Co-op solidarity from Chelmsford to Lesotho
An Essex co-operative society is putting the co-operative values of self-help, solidarity and co-operation among co-operatives into action by empowering a community in Lesotho, southern Africa, through co-operation.
A new three-year project, financed by the Chelmsford Star Co-operative Society Ltd and managed by the UK’s Co-operative College, will establish and develop an agricultural co-operative in Masemouse, Lesotho, to help alleviate poverty and achieve sustainability in the community. At the same time as generating income and contributing to food security to create a lasting legacy in Lesotho, it is hoped that the project will enrich and inspire Chelmsford Star’s members in the UK.
Chelmsford Star is also working with UK-based organisation Connecting Communities Worldwide on the project, which started as a way of celebrating the UN’s International Year of Co-operatives. Plans for Masemouse include growing fruit and trees, producing honey and constructing two fish ponds to produce edible fish and marketable fingerlings.
The recently-established Thabelang-Sechaba Co-operative, which currently has 78 members and an elected board, will carry out the work in Lesotho. Members including a talented forester with experience in fruit growing, an accomplished administrator and a community activist. The Lesotho Department of Co-operatives will provide training for the members of the new co-operative in co-operative working, management and production.
Chelmsford Star Chief Executive Officer Tony Gudgeon said: “Chelmsford Star is both honoured and privileged to work in partnership with the Co-operative College and Connecting Communities Worldwide in Lesotho.
“We wanted a lasting legacy to 2012, the International Year of Co-operatives and believe that an international project (our first) was entirely appropriate.
“It is our hope that the project demonstrates the power of co-operation in bringing transformational change to the community, and that it creates employment and empowerment in the community.”
Ken Dunn, Executive Director of Connecting Communities Worldwide, said: “The Chelmsford-Lesotho co-operative partnership is a fantastic opportunity to unite peoples 6,000 miles apart but tied by a common ethos.
“A sustainable agricultural co-operative will transform the lives of community members living Masemouse, Lesotho, in this beautiful but challenged mountain kingdom which is surrounded by The Republic of South Africa.”
Linda Shaw, Vice Principal – Research & International at the Co-operative College, added: “This project is building on the Co-operative College’s long-standing links with Lesotho, which include organising the annual youth and co-operatives forum. Lesotho is one of the smallest countries in the world, and we are delighted that another co-operative society is contributing to a co-operative development project which will help improve the co-operative infrastructure in one of Africa’s poorest countries.”
Published On: August 1, 2012
Written By: Natalie
Filed Under: Co-operatives Globally