Women-Led Food Security and Nutrition
Having directly targeted 420 vulnerable households in nine rural communities, CPAR’s Women-Led Food Security and Nutrition Project was designed to build resilient rural communities that could achieve and maintain year-round household food security, diversify livelihoods, and improve household nutritional status.
This project was built using the Farmer Field School model. Farmer Field Schools are farmer-led ‘schools without walls’ that leveraged the knowledge and experience of farmers, which enabled them to experiment together and adapt farming methods to suit their own unique and often fragile ecosystems. The Farmer Field School approach allowed CPAR to address the rights and needs of food producers within a larger context. In keeping with its commitment to strengthening the position of women and promoting gender equality in all of its work, CPAR encouraged female participation and leadership, and promoted a ‘special topics’ component within its Farmer Field School curriculum. Special topics were chosen by the communities themselves to address specific socio-cultural issues such as gender dynamics, human rights, HIV and malaria prevention.
Through farmer observation and the sharing of both knowledge and agricultural inputs such as improved seeds and livestock, this project achieved a much greater reach, benefiting over 1176 households.
Why this project was important
Food insecurity and malnutrition are major barriers to development in the Dibate district of Ethiopia. 85 per cent of the population is vulnerable to food shortages, particularly among the indigenous Gumuz population. The region is rich in natural resources, yet the population is facing challenges such as crop and livestock diseases, a lack of skilled human resources, and limited or no access to market linkages. To cope, many people reduce their daily food intake, while others in the area rely on finding forest foods and hunting wild animals, or collecting and selling firewood.
The prevalence of malnutrition in Dibate is demonstrated by the high percentage of children ages six to 36 months whose growth is stunted (40 per cent) and who are underweight (35 per cent). Over 40 per cent of children are acutely malnourished and half the population suffers from anemia. Gumuz families eat only twice a day and consequently women are often too physically weak to engage in productive agricultural activities.
During the project’s three years of implementation, CPAR has:
- Improved the overall crop productivity in the targeted communities by up to 250%.
- Provided farmers with new knowledge and skills, such as row planting, proper spacing, Conservation Agriculture, Natural Resource Management, and integrated pest management resulting in a 124% increase in maize production, a 94% increase in teff production, a 48% increase in bean production, and a 38% increase in peanut production.
- Procured and distributed 650 fuel saving stoves in order to reduce the pressure on natural forests.
- Established two tree nurseries.
- Cultivated and transplanted 354,200 trees of various varieties.
- Provided 31 individual farmers (19 female) with 87kg of different types of tree seeds, 52 nursery hand tools, and 148 kg of polyethylene bags as start-up equipment to establish nurseries of their own.
- Increased the average female-headed household income by 72%.
- Helped 165 children reach acceptable heights and weights for their ages.
- Provided 1,500 households (comprised of 52% female members) with various fruit and vegetables seeds along with the necessary skill training required for cultivation.