A team to foster and manage beadwork production among women in Turkana through the Ushanga Kenya Initiative has been launched today.

The Ushanga County team will be chaired by the Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro and will include the County Executive Committee Member for Tourism, Chief Officers for Finance and Economic Planning, Gender and Social Services, Trade and Culture as well as two women representatives.

Speaking during a meeting with representatives from the Ushanga Kenya Steering Committee led by the Chairperson Hellen Nkaissery, Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro said Turkana as one of the communities in Kenya that practise beadwork, the expectations are expected to be huge among women.

Through the initiative launched last year, awareness of the exercise will be spread among women with creation of ownership and economic value of beadwork as a craft.

The Deputy Governor said that women will be trained on a diverse beadwork designs to ensure products from Turkana are unique. He said the initiative will be introduced at a small scale then gradually spread to the rest of the county.

“The women need to be trained to produce patterns that are accepted both in the Kenyan and international markets as beadwork is huge potential export industry. Also expand production from ornaments such as the bangles and bracelets to other items such as clothing items, baskets and others,” he said.

To protect women from losing ownership of unique designs, the DG called on mechanisms on ownership of designs through patents.

“The patents will limit conmen from taking advantage of the designs our women create and to ensure that if these designs are recreated elsewhere, a fee is paid to the owner of the design,” he added.

Mrs Nkaissery said the initiative will be implemented through women groups and cooperatives who will be trained on bead artistry, and receive raw materials with support on marketing and sales. She said the initiative had received strong backing from Governors led by Governor Josphat Nanok.

County Secretary Peter Eripete who is a member of the Ushanga Kenya National Steering Committee was present to witness the launch.

Finance and Economic Planning Executive Robert Ereng’ said that better mechanism had to be employed to ensure that County Governments tasked with implementation of the initiative are not overwhelmed with expectations.

In the meeting were County Executives, Charles Lokiyoto (Public Service and Disaster Management), Jennifer Nawoi (Tourism, Culture and Natural Resources), Anthony Apalia (Trade, Youth and Gender Affairs), Director of Tourism Shemmy Ekuwom and host of officers from the Ministry.

Mrs Nkaissery was accompanied by other officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife under which the initiative is based and will target seven counties: Baringo, Kajiado, Marsabit, Narok, Samburu, Turkana and West Pokot.