NAPE will continue to train women so that they actively engage in beekeeping and kitchen gardening as alternative livelihood. She said those who have been trained will be followed up and supported.