Gender and individual irrigation technologies



Gender and water technologies use for irrigation and multiple purposes in Ethiopia

A new report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) outlines the results of a study on gender and individual irrigation technologies in two Africa RISING Project sites in Ethiopia, Bale (Illu Sambitu Kebele) and Lemo (Jawe and Upper Gana Kebeles).

Based on a survey of 79 farmers (38 men and 41 women) across four types of water lifting technologies, the study explored the intra-household gender dynamics in Africa RISING pilots of water lifting technologies (rope and washer pump, tractor and drip, and solar pumps). The technologies are installed near farmer households to produce irrigated fodder, vegetables (carrot and cabbage) and fruits (avocado) in the dry season, and to serve multiple other purposes. Diesel pump users already producing dry season vegetables in the sites were included in the study.

The study found that farmers use the water lifting technologies for multiple purposes across seasons with improved water quality enhancing use for domestic purposes. While the project targets both women and men farmers, women still have lower access to most resources, particularly information. Men were found to mostly control the use of the technologies especially for irrigation, though both women and men perceive the level of control over the technologies differently. Nearly all respondents indicated that the technologies ease work both on-farm for irrigation and for domestic and livestock watering roles.

Women and men respondents ranked double cropping as the highest benefit of the technologies, followed by domestic uses and livestock watering, though men also considered social status improvement as a benefit. Most respondents said there is equal sharing of benefit within the household, though there is indication that men have more control over income from the technologies. Women primarily make decisions on use of the income from the technologies only for food and small household purchases. In addition to benefits at household level, respondents consider the technologies as beneficial to community, because they provide easy access to water for domestic purposes.



Pollution and desertification have a disproportionate impact on women and children


Photo credit: Jordan Times

Pollution, desertification and women’s rights linked — SIGI



Pollution and desertification have a disproportionate impact on women and children, the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) argued, as new figures ranked Jordan as the 10th most polluted country in the world.

The Kingdom is the 10th most polluted country globally (among 115 countries ranked) and the second most polluted in the Arab world, a SIGI statement released on Tuesday said.

Citing the website, SIGI said that Jordan received 85.73 points regarding environmental pollution, while Egypt received 88.88 points.  Libya received the best ranking among Arab countries and the 84th rank globally with 45.30 points. 

The statement was issued on the occasion of World Environment Day, marked annually on June 5, in accordance with UN resolution 2994/27. 

Jordan faces many environmental problems, including desertification, waste, lack of water resources, industrial waste and air pollution, SIGI said, adding that the issues of women, environment and climate change are addressed in the Jordanian Woman National Strategy 2013-2017.

 The general goal of the strategy, the statement continued, is to build the capacities and knowledge of women, in order to preserve the environment through active participation in the policy and decision-making processes related to the environment and climate change. 

Women have an “important and vital role to play” in dealing with desertification, yet they are negatively affected by the increasing amount of lands facing this form of environmental degradation, SIGI said. 

The problem is especially acute in dry areas, because those lands lose their productive abilities, which in turn affects food supply and increases rates of hunger  around the world, with 70 per cent of those affected being  women, the statement added.  

Massive inequity between male and female farmers


Photo credit: USAID


Women in agriculture and food security programming: Promoting more meaningful change

Bryan Crawford-Garrett, Oxu Solutions

Women make up approximately half of the world’s farmers, but there is massive inequity between male and female farmers—especially in the developing world.

These inequities are most pronounced in terms of women lacking equal access to and control over productive resources. To address this ‘gender gap’ in agriculture, there are numerous NGOs, multilateral agencies, and donors working to improve women’s engagement in and empowerment through agriculture and food security programming. Certain programming principles promoted by these actors have been well-documented elsewhere, such as the importance of considering women’s time and workload demands and the benefit of including both men and women in training and other project activities. In order to promote more meaningful change, however, programs need to be more precise in their design and more ambitious in their measurement, and implementing staff must have the appropriate support and skills to facilitate lasting impact.

