The contribution of shea to livelihood diversification and wellbeing in Uganda

Start date: 13 January, 2016 End date: 26 March, 2016 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A29265 Countries: Uganda Institutions: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Grant recipient: Astrid Høegh Jensen and Anna Elisabeth Gjøderum Gade Total grant: 30,000 DKK



Natural beauty products are experiencing an increasing global demand from ethic
and environmentally conscious consumers, with high growth rates attached.
99.8% of the global shea trade origins in West Africa, but due to the improving
security situation in northern Uganda after 20 years of conflict, a new market is
emerging with natural high-quality butter from the East African nilotica shea tree.
The majority of shea from West Africa are used as refined cocoa butter equivalent
sold at a low price. Due to different chemical properties, the nilotica shea butter is
better suited for natural cosmetics, where end-consumers demands high quality,
unrefined shea butter, and they are willing to pay a premium price. However, the
shea nuts collected by local women are currently fully utilised and traded at local
markets in northern Uganda. Shea's locale role as a Non-Timber Forest Product
provides the local communities with crucial income, both in the form of cash and
as a source of nutrition for their largely subsistence-based livelihoods. This thesis
discusses future projections on impacts of the increased global commercialisation
of nilotica shea, based on the current role of shea, as well as outcomes of NTFPs
commercialisation in different contexts. Investigated indicators of impacts are
livelihood strategies, gender relations and wellbeing within a sustainable
livelihood approach framework. Most research on shea has been done in West
Africa, and gaps in the literature covering these aspects in Uganda exist. This
research is based on a case study conducted in four districts in northern Uganda,
where a mixed methods approach using qualitative and quantitative methods
were applied through 16 focus groups, 419 questionnaire survey submissions and
10 interviews. The outcome of an increased commercialisation depends on a set
of factors, including level of inclusiveness in the shea value chain for the local
collectors, quality improvements, and protection of the shea tree resource.
Increased commercialisation of shea in northern Uganda will most likely not
work as a direct poverty alleviation strategy, but can contribute to a
diversification of livelihoods and an increase in the local communities' wellbeing.