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In Ethiopia, the prevailing threat of deforestation poses significant environmental and socio-economic challenges. According to Global Forest Watch, the country has witnessed a 98% decline in forest cover over the past decades, correlating with notable carbon emissions and ecological impacts (2). Concurrently, economic disparities are prevalent among rural women, who constitute approximately 80% of the agricultural workforce (1).
In response, the Qayya Initiative was established, focusing on both environmental restoration and socio-economic upliftment through sustainable incense production. Key tenets of the initiative encompass sourcing incense from wild trees, rather than cultivated counterparts. This method aligns with preserving native ecosystems and emphasizes quality-driven, environmentally-responsible production.
Notably, the Qayya Initiative has facilitated training for 150 women in sustainable incense production, leading to measurable socio-economic and environmental outcomes. There has been a reported 50% reduction in deforestation within the initiative's operational areas, significantly mitigating ecological degradation (2). On the economic front, participating women have experienced an average income increase of 20%, indicating the initiative's effectiveness in driving economic empowerment.
Looking ahead, the Qayya Initiative aims to broaden its scope. An investment of $20,000 is sought to fund the establishment of a dedicated training and workshop facility, intended to further the initiative's training efforts and overall reach. The overarching goal encompasses the engagement and empowerment of 1,000 rural women over the next two years, anchoring the initiative's role in sustainable incense production and socio-economic development.
In conclusion, the Qayya Initiative presents an integrated approach to addressing environmental degradation and socio-economic challenges in rural Ethiopia. By marrying sustainability with empowerment, the initiative offers a structured path forward in addressing deforestation and promoting gender equality within the incense production sector.
(1) Bishaw, B. (2020) ‘Deforestation and land degradation in the Ethiopian Highlands: A strategy for physical recovery’, Northeast African Studies, 8(1), pp. 7–25. doi:10.1353/nas.2005.0014.
(2) Global Forest Watch. (2023). Ethiopia deforestation rates & statistics: GFW. Global Forest Watch. https://www.globalforestwatch.org/dashboards/country/ETH/?category=summary&location