Kataara Women’s Poverty Alleviation Group is making paper from elephant dung

With a $10,000 grant from UNDP, this group of women focused on two activities – construction and promotion of energy saving stoves and eco-tourism. They have constructed 180 energy saving stoves for 180 households of 6 villages of Katara Parish with each village getting 30 stoves. Kataara chose to make fuel-efficient cookstoves to minimize the deforestation and encroachment on the protected area of Queen Elizabeth National Park which neighbours Kataara Parish. “People go collect firewood from the national park and they are shot at, the women get raped there,” said Mr. Moses Agaba, the group’s coordinator.

Image

Kataara Women working on the cookstoves at their workshop in Rubirizi (Photos by Agnes Asiimwe, WWF)

Those using the stoves are happy to have embraced the new method of cooking. “I would use one head load of firewood per week but I now use the same bundle for two weeks,” said Ms. Birungi Mwanje, who adds that she goes around telling neighbours how the stove has reduced her firewood demand by half. Although the community has been slow at appreciating the value of using these stoves, they are taking it up slowly. Kataara has sold 100 stoves within 3 months.  A stove is sold at 10,000shs.

Kataara hopes to make 5,000 stoves for sale by April 2014. From 10,000 shs made from each stove, 3,000 shs goes to the maker of the stove and 7,000 shs goes to the savings and credit scheme of the group. The group lends out this money to members who are given a three months grace period before paying back with 5 percent interest.

Craft Making

The group is also making handicrafts as a business and to conserve natural resources. Kataara collaborates with Queen Elizabeth National Park to promote conservation of the elephant that is facing threats of poisoning as a retaliation against crop raids, by making paper out of elephant dung.

“We make elephant dung paper to show the community that elephants should be conserved because there are people who kill them for meat and ivory,” said Mr. Agaba. “By using elephant dung it adds value to the elephant.” He added,”Elephants always eat our crops so in a way we are compensating ourselves by picking their dung.”

“Elephants always eat our crops so in a way we are compensating
ourselves by picking their dung.”

At first the members collected the dung from their gardens but now the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has allowed them to pick the elephant dung from inside the protected area. From the elephant dung Kataara has made visitors’ books and menus for the neighbouring Kataara and Engazi lodges. They are now making greeting cards, photo frames, handbags and writing pads. Handcrafts are a source of income for the members. The office also doubles as a craft shop with baskets, mats, jewelry, cards  and other items. Members make most of the items individually and take to the shop for sale.

ImageThe women pound elephant dung to make paper

You can get in touch with this group at katarawomens@gmail.com