Market day in Mankush
Across Ethiopia, local markets are places where people come to buy and sell goods, share information and socialize. Their importance as places to discuss the latest news, exchange ideas and earn an income cannot be overstated. In the very remote Mankush Town, Guba, in Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region, until recently, there was no local market. Residents of this town had to travel 50 kilometres to sell their goods, an especially prohibitive distance for small-holder farmers.
For the Benishangul-Gumuz Food Security and Economic Growth (BSG-FSEG) Project that CPAR is implementing in partnership with five other NGOs, establishing a market in Mankush was identified as a priority early on. However, such an undertaking is not as easy as it might sound. Picking a site for the market, reaching a consensus on a day that is convenient for the community, determining the requirements for who can sell and what can be sold at a market, forming a committee to manage the market, all of these things take time, coordination and cooperation. CPAR staff members in Guba worked tirelessly together with local government officials and community members to ensure Mankush had its market day.
In early September, on a sunny Saturday, the Mankush market finally opened for business. Members of CPAR’s staff were on hand to witness the fruits of their labour. The market was abuzz with excitement, energy, new life and possibility. People set up stalls selling all types of goods from crops and vegetables such as maize, okra and tomatoes, to coffee and tea, to home cooked snacks, to clothing and pottery. Women, men and young teenagers established stalls and the whole community came out to take a look.
One of the CPAR staff members who helped establish the market spoke of its importance. “Now people have a place to meet and share news. They can exchange market prices and get a fairer price for their goods. They no longer have to pay high transportation costs to travel to the market in Almehal some 50 kilometres away.” He went on to explain the market’s role in building pride within the community. “There are people here who in the past were just sitting at home. They had no sense of what they could do to earn money. But now, they come to the market and sell. There are women selling coffee who weren’t earning anything before.”
Although it took time, the market in Mankush was worth the effort and worth the wait. There are plans to construct permanent stalls to solidify the market’s place in the Mankush but based on the turn out each market day since opening, this market has already made its mark.
The Benishangul Gumuz Food Security and Economic Growth Project (BSG FSEG) (2010 – 2015) supports communities in Ethiopia to diversify food choices, improve agricultural productivity and engage in sustainable income-generating activities. This project aims to improve the food security and economic well-being of vulnerable people and will directly benefit 127,000 individuals in the Benishangul Gumuz Region (BSG). With financial support from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), the project is a unique partnership between the Government of Ethiopia and six NGOs: The Canadian Hunger Foundation, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, Food for the Hungry, the International Network of Bamboo and Rattan, Oxfam Canada, Save the Children Canada and World Vision Canada.