Fresh water crawfish have always been close to my heart having lived in south Louisiana for several decades before coming to Swaziland (Eswatini now). So, finding them here was a special treat even if they were introduced and considered an invasive species.
For several years we struggled to develop a market for the crawfish we’d buy from people who would catch them in the dams, irrigation canals and ponds in the lowveld. But we finally found a consistent market (albeit still small) through a local start up restaurant and fresh/local food delivery.
We found one woman for whom selling the crawfish has had a tremendous impact on her and her family. While we are not her only buyer, we are by far the largest for the crawfish.
Phindile is 42 and makes her living by selling fish to various local small shops and crawfish to Kudvumisa Foundation and anyone else she can. The money she makes helps take care of her child, an elderly mom (71) and her disabled sister.
Selling crawfish in volume to Kudvumisa Foundation helps put food on her table and pay the rent for her modest house.
(and about them being an invasive species, we’re doing our best to reduce the population while both providing income and also a source of protein )
A dedicated area for the economic development projects and community training was completed as part of Kudvumisa Foundation's Clinic complex. The area was reclaimed from an open warehouse section of the clinic building. Once a home to bats, the area now is finished out and houses the marula nut oil press and the freezers and tanks for the crawfish.
It is expansive enough to host community trainings as well. In December a WASH (water sanitation & hygiene) training for the Maphiveni community was held. Over 30 homesteads were represented at the training.
The enclosed area will be used to further expand economic and training oppoprtunities for our surrounding communities still struggling witrh poverty and isolation.
Families continue to crack marula nuts to sell the kernals to Kudvumisa Foundaiton for money for essentials. Kudvumisa Foundation has begun searching for external markets for the oil we press from the marula kernals. As we are able to find markets for the oil, the volumes we can sell increases. This allows us to expand the number of communities we can buy the kernals from, empowering even more families.
As Covid lockdowns and even civil unrest have upset the "normal" economy, those that are already impoverished and isolated have an even harder time surviving. Being able to sell the wild and locally harvested marula nuts provides a sometimes critical cash income to help with food and other essentials.
As we purchase higher quantities of the marula kernals, we will be purchasing a second manual oil press, designed and built here in Eswatini. This should be a higher efficiency press, increasing the percentage of the oil we can extract form the kernals.
Maria, a volunteer trains on the electric machines
Covid lockdowns were more than an inconvenience for many that we work with here in eSwatini. One project we champion was hit especially hard. We have worked with a group of women who live in an informal settlement in northern Lubombo for almost ten years now. A sewing project was started where the ladies in the group received training to be able to make products that could be sold in a local shop that catered to higher end patrons and tourists and was exported to the US and sold there.
Making the products, these women gained a sense of dignity and independence from the sometimes appalling circumstances of where they lived. The income gave them the ability to make choices about their lives and families they never could have otherwise.
Covid changed all that. Border closures, grounded flights, total lockdowns all contributed to a complete collapse of the markets they typically would have sold to. They are survivors though.
Since the beginning of this year, we’ve restarted the project as we anticipate a post-covid return to some type of normalcy. We’ve been able to add two electric machines for two ladies to use at our facility. So some work is still done on their hand crank machines, but finishing is done on the electric machines.
Kudvumisa Foundation strives to empower the surrounding communities to participate in economic development projects that will empower them to take control of their circumstances and lives. For several years, we have encouraged local participation in trapping Australian Redclaw Crawfish for resale into a local market. We buy live crawfish from local community members who catch them from the surrounding dams and waterway. We cook them and freeze them for resale.
Every emalangeni ($) we are able to put back into the community is an opportunity for people to take back control of their lives. To choose for themselves their priorities for schooling, health care, food etc.
Join us in empowering an impoverished, isolated and marginalized community by creating the space for community and economic development in Maphiveni and the surrounding communities.
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