DCA empowering women to inspire inclusion

“The seeds of success are best planted by women…” Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi

© Ferguson Olemarampa

As the world marks International Women’s Day, it is evident that the journey towards achieving gender equality by 2030 is progressing – albeit at a slow pace. DanChurchAid (DCA), with support from donors and together with implementing partners, works to achieve this by investing in and empowering women. DCA and partners do this through projects focusing on the following areas:

Women’s economic empowerment

Through various projects, DCA works with local partners to empower women economically and accelerate progress of women in society. In Nakuru County, DCA works with Women’s Empowerment Link (WEL) in implementing a project focused on strengthening community-based structures to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence. One of the strategies employed is economic empowerment of women for sustainable livelihoods through the promotion of the Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC). WEL is supporting 43 women’s groups in select wards of Nakuru County with business grants of 19,000 shillings (910 DKK) and training them on financial literacy, business plans and records keeping.

Ushindicom self-help group, one of the groups supported, used the grant money to set up a kitchen garden to grow and sell farm produce for sustenance. In November 2022, they signed a one-year lease for land, using the rest of the money to buy farm inputs such as seedlings and fertilizer.  At the first trial, they planted beans and cow peas but unfortunately the crops were washed away by floods, and they only managed to harvest 70 kilograms of beans. The group did not give up. In the new planting season – after putting measures to prevent soil erosion in the future by digging furrows around their farm – they planted spinach, cow peas, kales and local Kenyan vegetables. They have been harvesting since January 2024 after every ten days.

© Ferguson Olemarampa

Between January to March 2023, Ushindicom self-help group has sold vegetables worth 20,000 shillings (958 DKK) which they have saved in their account. Apart from selling, the members also get vegetables for their families’ consumption, thereby improving nutrition.

Our livelihoods and lives have been transformed through this project. We now know how important our roles are as women in the community.
Jackline Kerubo, member Ushindicom self-help group.

Additionally, in many other projects, DCA and partners intervene through supporting Village Loans and Saving Associations (VSLA). In 2023, for instance, 797 such groups consisting of 13,806 members were supported, with 9,468 of these members being women. Cumulatively, the groups saved 59,945,350 shillings (2,877,082 DKK) and borrowed 91,011,227 shillings (4,368,091 DKK). I visited Kigogo Canaan VSLA group in Tumaini, Nakuru County, in March 2024. The 21 members were sharing out their savings after a year of saving and loaning. The group started in February 2023 and had saved 220,000 shillings (10,583 DKK) by February 2024. The member with the highest share received a payout of 36,000 shillings (1,731 DKK), made up of savings and interest.

Netty Cherono Koskei, 29 yrs, mother of one.

When Netty found herself a young mother of one and with limited opportunities, she knew life would be difficult. The best option at that time was to be hosted by her sister in Kaptembwo informal settlement in Nakuru County. By good luck, a mentor from WEL introduced her to Arise and Shine self-help group. Together with other members, she was trained by WEL on business ideas, human rights and financial literacy. They shared out the grant from WEL and Netty used the money to open a small grocery kiosk where she sells vegetables, tomatoes and onions.

In May 2023, she expanded her business to include selling of potatoes and chips, and her business has been growing since then.

I am not where I was in 2021. Now I have business knowledge and money to implement my ideas. I am not yet where I want to be, but I am sure it is not far. Sometimes business has challenges, but the mentors have been consistently helping us out with ideas and motivation.
Netty Cherono.
Netty Cherono in her shop in Kaptembwo, Nakuru County.

Netty can now take care of her 7-year-old daughter, pay for rent, school fees and has increased her weekly savings in the group’s account from 200 to 400 shillings and since January to March 2024, she has saved 3000 shillings (144 DKK). She is looking forward to expanding her business in May 2024 to include sweet potatoes and sardines.

Involving women in sustainable agriculture and food security

In Turkana County – one of the most food insecure counties in Kenya – women and children are mostly affected. Danida is supporting DCA to increase household capacity to maintain and improve income, assets, and food security in the face of outside stresses and shocks. Under a project known as ‘Inuana’ (meaning ‘lift each other up’ in Swahili), DCA works with local partner Sustainable Approaches for Community Empowerment (SAPCONE) to improve community farming mostly targeting women. 30 farming groups in four wards of the county have been supported with trainings on climate change, crop production, agroecology, marketing, and providing farm inputs. Through this intervention, community members, especially women have gained farming knowledge, able to get vegetables for their families and from the sale of their farm produce, able to support their families.

Effect of climate change on women

In West Pokot and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties, climate change heightens conflict and fragility by creating food and livelihood insecurity; increasing competition over resources such as water and land and forcing people to migrate. In most cases, women become vulnerable. Together with our partner, Anglican Development Services North Rift Region (ADS – NR), DanchurchAid (DCA) is implementing a Danida-funded project known as Strengthening Resilience among Agro pastoralists for Enhanced Livelihoods (STRAPEL), aimed at improving the resilience of communities to drought and other effects of climate change in the counties of Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot.

Rebecca feeding chicken.

ADS-NR supported farmers’ groups with trainings on chicken farming, bee keeping, dairy goat farming, pasture establishment and post-harvest management, preparation of kitchen gardens and group governance amongst others. ADS-NR also provided farm inputs like certified vegetable seeds, poultry drinkers and feeders and bee hives through a cost-share model, where the groups contributed half of the price. Of the 2,948 people reached under the project, 2,021 are women. By building sustainable livelihoods of communities, we are increasing their capacity to cope with both conflict and climate-related shocks and stresses.

© Ferguson Olemarampa

In Elgeyo Marakwet County, DCA is supporting partner Mwangaza Light to implement the ‘Greening Churches in Elgeyo Marakwet through Eco-theology, Tree Planting & Clean Energy Technology’project. One of the objectives of the project is to promote positive behaviour change amongst congregants as pertains to climate action, to tackle the effects of climate change especially on women. In most African families, cooking roles are largely women’s responsibility. Households in the County mostly use traditional sources of fuel such as firewood and charcoal. On top of destroying the environment, this exacerbates health risks of those involved, mostly women.

The project mobilized congregations by building capacity of predominantly female Change Agents to promote behaviour change amongst congregants as pertains to climate action, especially tree growing and clean energy adoption. As a result of the project, about 1500 people – the majority women – have embraced the use of clean energy cooking solutions by adopting clean cookstoves.

Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress

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