“Traditional agricultural development programs primarily serve men’s interests and often include increases in income and profits…as high-level objectives. Depending on the context, however, female farmers or entrepreneurs may have different preferences.”

How can we strengthen the impact of women in agriculture and food security programs in a development context?

In this post I offer four overarching considerations that are critical to improving the outcomes of women engagement and gender equality programs in agriculture and food security. These recommendations are based on work across numerous organizations and contexts the past few years with colleagues at Oxu Solutions to design, evaluate and learn from initiatives that promote women’s engagement in and empowerment through agriculture and food security programming.

1. Be clear, precise, and realistic about the ultimate desired change for the program and for women within that program

Read the full article: People, Food and Nature


We need a programme to promote sacks gardening at a global level

Photo credit: Avantgardens

Sacks gardening in Kibera, Kenya


by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem – University of Ghent (Belgium)


Smallholders and rural producers have a vital role to play in overcoming global hunger and poverty, and new and varied partnerships are needed, with particular emphasis on the interests of women, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on February 17th, 2010.  He also confirmed that the growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in poverty reduction is helping to build the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition.

* Sacks - Malawi - Photo Heifer - MW201204-320-e1365708582234-682x1024.jpg
* Sacks – Vegetables on sacks in Malawi – Photo Heifer – MW201204-320-e1365708582234-682×1024.jpg


Despite the hardships of the global recession, one saw an upturn in investment in agriculture, along with promises from world leaders of large additional increases over the next years, he said, thereby underscoring that “we need to continue creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, nutritional health and self-reliance. In this respect we must give pre-eminence to the interests of women, who juggle their time between food production, processing, marketing, child care and balancing the household budget”.

In every developing country people are suffering from the high food prices.


* Sack - Garbagenwealth GoodHealth - 58318_103530029804304_2040917991_n.jpg
* Sacks – Gardening on big bags – Garbagenwealth GoodHealth – 58318_103530029804304_2040917991_n.jpg


Taking into account that most of the rural women in the drylands spend the major part of their daily life with small-scale agricultural activities, it goes without saying that, when creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, the best return on investment will come from the creation of small kitchen gardens close to their houses.

* Sacks - Photo Crops in pots 386314_302266149815757_262706507105055_825194_1086186138_n.jpg
* Sacks – Students setting up a sack garden in Karachi (Pakistan) -Photo Crops in pots 386314_302266149815757_262706507105055_825194_1086186138_n.jpg


There is no need to offer them some financial resources.  Funding to start up a family garden can be done as a “micro-credit”, not with a certain sum of money, but in the form of the necessary materials and equipment. Success stories have shown that, in rural areas, offering a family garden to women is the easiest and most efficient way to combat hunger and poverty.

However, in urban areas the situation is quite different. With their extremely low income and having barely a patch of arable land, many of the urban families are confronted with some form of hunger and malnutrition.  In Nairobi (Kenya), hundreds of residents of the slums have adopted a new form of intensive gardening: growing vegetables and herbs in sacks.


* Sacks - potatoes - Photo Farm Curious - 81135230757539134_dRGYJxyM_f.jpg
* Sacks – Potatoes and other vegetables on plastic and burlap sacks – Photo Farm Curious – 81135230757539134_dRGYJxyM_f.jpg


Previously, women in densely populated cities planted vegetables on small plots of barren land. Nowadays, the novel form of gardening in sacks or all kinds of containers can be introduced in every urban area.  Indeed, as finding even small patches of arable land in a city or a town is becoming almost impossible, sacks or other containers, taking up less space than small-scale gardens, are an interesting solution for food production.


* Sacks (big bags) Treehugger vacant-lot-lfa.jpg
* Sacks – An urban garden on big bags –  Treehugger vacant-lot-lfa.jpg


With only a small budget, NGOs can easily start up a sacks gardening project with a small number of women and later extend invitations to more women, and even schools, to join the group.  This seems to be a fantastic way for almost every urban family or school to have access to affordable vegetables, herbs and fruits.

