DOWNLOAD APP: Download JUBAECHO mobile app now available on play store & coming soon to app store.
Anna Mary, a 45-year-old old mother of six, who belongs to one of the cooperative societies.

Cooperative societies transform livelihoods of returnees in Magwi County

Cooperative societies in Magwi County of Eastern Equatoria State are helping thousands of returnees to resettle after having fled past conflicts with nothing on them to neighboring Uganda.
Anna Mary, a 45-year-old old mother of six, who recently returned from Pagirinya refugee camp in northern Uganda, told The Juba Echo last week that being a member of Women for Peace Multi-purpose Cooperative Society helped her to start up a small business that is sustaining her family.Mary sells peas, fresh bananas and maize flour in Magwi town. She got a soft loan from Women for Peace Multi-purpose cooperative society early this year to start up the business.  

“When you return, it means you have to start life anew,” said Mary.

“Cooperative societies are helping many women in Magwi County to save money, which they later on borrow to start businesses,” she added.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) with funding from the Swedish government has provided training opportunities for vulnerable returnees, especially women to acquire skills in agri-business in Magwi County.

However, Mary said that the rising cost of doing business has slowed down her business. She buys food products and fruits expensively from neighboring Obuo, Lobone, Pajok and Palua areas.

“I am selling foodstuff in Magwi market and I am also now farming, when the farming succeeds, I can sell some of the produce to pay school fees, we want the government to resolve the high currency exchange rate, so that the market prices reduce,” she said.

Joska Ariemo,48, who also belongs to Women for Peace Multi-purpose Cooperative Society, said  they are benefiting immensely from the cooperative society.

She said each member of the cooperative society deposits every day 500 South Sudan Pound with the cooperative society. This money is then lent out inform of soft loans to members who refund it with some interest.

“When I returned from Khartoum this year, life here was difficult but we now have to farm,” said the mother of 8 children.

 “We have been supported by UNHCR and we are now doing some small businesses, we get little money for school fees and medical bills,” she disclosed.

Odong Anthony Okeny, the chairman of Can Coya Multipurpose cooperative society.

Betty Aluak, a member of Can Coya Multi-purpose cooperative society, said that she has benefited a lot from the cooperative society, as it has supported her farming business.

 “When we were in a refugee camp, life was very difficult, the food ration was reduced barely after two years but now at least the cooperative society is helping us,” said Aluak.

 Juliette Murekeyisoni, deputy country representative for UNHCR, said that together with partners they have established an initiative known as “Pocket of Hope” which supports returnees in Eastern Equatoria State.

“UNHCR works together with other partners and also with the community to support those spontaneously returning home for three months, just to establish themselves and then they can continue with their life,” said Murekeyisoni.

“The project does not benefit individuals, it benefits the County,” she said.

Odong Anthony Okeny, the chairman of Can Coya Multipurpose cooperative society, praised UNHCR, GIZ and Caritas for building the capacity of the women to be self-reliant.

“We have our farm which is 200 feddan, where we now do farming, we started in 2021, and we have beans and maize and cassava. We get 24 tons of produce in the first season and in the second season we get 29 tons,” said Okeny.

“These women are able to send their children to school, and also to buy medicine to treat their children. When you compare the prices of our produce and the market, our prices are a bit lower because we are helping the community,” he disclosed.

Facebook Comments Box