Building WOmen Smallholder Farmers’ empowerment and adaptive capacities: A pathway to Enhancing women’s Resilience to climate change in Uganda(WOSFER)

Summary: Rural women smallholder farmers face a myriad of gender-based constraints that raise their vulnerability to climate change shocks. This project will strengthen the empowerment and adaptive capacity of women smallholder farmers in the cattle corridor of Uganda (specifically, Katakwi and Lyantonde districts) using gender-transformative approaches, including training, mentorship and peer learning to promote the use of appropriate and sustainable climate-smart agronomic practices; timely weather information through women-friendly digital innovations; participatory community engagements targeting women, men, young people, and local, religious and cultural leaders; and the engagement of policy actors and practitioners in promoting gender-responsive policies. A special index measuring women’s empowerment in agriculture will be used to evaluate the interventions, and an additional module will capture changes in women’s resilience to shocks or stresses.

Context: Uganda is becoming hotter and drier, as average temperatures have increased by 1.3°C since the 1960s while average monthly rainfall is currently decreasing by approximately 6.0 mm with each passing decade. These changes are impacting the agricultural sector, particularly in drylands and “cattle corridor” areas that stretch across the country. Uganda’s agricultural systems are climate dependent, relying heavily on rain-fed agriculture and dominated by smallholder farmers, especially women. The need to protect the most vulnerable in Africa through strengthening resilience to climate change-related shocks for improved livelihoods and production systems is recognized by the African Union’s Malabo commitments. The Government of Uganda has been actively involved in global negotiations for addressing gender discrimination as well as those relating to climate change matters and increasingly encouraging the use of digital technologies and innovations to enhance the productivity and resilience of farmers, especially smallholder women farmers.

Project Objectives

Main Objective: To strengthen the empowerment and adaptive capacity of women smallholder farmers in the cattle corridor of Uganda using gender transformative approaches.

Specific Objectives:

  1. Establish women smallholder farmers’ levels of empowerment and adaptive capacities to the effects of climate change.
  2. Assess the social cultural gender norms, economic and political trade-offs and barriers to empowerment and climate adaptation by women smallholder farmers.
  3. Design and test a mix of gender transformative climate change adaptation innovations that are effective in enhancing women smallholder farmers’ empowerment and resilience to the effects of climate change.
  4. Advocate for policies and practices that enhance women smallholder farmers’ empowerment and adaptive capacities to climate change shocks.

Approach and Methods

The team proposes to test a suite of gender transformative interventions that address women’s needs and realities including addressing the structural barriers, norms and unequal power dynamics that constrain their effective adaptation to climate change. The team will design, implement, and rigorously evaluate different intervention packages that will transform and improve women smallholder’s empowerment and adaptive capacities to increase their resilience to climate change impacts:

  1. Training, mentorship and peer learning to facilitate the use of appropriate and sustainable climate-smart agronomic practices such as improved home gardens, organic farming, integrated crop and livestock farming; labour-saving agriculture technologies, conservation agricultural technologies; post-harvest innovations that reduce yield variability and enhance the mitigation and adaption to climate change hazards, improve food security and the livelihoods of the community.
  2. Provision of timely weather information through women-friendly digital innovations on extreme weather events and other agricultural and marketing-related information. The team will deploy community digital champions to support the interpretation and use of the weather information on local weather conditions.
  3. Community engagement and conversations targeting women, men, young people, and local, religious, and cultural leaders to foster the transformation of the discriminatory social-cultural gender norms that disadvantage women. Community change agents will be deployed as digital champions to support these activities.
  4. Engagement with policy actors and practitioners to review and develop policies and programmes to support women smallholder’s empowerment and resilience.

The project team plans to utilize the project-specific Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (pro-WEAI) to evaluate the interventions, including an additional module to capture changes in women’s resilience (i.e., response or adaptation to climate shocks or stresses). These will be informed by in-depth intersectional gender analysis, participatory stakeholder engagement feedback processes, statistical analyses, and ICT digital tools.

Expected Results, Outcomes and Impact

Expected Results: A total of 1,504 beneficiaries will directly benefit from the project through the implementation of the interventions. Approximately 50 policymakers and practitioners at national and district levels will benefit from stakeholder meetings that will be organized during the implementation of the project and 100 community leaders will be involved in project activities during the scoping study, baseline surveys, and other project activities. The project team will also conduct capacity building for about 20 local government staff mainly agricultural, community development, and environmental officers who will engaged in implementing interventions. The team will provide training in gender transformative approaches and interventions, enabling local government staff to sustain project outcomes.

User training and digital literacy on the use of mobile phones are expected to benefit 752 smallholder farmers and 60 community digital champions. The project will make a meaningful impact through the adoption of gender-responsive adaptation practices including gender-sensitive climate-smart agriculture, post-harvest innovations, and value addition for enhanced women’s adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change shocks.

Improved awareness and use of weather information to assist in decision-making for improved agricultural production and farm management. This will include advancing systems and practices about climate-smart information and practices tailored towards rural smallholder women farmers to build their resilience to weather risks and shocks.

The project will unveil knowledge and lessons about climate-smart agricultural innovations and training which challenge structural social-cultural gender norms, build gender-equitable families and communities, and foster improved agricultural production and better livelihoods. The project will also produce at least three publications in international open-access peer-reviewed journals/books and two policy briefs.

Project expected outcomes and impact: The overall impact will be enhanced women’s empowerment and resilience to climate shocks. Specifically, we envisage the following;

  1. Enhanced smallholder women farmers’ knowledge and skills in gender-responsive and transformative climate-smart agronomic practices and post-harvest innovations, value addition
  2. Increased women’s farmers’ social capital and physical resources (land, assets)
  3. Improved women’s power and agency
  4. Enhanced shared roles and responsibilities in the households
  5. Improved household food security and well-being with increased investment in the children’s education, and general health care
  6. Changed social and gender norms and perceptions about gender equality and women’s empowerment
  7. Increased recognition of supporting women smallholder farmers among policymakers and practitioners

Project Team Members