Woman joins scent wood cooperative to support family

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When Darmi Satu’s husband left her and their six children without the means to support themselves, she joined an initiative to generate income from scent wood.

25.04.2014 | SOS Sahel and Belete Debre

The 45-year-old from Yabello Cholksa Pastoralist Association, in the south of Ethiopia admits that when her husband first left for Kenya seeking what she describes as a ‘better life’ she would ‘just wait for him to come back, but this attitude soon changed.’

“In our culture, women believe that life without the economic support of husbands is difficult,” Darmi explains.

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) partner organisation SOS Sahel supports 182 pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in Borena of which 83 are women. In 2009, SOS Sahel established the Urga Ladhana Women Scent Wood Cooperative with 15 female members and Darmi as the chairperson. Darmi attended training on leadership skills and cooperative management for five days. She and 14 other members of the cooperative received training on packaging and storing of scent wood products, which is wood and barked used to create good smell, especially during coffee ceremonies. The Cooperative also received help to link up with the markets.

“The training inspired and encouraged me and boosted my confidence in interacting with the community,” Darmi says.

SOS Sahel also provided the cooperative with two 5000 litre plastic tanks and constructed an office, a shop and a processing centre for the scent wood production. The cooperative also received 85,000.00 ETB as seed money from SOS Sahel.

“The benefit of the project was not limited to economic values, but also uplifted my social status in the community,” says Darmi.

She says that she and the 14 other women used to carry the scent wood they collected on their backs for long distances, but that SOS Sahel provided them with two donkeys and a donkey cart to transport the material. The seed money she received from the cooperative enabled her to increase her income.