Women: the leading actors of Livelihoods Funds’ projects

Women are everywhere in Livelihoods Funds’ projects: leading the planting campaigns to feed their family, improving the farm revenue or their own workload through improved cookstoves. Individually and even more collectively, women are the driving force of the change in most of Livelihoods Funds’ projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We are so honored to celebrate their leadership on the Women Day with an example in Kenya

Women pave the way for more resilient agriculture in Mount Elgon- Kenya

In Kenya, women are responsible for most of the activities in dairy production: feeding, milking, surveillance of the cows. They sometimes have to walk over long distances to find feed and water for the cows and spend hours looking after the animals. Women also have to deal with domestic chores, which include collecting water and firewood, and take care of their family. All these time-consuming and non-remunerated tasks hinder women’s access to education and other income-generating activities, which keeps them away from decision-making in the household and even in the community.

In the Mount Elgon region, more and more women are striving to change this situation. To support this momentum, the Livelihoods-Mount Elgon project brings together the necessary conditions to give women equal access to training and leadership positions in dairy cooperatives.

In the Livelihoods-Mount Elgon project, 30,000 family farms will have access to training on sustainable farming practices and benefit from more efficient connection to markets. The project leverages the existing social dynamics in farmers’ groups to reach the largest number of women. Training hours and modalities have been adapted to women’s activities and constraints to ensure their active participation. Since the project started in 2016, more than 10,000 women have already been trained ​​on sustainable farming practices which aim at durably​ increasing​​ yield and milk production with crop diversification, cow efficient feeding, watering & breeding​. In this way, women are becoming professional farmers who can manage their farms on the long-run.

Women in the project express a strong will to have equal share of responsibilities and benefits for men and women. A “Household Roadmap”, an innovative tool, has therefore been designed to support them in reaching this goal. It namely identifies areas of improvement in the workload, roles and responsibilities between husband and wife. With this tool, women get a better recognition of their contributions to the household and they can build a shared vision for its development. For example, with a “Household Roadmap”, husband and wife identify different levers to relieve the woman’s workload: investment in on-farm feed production, a borehole… After only one year, over 1,000 families have already volunteered to elaborate their “Household Roadmaps”, showing that women’s struggle for more equity is slowly but surely finding its way.

Moreover, in the project zone, the dairy activity is organized through cooperatives in which women are generally under-represented, particularly at leadership and decision-making positions. The project fosters women’s participation in the governance of the cooperatives by providing them with training on management and leadership and by strengthening the cooperatives’ by-laws to implement gender balance.

The Livelihoods-Mount Elgon project will be monitored over a 10-year span to ensure it delivers tangible results, namely in supporting the women in their journey towards more equity. This Livelihoods Carbon Fund’s project is implemented in the field by Vi Agroforestry, a local NGO, and is supported by Brookside, a Kenyan dairy company.

Photos: Laurent Joffrion, Gérard Tordjman, Nicolas Gauduchon.