How beekeeping turns around lives in Kilombero

WHILE some people infected with HIV /AIDS tend to lose hope and stay stressed. People from Idete Ward in Kilombero District, Morogoro Region are rather different as they have come together and put up an income-generating project.

The residents are proud of a beekeeping project that is doing fine in a forest near the Kilombero Nature Forest Reserve (KNFR), under a group dubbed Kiwavikai that is comprised of 21 members that are HIV + and openly speak about their condition and lead their lives.

Kiwavikai Chairman, Mr David Mkumba unveils that with eight men among the members, they initiated the project with support of the Eastern Arc Mountain Endowment Fund (EAMCEF), for several reasons, one being their economic wellbeing.

Mr Mkumba says with 28 modern beehives from 2011 they now get an average of 100 litres of honey per season, selling part of it and keeping some for their own use, as it is both food and medication to different illnesses.

“Kiwavikai is an economic- generating group that was formed by 21 people in 2011. After knowing that we were HIV + we called one another and say it was not the end of life but rather a new beginning.

So we proposed this project and happily we were supported by EAMCEF and by then we were five people others came on joining us,” says Mr Mkumba cheerfully.

The chairman says last season they generated 800,000/- after selling honey. They use the money to meet different individual needs. He unveils that they were provided with the beehives and necessary gears for harvesting by EAMCEF.

Another member, Ms Amina Mpunjae, said the project has greatly helped conserve the forest that is an important source of rain and water. They have since asked for more beehives.

Ms Zaituni L ukila thanks EAMCEF for the support, adding that more people want to join them. EAMCEF Projects Officer, Ms Rosemary Boniface said her organization saw it vital to support groups such as those with HIV , women and the youth so that they earn income, as they are most hit by climate change.

She promised more beehives and support so that in future they will be packaging the honey before selling it. KNFR was formed by amalgamating three former forest reserves of Matundu, Iyondo and part of West Kilombero Scarp under Tanzania Forests Services (TFS).

The reserve is surrounded by 21 villages, having a total population of 78,784.

In upland areas, the vegetation comprises moist and dry montane, upper montane forest with some patches of bamboo and upland grassland. In the drier, lower-lying areas, there is lowland forest, some of which has been replaced by woodland and grassland.

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Author: DEUS NGOWI in Kilombero

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