PEI Africa showcases Rwandese success story at UN organized Sharefair
Agriculture continues to be an important engine of growth in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. It employs a substantive proportion of the population, and is a critical source of food security and nutrition. Unfortunately, gender inequalities common to the region significantly dampen the sectors productivity. Despite well-documented benefits such as accelerated growth and poverty reduction resulting from women’s empowerment in the agriculture sector, women still lack access to crucial inputs such as finance, technology, knowledge, and land to maximize their productive contributions.
As a means to promote technologies and innovations that support rural female small-holder farmers, UN Women in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Institute for Rural Reconstruction, and World Food Programme (WFP), hosted a Sharefair and round table discussions from 15 to 17 October at UN headquarters in Nairobi. PEI-Africa supported achievements in creating a ‘green’ sustainable village, spearheaded by a women-led cooperative, in Kabeza village in the Rubaya sector of northern Rwanda, were highlighted at the Sharefair. Ms. Muhawenimana Solange (Head of Kabeza village cooperative) and Ms. Alphonsine Sheri (Single Project Implementation Unit Coordinator, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, REMA) earned the opportunity to exhibit their successes in enhancing food security and addressing gender issues through the adoption of a set of new technologies.
How did Kabeza village come to be known as the ‘green sustainable village’?
In response to high levels of poverty and pressures from unsustainable use of resources, PEI in collaboration with REMA assisted the Kabeza village in adopting technologies that would put them on a pro-poor sustainable development path. Ownership of the initiative was placed in the hands of a local women-led cooperative. Increased agricultural productivity, resulting from key interventions such as: introducing rainwater harvesting systems, the use of biogas residue as a fertilizer, tree planting for climate proofing, and terracing, has helped increase food security for the community. Excess production is being sold in the market generating an annual income of $26,000 for the cooperative.
The initiative has about 200 beneficiaries out of which 62 % are women. Moreover, having water closer to hand and biogas for cooking has saved significant time, and women and children can now spend their time on more productive activities including school work. Mrs. Solange proudly says that “before at this site, the poor people were the poorest among the poor but if you see them now, they look better off. Living conditions are better.”
The demonstration village has generated immense interest and has been part of south-south exchange programmes involving government representatives from Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Malawi. The Rubaya success is further being replicated in Muhanga district, with support from REMA, UNDP Rwanda and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Further, the Ministry of Local Government has in the 2014/2015 fiscal year requested all districts to establish at least one demonstration village based on the best practices from Rubaya.