Income generation in Guinea Conakry (Special Supplement 3)

By Alexandros Yiannopoulos, ACF Spain (ACF-E)

Since the 1990s, Liberia, Sierra Leone and later on the Ivory Coast, have been embroiled in conflict. This has led to a mass exodus of refugees to neighbouring countries, particularly Guinea, which has received 150,000 people. More recently, the political and security situation has improved. At the end of May 2005, there were 2,111 Sierra Leonais, 4,024 Ivoirians and 63,062 Liberians in refugee camps in Guinea Conakry. Even though the security situation was stable, many of the refugees were still reluctant to leave, preferring to wait and see what happens with the elections planned in October 2005.

Income generation activities (IGAs)

ACF-E carries out food security monitoring, agricultural and environmental programmes and IGAs in Guinea. These activities are adapted to the needs of the refugees and the Guinean populations. The IGAs are a complement to the general food distribution, with a view to reducing dependence on the WFP food ration and increasing selfsufficiency. IGAs are highly flexible and can be implemented with very few resources. They target a wide range of social groups, from elderly to single parent families, and in a refugee context, where space and access to natural resources is limited or even prohibited, they provide one of the few sources of income.

The principal livelihoods of the refugees and the Guinean population are either agricultural based or commercial. The IGAs therefore build on the existing knowledge and experiences of the beneficiaries to assist them to start or improve an activity they would not normally be able to carry out due to the lack of resources. IGAs are small-scale activities that are run by groups of five people. Grouping the beneficiaries helps to reduce risk and improve co-operation in the villages. ACF-E has started four types of IGAs:

Implementation

Groups to support were selected based on the following criteria:

The IGAs were started through a one off grant. The amount varied according to the start up cost of the activity. The amount of the grant was discussed in advance with the group members and was based on the material needed to start the activity. Table 8 gives an overview of the different types of IGAs implemented with the Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migration (BPRM) financing between 2004 and 2005. ACF-E provided training and support for the IGAs, which included management methods. However, many of the groups had experience and were able to establish their own systems quickly.

Funds were managed by the treasurer with the co-operation of the group members. Funds were apportioned in three different ways. A weekly contribution of 500 FG (Guinean franc) was put into a central kitty to cover either emergency needs (health) of a member, or as a donation or loan to cover other costs such as education, purchase of clothes or livestock. About one third of the income was used to cover the food needs of the families, while the remainder covered the running costs or expansion of the activity. The proportion of the funds distributed depended on the turnover and profit from the weeks activity and the priorities of the group.

In the well established refugee camps there were large markets both for the refugees and the Guineans. However, the purchase of raw material, goods and manufactured items used in IGAs had to be imported from Kissidougou or other neighbouring markets.

Table 8 Example of IGAs, activities and grant size
Type of activities No of groups No of members Start-up capital (FG*) No of beneficiary families Total grant given (FG*)
Bakery 2 5 270000 10 540000
Forge 1 5 280000 5 280000
Knitting 1 5 221250 5 221250
Pâtisserie 4 5 225625 20 902500
Processing of agricultural produce 1 5 260000 5 902500
Restrants 6 5 270000 30 1620000
Soap making 8 5 260000 40 2080000
Small trade 52 5 280000 260 14560000
Traditional fishing 1 5 100000 5 100000
Total 76     380 205,63,750

*Guinean francs

Results

Visiting the IGAs after the first three months, the teams found all the IGAs running and making a profit. The variation in the profit depended on the initial investment costs and the running costs. Some activities, such as poultry raising and kniting which targeted elderly, provided a small supplementary income, whilst activities such as small trading proved to have a more long term benefit and provide a more regular income. The income was largely used to contribute to basic food needs and reinvested in the activity. A small amount was saved.

Conclusions

A number of strengths and weaknesses of the IGAs were identified:

Producing tools in a forge and milling in Gui, examples of IGAs supported by ACF-E

Strengths

Weaknesses

The IGAs developed during this protracted crisis helped to reduce the dependence of the refugees on the general distribution and improved self-sufficiency. However, there needed to be more support, advice and initial investment in order to promote a longer term approach resulting in sustainable activities.

 

Apiculture as one of the IGAs

The finished product

Honey has an important role in the customs and the diet of rural Guineans. It is used in the preparation of the meals during the month of Karem (Ramadan) and events such as baptism or marriage. On a daily basis it replaces sugar in the preparation of meals and drinks.

It was noted, however, that the traditional methods to extract honey were very inefficient and had a negative impact on environment and forest. To build the hives special trees were cut down. The hives were treated as disposable so that each time the beekeeper wanted to harvest the honey, he would burn the hive to kill the bees and extract the honey. The quality of the honey was poor since it has a burnt taste and has segments of the dead bees.

So ACF-E tried to improve the traditional method of honey production. In the region of Dabola, South East Guinea, there are a number of associations specialised in bee-keeping based on a Kenyan design. ACF-E joined with these associations to train and construct hives for the bee-keepers in Albadariah.

ACF-E provided proper protection equipment (including a mask, a smoker and gloves), an improved Kenyan hive, a honey filter, training on honey production and how to carry this out in a sustainable fashion without killing the bees.

The beneficiaries learnt how extraction is best done during the day and how to move the bees from one hive to another. At the moment, the groups are producing more honey of a higher quality. Before the ACF-E intervention, average production for a hive was between 3 to 4 litres whilst now it is about 25 litres.

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Reference this page

Alexandros Yiannopoulos (2006). Income generation in Guinea Conakry (Special Supplement 3). Supplement 3: From food crisis to fair trade, March 2006. p33. www.ennonline.net/fex/103/5-8-2