The people

In Ure e Shtrentje, Oxfam GB successfully launched a bee-keeping and honey-making cooperative, which has significantly improved people's lives. The project was originally intended as an opportunity for women to contribute to the family budget, thereby gaining the respect of the family, while still having time to do the necessary chores in the house and around the farm. Unlike other livestock, a flock of bees does not require constant attention throughout the day.

Soon, however, the men of the community started to take a keen interest in the activities and asked to join in, so that now everyone is involved in the project. In December 2003, the villagers formed a cooperative, to better manage their products and finances, and, given the initial success of the project, in 2004 Oxfam donated another 100 beehives.

At first the honey produced was only sufficient to keep the bees alive during the winter, and for the families' own consumption - only 10kg were produced in the first year. But the scheme has proved very successful, allowing the villagers to start off new beehives, and now the honey is being sold as well: last year 1.3 tonnes of honey were produced! The profit from the honey is shared between the individual families and the community as a whole.

The families earn about $100 a year from the honey, which is used to buy essential things such as shoes, schoolbooks, and medicines. The members of the cooperative and the village council decide together on how to best spend the rest of the money. Some is reinvested for the next year's production, which is an important step as it means the cooperative is becoming self-sufficient and not so dependent on Oxfam funding. Some is used for repairs and improvements in the village. For example, cement was bought to repair leaky irrigation channels. Better irrigation leads to better harvest: more corn, onions, fruit, and potatoes (which need a lot of water), all of which can be sold at the market. Slowly but surely, thanks to Oxfam's intervention, the community is starting to stand on its own feet.

missing bridge

Meet the villagers...
Isuf, the head of the cooperative
Hajrie, one of the first women to be
involved in the project
Ahmet's family, where beekeeping
spans across generations
Murat and his children

Photo above: Some of our friends in Ure e Shtrentje. From left to right: Isa; Mine, the village nurse; Murat, one of the key members of the beekeeping community; Alban, from Shkodra, who provides the training and expertise