Beginning June this year, economically disadvantaged women farmers will start benefitting from a new initiative, Gender Climate Change Agriculture Support Programme (GCCASP).
GCCASP was initiated by New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and aims at empowering smallholder women farmers to deal with adverse effects of climate change and variability.
Nadine Umutoni Gatsinzi, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, said women are the majority in the agriculture sector and have to deal with numerous challenges.
She said that statistics show that a significant number of women are involved in subsistence agriculture and aspects such as climate change often make it harder for them to earn a livelihood.
“The project will equip women with skills and tools on know how to deal with climate change effects such as prolonged dry seasons. They will also receive inputs such as seeds and fertilisers, which are more resistant to drought. The farmers will also be introduced to farming technology,” she said.
The pilot phase of the project will be carried out in Ngoma and Nyaruguru districts.
The two districts were chosen by Rwanda Environment Management Authority and Ministry of Agriculture largely due to the presence of a large number of vulnerable farmers compared to the other districts.
The initiative will later be expanded to the entire country, officials said.
The project will be implemented through existing initiatives by non-governmental organisations which promote and empower women, most of who have already submitted their proposals.
Edna Kalima, the Program Officer of GCCASP, said Rwanda is one of the five countries in Africa which will benefit from the project.
“During the design phase of the programme, there was an indication that women are facing lot of challenges like lack of inputs, inadequate technologies, lack of skills on how to use technologies and sometimes financial constraints,” Kalima said.
Often, women fail to join international markets due to adverse effects of climate change, among other challenges, she added.
Kalima said the project will intervene in four aspects, including reviewing policies and institutional capacities to ensure that institutions are empowered to handle issues of climate change.
“Creating women platforms where they will work together to raise their voice to be able to have a say and bring up an agenda will also be an objective of the project,” she said.
Agnes Mukamabano, the Women Council coordinator in Nyaruguru District, said that often natural disasters cause them to lose their crops.
“For example, this week we had heavy rains and we lost more than 100 hectares of crops we had planted a few months ago,” she said.
She added that they hope the project will also equip them with necessary skills and tools to be able to develop themselves through agriculture.