Improving the livelihood of rural women farmers through gender-responsive Innovative solutions based on Climate Smart Agriculture

Resilient African Network (RAN) and Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) under the Climate Change Agriculture Food Security project have taken lead in ensuring that innovative solutions based on climate-smart agriculture are made gender responsive and reach the women farmers in the rural areas of Apac, Lira, Kole, and Oyam. CCAFS is a research initiative seeking to overcome the threats to agriculture and food security in a changing climate. CCAFS invests in research to address the crucial trade-offs between climate change, agriculture, and food security and works to promote more adaptable and resilient agriculture and food systems in five focus regions: South Asia, Southeast Asia, West Africa, East Africa, and Latin America.

A key contribution that WOUGNET and RAN intend to make is to generate evidence-based gender-responsive innovations refined to address the real local social, economic, and environmental conditions in Uganda with both men and women farmers taking lead in utilizing the local innovations to transform social attitudes and perceptions about irrigation as a means to increase crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa, enable regular growth of mushrooms throughout the year unlike in the past when cotton seed-hulls were scarce and to improve farmers’ access to extension services as well as their (extension services) efficiency and effectiveness. Many innovations today are targeting commercial pathways for scaling and more work is needed to address the range of barriers that currently hinder women’s equitable participation in the private sector in many countries the urgent strategy to scale innovations is to better think about finances to support women as a pathway for gender equitable change, (IDIA 2018).

The purpose of engaging women farmers in the study was to assess the gender responsiveness of the three RAN innovations which include M-Omulimisa, Low-cost solar irrigation pump, and mushroom for mushrooming livelihoods. According to FAO (2016), the CSA model is an approach that seeks practical and better ways of supporting Countries in securing the necessary policies as well as technical and financial conditions to enable an increase in agricultural productivity and incomes, build resilience and capacity of the agriculture food system to adapt to climate change and forge ways of eliminating the emission of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere while gender responsiveness in the perspective of world bank means that the particular needs, priorities, and realities of men and women are recognized and adequately addressed in the design and application of CSA so that both men and women can equally benefit (World Bank, FAO  and IFAD, 2015).

Among the key issues that necessitated the adoption of the model was the realization that youth and women have varying degrees of vulnerability to shocks compared to those of men for many reasons including dependence on natural resources for livelihoods, responsibility for food production, water and fuel for their household, greater limited assets gaps, social and political barriers.

The CSA approach according to the world bank 2017 survey indicates increasing risk to the agricultural sector and food security affecting poor men and women who live in rural areas and depend on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries for livelihoods.  This means that gender gaps in agriculture would put both men and women farmers at different levels when it comes to the agency of opportunities, institutional structures, access to and control of resources, technology/practices, and innovation and services, they need to respond to climate change.

According to the 2030 SDG 5 target 5, the ideal objective is to ensure that all reforms are undertaken to give women equal rights to economic resources as well as access to and ownership and control of land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance, and natural resources in accordance with the laws.

These are some of the gender issues that necessitated WOUGNET and RAN to flag off a research finding to assess how men and women would access, own, and use these agricultural innovations, participate in decision-making in regards to buying, ownership, and usage to better their livelihood and respond to the modern-day unpredictable weather changes.

According to Betty Jokene, the district agriculture officer of Apac district during the co-creation workshop that took place on 9th January 2019, “in the agricultural, 68 percent are still under subsistence and   it’s our duty to transform the community to commercial farming and these innovations are very key especially low-cost solar irrigation pump because there are number of challenges that people face such as unfavorable weather conditions”

In addition, the DAO considered farming to be a business that should incorporate the gender perspective because, in the Lango sub-region, farming is a family business.

A female participant responded to the research findings that innovations have brought argument because women always put men to dominate in everything and the co-creation workshop was an opportunity she had to take the information home because she understood that innovations are for both women and men. Robert Ekwaro responded by saying that men do not always put themselves ahead of women but God created a man first and a woman second and naturally women always need support from men but it’s good that we have realized that work can be done better by equal consideration of men and women.

With evidenced-based results on the discussions about gender and innovations in the rural communities of Apac, Lira, Oyam, and Kole, WOUGNET and RAN will refine these three agricultural innovations to make sure that they are gender-responsive.

Compiled and written by Amuku Isaac-WOUGNET Information sharing and networking department.


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