UK aid helps Monmouth charity to train Ethiopian beekeepers

A Monmouthshire charity is helping to increase the numbers of entrepreneurial Ethiopian beekeepers thanks to UK aid backing.

Bees for Development, based in Monmouth, has been awarded £50,000 from the Department for International Development (DfID) to train and start the new businesses of beekeepers in the Amhara region of Ethiopia.

It is using funding through the Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) to offer vulnerable Ethiopian communities a viable, resilient and environmentally sustainable livelihood selling bee products such as honey and wax.

Thousands of rural families in Ethiopia rely on farming and livestock for their livelihoods. But with shrinking land sizes per household due to population growth, young people are unable to buy land to establish farms of their own and face a future of deepening poverty.

The situation is exacerbated by deforestation and soil erosion – factors which undermine the natural resources base upon which the rural population depends.

Monmouth MP David Davies visited Bees for Development to hear why beekeeping is so uniquely important in countries like Ethiopia, where young people need an income earning opportunity that does not require a lot of land.

“This is a specialist organisation with a niche set of skills which is making a huge difference in some of the world’s financially poorest countries,” said Mr Davies.

“New beekeepers are provided with a bee colony and trained in all aspects of beekeeping, from hive-making to selling honey, in a way that protects the environment.

“The work Bees for Development is carrying out across Ethiopia offers vulnerable families a real chance to improve their lives and earn extra income to buy school uniforms, pay medical costs, buy food and pay-off debts.

“I am pleased DfID has recognised how a small community in Monmouthshire is having such an international impact and I know the funds awarded will go a long way to continue their global reach.”

The Ethiopian project run by Bees for Development was started in 2015 and has trained over 800 young people in the last three years, enabling them to make a substantial part of their living from bees.

It has four principle aims:

  • To deliver beekeeping training to vulnerable communities to build sustainable and resilient livelihoods
  • Help beekeepers secure best value for their bee produce by accessing strong market chains, which are fair and rewarding
  • Ensure that honey bee populations thrive as a result of environmental protection
  • Enable beekeepers to access high quality, relevant information about methods, market opportunities and policy development.

Dr Nicola Bradbear, director of Bees for Development, said: “We are delighted to have the continued support of DfID.

“We know that our work in Ethiopia is helping young people to build resilient livelihoods, as well as building awareness and incentive to ensure that bees and forests are protected”.

All SCCF projects are chosen for their ability to strengthen the capacity of grassroots development organisations working with the most marginalised to ensure that no-one is left behind.

Bees for Development has a shop in Agincourt Street, Monmouth, which stocks a wide-range of local honeys, mead, beeswax candles, natural skin-care cosmetics, bee-related gifts, and beekeeping equipment and supplies.

“The staff who work there are always happy to discuss the charity’s work and I can vouch for the fact the honey is very tasty!” added Mr Davies.

For more information about Bees for Development, visit www.beesfordevelopment.org