Wherever needed, a short training in sacks gardening can be planned. Women and children can learn in the shortest time these simple gardening techniques of container gardening, in particular those of water harvesting, soil fertilization and adequate irrigation.


* Sack - veggies - Photo Terry Schreiner - 574890_3304491894160_1114278384_n.jpg
* Sack – Onions and herbs on a plastic sack – Photo Terry Schreiner – 574890_3304491894160_1114278384_n.jpg


As sacks gardening can provide a sustainable source of vegetables and fruits, one can foresee a growing success of this novel form of gardening both in rural and in urban areas. NGOs and foundations can help women and schools to fence their gardening plots and to store irrigation water (not drinking water).

With a limited number of sacks of vegetables family members or school children do not fear to be hungry.  It would be a remarkably easy way of food production in refugee camps, where every family could have a small number of sacks close to the tent.


* Sacks - garbage - Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n.jpg
* Sacks – Gardening on garbage big bags – Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n.jpg


The success of similar projects in developing countries on all continents should encourage NGOs, foundations, banks and international agencies like FAO, WFP and UNHCR to invest in this efficient way of combating hunger and poverty.

If there is really a growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in poverty reduction, helping to build the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, along with promises from world leaders of large additional increases over the next years, like Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said, then it should not be so difficult to set up a programme to promote sacks gardening at a global level.


Imagine all the people … (John LENNON).


First help the local people to decent food

Photo credit: WVC 1997

Photo taken at the start of the community garden photographed 12 years later by Willemien (see photo of 2009-02 in Niou). At the first training session, the local women learn how to apply the soil conditioner TerraCottem.

Do hungry people need trees or a garden?

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem – University of Ghent (Belgium)

Four years ago, a friend has sent a message, in which a short paragraph got my special attention:

The …………………… (name) Movement started a project in the Senegal many years ago. I participated in the information campaign. The field workers planted about 20.000 Acacia trees. Visiting the project one year later they saw that all the little trees dried out.  The local people answered that they had not enough water for the trees; they used it for their cows and goats.  But how could we plant 20.000 trees with …………. (name of a technology)?  It would be too expensive!

Here is my reply to him:

Dear Friend, You are completely right.  All those big projects are doomed to be unsuccessful, simply because a number of limiting factors (like water) will always hinder the achievement of the goals.

Instead of spending all the good money at reforestation without taking care of the hunger and poverty of the local people, foreign aid should concentrate on agro-forestry, creating small family gardens and surround these with fruit trees (these are TREES too).

Photo credit: Willemien Maastricht
Photo credit: Willemien Committee Maastricht-Niou

2009-02 – Burkina Faso, Niou village, Jardin des Femmes: community garden combined with mango trees, created in 1997 by the Belgium TC-Dialogue Foundation in cooperation with the Committee Maastricht-Niou for the local village women’s association Gueswende.

We should not look first at economic return on our investment, e.g. planting trees and shrubs for biofuel, but first of all eliminate hunger and diseases in a region, which is a conditio sine qua non to count on the collaboration of the local population at bigger reforestation projects in the future.

How can we ever justify that we ‘help‘ the local people if our main objective is to gain ‘something’ for ourselves?

For me, there is only one solution: first help the local people to decent food and then see how they can really help us to create return on investment.

Photo credit: Willemien Committee Masstricht-Niou
Photo credit: Willemien Committee Masstricht-Niou

2009-02 Burkina Faso: Jardin Kabouda, a community garden created with the support of the Committee Maastricht-Niou. A splendid example of combating hunger, child malnutrition and poverty.

Unfortunately, it has been and still is always business as usual, even for some international organizations, surviving thanks to the unsolved problems like hunger, child malnutrition and poverty, for which billions of dollars are repeatedly collected, without changing much at the grassroot level.

I get tears in my eyes, thinking at all those poor people out there, seeing how billions are spent year after year at what is called combating the problems.

Hunger, child malnutrition and poverty should be combated in the field itself, at the grassroot level, by offering people a chance to grow their own fresh food and fruits in a private family (kitchen) garden or in a community garden (see photos above).

