Restoring their Hope for Sustainability: Rural Women Disbursed L$381,810 from VSLA

FAO-supported beneficiaries, “Koyeah Women Cooperative” in Senlay, Nimba County rejoice during the disbursement of their VSLA fundsFAO-supported beneficiaries, “Koyeah Women Cooperative” in Senlay, Nimba County rejoice during the disbursement of their VSLA funds

Monrovia-The Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in Liberia in 2014/15 affected food production and major agriculture activities. Farmers could no longer work in groups on their farms because of fear of body contacts. As a result, savings of women got depleted.

To mitigate the effects of the situation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) received funding from the Swiss Agency for International Development and Cooperation (SDC) and swiftly moved in together with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP).

The decision by FAO and the Government of Liberia was intended to provide the needed support to women associations in restoring their Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) as well as increase food production.

In Bong, Lofa, and Nimba Counties where the project was implemented, 200 female farmer groups numbering 6,000 beneficiaries received training in improved lowland development, vegetable production, and village savings and loan management.

Koyeah Women Cooperative, with a membership of 26 rural women including four men organized in Senlay, Nimba County, is supported by the SDC-funded project. The women disbursed L$381,810 from the VSLA. This amount (L$381,810), was generated out of the US$1,000 provided by FAO in February 2016 as cash injection into the VSLA.

Madam Jestina Mywurue, Chairlady, took the stage during the program and raised a song in their local Dan vernacular, as a sign of appreciating God; “What we are getting today is God who provided it, anything we do is in God’s name,”

“We are indeed grateful for our first disbursement “cycle-one, it was FAO who came and introduced this VSLA and provided US$1,000. Besides the cash, they also provided rice mill and de-stoner for the lowland rice production. We were also trained in VSLA and lowland development.”

Madam Mywrue said the VSLA training has improved the members’ business management skills. “Since the group was established, we were only involved in agriculture production; the VSLA has increased our income,” she added.

Comfort Boah received L$19,000 from her 15 shares (1,000 per share) through the VSLA: “I am receiving L$19,000 in total, (15,000 cash save and 4, 000 interest generated).”

Madam Boah caters to eleven children from the proceeds she receives from the agriculture production and the VSLA. “This project has helped my family a lot, presently, I have eleven children in school, since I joined the group two years now things have improved greatly.”

In acknowledgment of the achievements, she lauded the efforts of FAO and the Government of Liberia for the opportunity provided them and further called for extension of such rewarding venture to women in other parts of the country to help their families.

Speaking on behalf of the FAO Representative in Liberia, FAO Programme Interim Support, Mr. Jesse Yuan re-affirmed FAO commitment in providing continued support to the Government of Liberia to improve food security in the county.

He assured the farmers: “As you have started this journey, I would like to assure you that FAO will continue to support your efforts. Whatever assistance you need to improve your production, we will support such initiative.”

Mr. Yuan also commended the community leadership for providing the needed support to the women who have decided to lift the community out of poverty.