UNDP empowers market women

Marketers, mainly women, have benefitted cash assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The market women, all of them former bush meat sellers, each received US$100 to enable them start a new trade in the wake of a ban placed on the sale of bush meat by the authorities as part of preventive measures against the Ebola Virus Disease.

Several animals such as monkeys, deer, and bats, among others, are reportedly carriers of the virus.

The marketers are mainly from the Rally Time Market along the UN Drive, which is one of four markets in Monrovia, designated to benefit from the cash transfer assistance.
 
 The other markets are Red-light, Waterside, and Duala. The cash assistance is to help women in this category, find alternative livelihoods in the wake of the ban placed on the sale of bush meat.
 
 According to health authorities, bush meat is one of the major sources for the rapid spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Many of these women lost their source of livelihood and are indebted to suppliers as a result of the ban placed on the commodity by the government.
 
It may be recalled that the Government’s ban is part of efforts to reduce the infection rate of the virus. After being forced to terminate the source of their traditional income, few of these market women have transitioned to alternative livelihoods.

Edith Lasaw, a mother of 3, now sells cold water. With the cash transfer assistance received from UNDP, Edith says she intends to add groundnuts and other commodities to the water.

“Things are hard”, she lamented, and added, “To feed three children in this town (Monrovia) by selling just cold water is not easy…”

Alice Jallibah, 54, is former leader of a group of bush meat sellers at one of the local market areas near Monrovia (Gogba-chop market in Red-light) Paynesville.
 
Receiving the money from UNDP Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at the Rally Time Market, Madam Jallibah herself, a former Bush meat seller, said she lost over LD$638, 950.00 in the bush meat business.

Alice explained that prior to the imposition of the ban on the commodity; she served as a supplier of dried bush meat to marketers in the Red-light, Old Road and Rally Time communities. “I purchased the meat in bulk from vendors in the rural areas and then supplied other market places…” Alice said.
 
 She narrated that the goods are then given out on credit with an agreement to collect the amount due at a specific time. Daily gross sales for these business women range from USD$3.00 to USD$6.00 due to lack of working capital and other factors.

To stabilize household financial situations and provide merchants with some liquidity that can be used as working capital for setting up alternative businesses of their choice, a one-time cash distribution of LD$8,200 (approximately USD $100) is being made available to eligible bush meat merchants by the UNDP. Over 244 market women in this category, have so far benefited from the cash transfer assistance.
 
 Sixty-two (62) and Seventy (70) marketers were served during the first and second phases of the cash transfer assistance. Due to limited budget, the project is being carried out only in Red-light, Waterside, Rally Time and Duala markets in Montserrado County.
 
The Liberian Marketing Association (LMA) conducted a survey of the markets to collect information on those marketers in this line of business. 450 marketers were identified with 430 approved following a thorough screening of the names, to prevent duplication.

By Lewis S. Teh

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