Migrant women in Namibia mow fodder to keep afloat

It was a Friday morning and the sun was at its peak.

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Elina Eelu had just returned from a 16 km walking distance deep in the bushy Brakwater location on the outskirts of Windhoek where she mows grass for fodder.

She sells the fodder along Namibia’s main B1 road in Windhoek.

“It’s mowing day,” said Eelu, pointing to three piles of fodder at a makeshift stall made out of secondhand plastic bags. From here, Elina Eelu is joined by other women who are tired and sweating from the long walk.

“I sell animal feed to farmers from here,” she told Xinhua.

Eelu is a rural-urban migrant who moved to Windhoek in early 2000 hoping for better income generating opportunities to improve her socio-economic condition. With no formal qualifications, life in the city has not been the escape she had hoped for, as job opportunities have become rare.

To keep afloat, ten years ago, she resorted to selling animal feed to farmers.

“I couldn’t find a job. I saw a market, seized the opportunity and decided to venture into this trade — I decided to cut grass and sell animal feed to farmers,” she said.

“On a good day, I can make up to 300 Namibian dollars (21 U.S. dollars), just enough to live by,” she said.

Eelu is not alone. She is joined by fellow women residing in Havana informal settlement on the outskirts of Namibian capital.

Of the 325,858 people living in Windhoek, over 110,000 are living in informal settlements, according to recent records by Namibia Statistics Agency.

“We walk long distances from Havana to here to make a living from selling animal feed,” she said.

Selma Haufiku too has been selling fodder along Namibia’s main B1 Road. A rural-urban migrant, selling fodder is the only income generating venture she ever engaged in.

In spite of the trade provides just enough income to live by, challenges still persist.

Eelu remembers too well the days and seasons when she could not sell any of her products.

“A month can go by without selling any animal feed. Not only is that, we cannot increase prices due to desperation to earn an income to buy basic household goods,hence the income has been the same during this period,” Eelu lamented.

“Furthermore, people steal our products and thieves also hijack us on our way home,” Haufiku added. “Poverty and hunger continue to haunt our households, but we will not give up.”

“We will continue selling animal feed to weather the storm of abject poverty,” said Eelu.

In the interim, in efforts to boost their income, the traders has since diversified and also ventured into selling firewood. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/News Ghana

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