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From the ground up: How a new market brings new prospects to a border town

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 In the northwestern part of Tanzania near the Burundi border the Muhange and Muhange Juu villagers have been trading with each other since before their countries independence Today semi formal and informal cross border trade remains a notable feature of African economic and social landscapes Over the years a makeshift open air market has sprung up on the hellip
From the ground up: How a new market brings new prospects to a border town

NNN: In the northwestern part of Tanzania, near the Burundi border, the Muhange and Muhange Juu villagers have been trading with each other since before their countries’ independence. Today, semi-formal and informal cross-border trade remains a notable feature of African economic and social landscapes.

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Over the years, a makeshift open-air market has sprung up on the Muhange border, where small traders from both countries sell a variety of food and household items.

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Yolanda Lusio is a small trader who sells tomatoes and rice at the makeshift market. Like most villagers, news of the construction of a modern UNCDF-funded market complex in Muhange has her aglow with anticipation.

Yolanda said, “I’m excited to work on the new market as the old one was very challenging. We put our produce on the ground to sell, which is not a hygienic thing to do with food. When it rained the old market closed. because the makeshift cane tents couldn’t withstand the downpour. Every time it rained, it meant a loss of income for women like me.”

UNCDF together with the Kakonko District Council have built a new cross-border market that accommodates approximately 3,000 traders, farmers, livestock keepers and service providers generating a positive socio-economic impact in the Kakonko District Council (Tanzania), the Cancunzo province (Burundi) and beyond. The new market includes purpose-built commercial sheds, water supply storage and toilet facilities, and other key infrastructure that the open-air market lacks.

The vast majority of traders in the Muhange cross-border market are women, as they are exposed to a number of gender-specific challenges and risks that threaten the personal safety and health of their children.

“First of all, for those of us with young children, having an enclosed, designated space to sell has improved the care of our children. In the old market, we used to sell on unhygienic flooring and our children were exposed to all kinds of germs. while we work. Also, since the old market was informal, there were times when men would come and take our goods or space, and we couldn’t really do anything about it but complain to each other.”

At least 60% of UNCDF-funded stalls/shops have been allocated to women entrepreneurs and will be allocated shares. With stable streams of income from their businesses and better working conditions, Muhange women traders can now expect to focus on highly productive economic activities.

Income derived from small-scale business activities is key to poverty reduction with a positive impact on long-term development outcomes. The Muhange Cross-Border Market project is an excellent example of how border communities can benefit and enjoy comparative locational advantages. The benefits of trading across borders include better food security, faster job creation, poverty reduction, higher tax revenues for authorities, and better long-term development outcomes. In addition, district councils and village authorities were previously unable to collect a significant amount of market fees and levies, however, the new facilities make it easier for them to collect revenue.

The surrounding town of Muhange is already seeing the multiplier effects of the market, with villagers building restaurants, accommodation facilities, mobile money kiosks, storefronts and corn-grinding stations in anticipation of the new market’s boom.

Yolanda says this is just the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey with promising prospects on the horizon in the new market: “With the extra money I get from the new market, I am saving to provide lunch for the people who work here. we all have the opportunity to improve and have additional sources of income thanks to the increasing number of people coming to the market now from more villages in Burundi and Tanzania. Life is good!”

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