We will never win that war if we continue to ship only food (the ammunition) to the frontline, not the necessary weapons (a fence, fertilizers, seeds, …) to create small gardens, the ideal platform for self-sufficiency.

For sure: victory can be ours!  Let us make the right strategic move.



Women Plant Seeds of Hope : “We need all the nutrients we can get here” in Dabaab (Somalia) – IPS

Read at :

Braving Dust storms, Women Plant Seeds of Hope

By UN Women

“The lack of livelihood opportunities is a contributing factor to sexual and gender-based violence at the camp.” — Idil Absiye, Peace and Security Specialist with UN Women Kenya

In the world’s largest refugee complex – the sprawling Dadaab settlement in Kenya’s North Eastern Province – women listen attentively during a business management workshop held at a hospital in one of its newest camps, Ifo 2.

Leila Abdulilahi, a 25-year-old Somali refugee and mother, has brought her five-month-old along, while her four other children wait at home. She asks question after question, eager to learn more. Leila has lived in the camp for the past three years and has no source of income, so her family depends on the rations distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP).

Unlike others, who have called Dadaab home since 1991, at the start of the civil war in Somalia, Leila is a ‘new arrival’ – a term used for those who came after the 2011 drought and more recent military intervention against extremist groups.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, as of September 2014 there were 341,359 registered refugees in Dadaab — the world’s largest refugee camp — half of whom are women.

“We are afraid to go fetch firewood in the forest. Bandits also attack us in our own homesteads and rape us,” says Leila. “If I had the money I would just buy firewood and I wouldn’t have to go or send my daughter to the forest.”


I want to open a shop. With the profit I make, I will buy clothes, vegetables and fruits for my children,” says Leila.

She and 300 other vulnerable women will be trained in business management and horticulture agriculture and supported to start a business that will help sustain their families.

Higala Mohammed, a farmer from Somalia, is optimistic about the group’s labour. Inspired, she has also set up a small vegetable garden next to her makeshift tent where she grows barere, a traditional Somalian vegetable. “We need all the nutrients we can get here,” she adds.

Leila’s pathway to independence makes her hopeful. “I want to work and support my family, even when I return home someday — and I will open a bigger shop,” she says.



Waste and wasteland, a green oasis in Dakar’s bustling outskirts (New Agriculturist)

Read at :

Transforming waste and wasteland in Dakar

Once renowned for their beauty, the public gardens of Senegal’s capital, Dakar, have suffered decades of neglect. The 400 metre long HLM Patte d’Oie, like other supposedly ‘green spaces’ in the city was, until recently, an ugly combination of rubbish dump and car park. But in 2010, the site was chosen to house Dakar’s new municipal plant nursery. Construction and improvement of the site began in December 2010, quickly producing a green oasis in the city’s bustling outskirts. As part of the Sustainable Cities International (SCI) Network, Dakar is one of forty towns and cities around the world that are piloting social and technology innovations for more sustainable urban futures.

Table top gardens and a tree nursery

About one-third of the HLM Patte d’Oie area is dedicated to micro-gardening. Using groundnut and rice husks instead of soil, 145 table-top micro-gardens have been set up by a core team of 42 women. Taking care of the table gardens is a community activity; children, mothers and grandmothers cultivate over 30 species of plants, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuces, carrots and cabbages. The gardening project gives these women a productive activity outside their homes, helping them improve their families’ diets, reduce money spent on food and earn income from sales. Every day they come to water their crops and sell; many others come to find out information, buy vegetables or to chat, the area becoming a valuable social hub.

The rest of the area is dedicated to the trees, shrubs and flowers of the municipal plant nursery, destined for the streets and parks of Dakar, to improve air quality, lower temperatures and help to control noise pollution. Hardy, climate-tolerant species comprise the nursery’s inventory. The nursery itself is managed by a team of technicians and support staff from the municipality, but a monitoring committee has also been put in place, including four women and two young people from the district. Nursery staff provide training in nursery techniques and micro-gardening to unemployed youth and women in the area.