As women the world over prepared to celebrate the International Women’s Day, rural women in Lower Bolifamba in the South West Region of Cameroon had a different item on their agenda. On the eve of the celebration (Monday March 7th, 2016), Eco Relief organised a training workshop in Lower Bolifamba on the theme Gender Mainstreaming in Climate Smart Agriculture. The workshop brought together 28 women farmers from Bolifamba and 27 students from the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Buea. The objective of this workshop was to educate women on the practicalities of climate change as well as build gender-responsive leadership and capacity towards farming practices that enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is a key component of Eco Relief’s Climate Smart Agriculture Programme.
As the workshop was tailored to have a strong component of capacity building of local women farmers and disseminate new knowledge to the Government, Eco Relief secured the participation of the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Women Affairs. These three Ministries were seen as directly implicated in promoting gender equality in the training of women farmers to implement climate smart agriculture practices. The representatives of the Ministries were: Mrs Eteki Stella Dopgima (Ministry of Women Affairs), Mrs Mercy Ekwaingen (Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development) and Mrs Beatrice Ngong (Ministry of Agriculture).
The climate smart agriculture practices on which women were trained were piloted in 2015 after developing the evidence base to prove the utility of such practices between 2013 and 2014.
Specific trainings were undertaken in:
- Managing landscapes for climate smart agricultural systems
- Improved land, soil and water management
- Sound Management of Energy for Climate-smart agriculture
- Conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture
- Climate-smart Livestock
- Climate-smart fisheries and aquaculture
At the end of the workshop, a raffle draw was organised for a chance to win one of three energy efficient cook stoves that use charcoal, reduce emissions and decrease the demand for forest wood. One of the workshop participants and stove winner, Hannah Fontambia, had this to say:
“Thanks to Eco Relief, I now have a better understanding of how to plant corn in a way that will not be destroyed by winds from heavy rainfall, as well as retain soil moisture. With this good harvest, I will be able to get more money to support my children as I am a widow. I now know burning the bushes is a bad thing and want to also thank Eco Relief for making me know how to enhance soil fertility without using fertilizer. I am very happy about the stove I have won because I will now use only charcoal to cook food and this will save me the time I spend fetching firewood”.
The training was made to coincide with the crop planting season to ensure Eco Relief’s field operations officers can be on hand to monitor the implementation of lessons learned by the women. Feedback and progress reporting will be undertaken throughout the year as part of our Climate Smart Agriculture Programme.