The Kunama Ethnic Group
Nine different ethnic groups live in Eritrea. All of them are considered for donkey distribution, as long as they live in the provinces of Gash-Barka or Sahel.
In the province of Gash-Barka, south of Barentu, live the Kunama, the smallest ethnic group in Eritrea. They are of nilotic origin, traditionally belonging to a natural religion. They now live in a muslim environment and are also exposed to comprehensive conversion attempts by the Catholic Church.
The Kunama are organized matrilinearly, so daughters inherit from their mothers instead of sons from their fathers. Women have far more freedom and decision power then women from other ethnic groups.
The Kunama are also the only group in Eritrea not practicing Female Genital Mutilation.
Some half of the Kunama are faithful to their original natural religion, half have already taken up Islam, others are Christians.
Because of the war, but also because of the resettlement policy of the Eritrean government, the Kunama are pulled out of their traditional settlement structures and mixed with other ethnic groups, a process which additionally endangers their culture. Poverty would further accelerate the loss of their own culture and weaken women's status.
It is the NUEW and the Esel-Initiative's common goal to promote the conservation of Kunama culture through donkey distribution.
However, the donkey project does not target a single ethnic group exclusively.
It is a project for suffering single mothers in the countryside, and all ethnic groups that live in
the project regions profit from it.