Progress in Eastern and Southern Africa

Issue number 12: June 2009

Message from the Director

Societies can fully develop when all members, both women and men, are able to participate equally and contribute to their full potential. In Sub-Sahara Africa, women are the most important producers in agriculture, especially of staple crops. Therefore, the efforts of women are crucial for increasing agricultural production and improving livelihoods. It is by acknowledging gender inequalities and truly addressing them that we will make progress on the path of development. Over the past decade, IFAD has made gender an essential part of its work, mainstreaming gender issues in all of our programmes and projects. This year, we have started a new programme for regional capacity-building and knowledge management for gender equality. The goal of the programme is to contribute to rural poverty reduction through improved gender equality and women’s empowerment. Its purpose is to improve the effectiveness of operations undertaken by IFAD and its partners to reduce rural poverty by increasing capacity for gender mainstreaming. The programme is implemented by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, FAO. This partnership between IFAD and FAO will offer benefits to both organizations by enabling them to share resources and learn from each other’s experience.

For the Eastern and Southern Africa Division, it will translate into concerted efforts to upgrade targeting and gender mainstreaming in design and implementation support. To further strengthen these efforts, the division is recruiting a Regional Gender Coordinator, who will be based in Nairobi, and will support projects and programmes to better address gender issues and include them as part of their daily work.

Ides de Willebois

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Gender: working together on equal ground

It is now recognized that economic development alone is not sufficient to help poor rural women rise out of poverty. Specific policies leading to women’s empowerment also need to be in place. The disproportionate number of women among extremely poor rural people shows that particular attention needs to be given to women. “Poverty has a strong gender dimension. In many communities in sub-Saharan Africa women are systematically poorer than men,” says Clare Bishop-Sambrook, a specialist in gender, targeting and HIV/AIDS who works with IFAD’s Eastern and Southern Africa Division.

When rural women are empowered, the benefits flow not only to the women themselves but also to their families and communities. Ultimately this has a direct impact on overall poverty reduction and household food security.

In many rural societies in sub-Saharan Africa, women are disadvantaged. They are afforded lower status than men and have less access to resources, yet they have greater responsibilities, as a result of their dual reproductive and productive roles and their community responsibilities as well. In agriculture in particular, where women account for about 70 per cent of the labour force, they have limited access to resources such as land, credit and technologies. They traditionally play a major role in agricultural production, but in many cases their husbands market the produce and take the proceeds of the sale. Consequently, women are reluctant to adopt practices and technologies that require more labour or greater attention to detail, and they are hesitant to shift to more market-oriented production when they will receive little additional reward.

Yet women farmers and entrepreneurs increasingly supply local, national and international markets with traditional and high-value produce. Still, they continue to face a number of disadvantages in comparison to men. Women are often less mobile, and they have less access to education, training and market information, as well as  production resources. In some cases, it is difficult for women to overcome cultural barriers that prevent them from undertaking specific economic activities. For many women living in traditional rural societies, stepping out of pre-defined gender roles can be a dilemma, as in the story of Howa, mother of four and would-be farmer in Eritrea (see ’Howa’s story’).

According to a World Bank study conducted in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Tanzania, women farmers and entrepreneurs could increase their incomes by an estimated 10 to 20 per cent if they were to receive the same inputs and education as men. And according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), women are more likely than men to use the resources and incomes they control to improve family food consumption and welfare, reduce child malnutrition and increase the overall well-being of the family.

Field experiences conducted through development programmes and projects in a number of the countries included in the Eastern and Southern Africa Division show that productivity and the quality of produce improve when gender disparities are addressed at the household level and all family members share in the benefits of improved production.

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IFAD action on gender

The Framework for Gender Mainstreaming in IFAD operations, released in 2008 as a follow-up to the Gender Plan of Action, outlines guiding principles for gender mainstreaming and defines the key features of gender-sensitive design and implementation of programmes and projects. In addition, IFAD has provided US$1.5 million to FAO for a two-year programme to strengthen gender mainstreaming in development projects through capacity-building, participatory learning and knowledge management. 
IFAD is also piloting household mentoring, a methodology developed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), which is producing promising results, particularly in terms of gender empowerment and combating HIV/AIDS (see ‘Tackling gender issues…’ ). 

A regional gender coordinator will be appointed in the Eastern and Southern Africa Division to help strengthen the gender focus of programmes and projects in the region. The coordinator, who will be based in Nairobi, Kenya, will also work with the IFAD-supported thematic networks in the region on agricultural water management, rural finance, market access and knowledge management, to help members focus on gender in their respective areas. Women’s groups in Madagascar and in Rodrigues Island in Mauritius have already started exchanging knowledge and study visits. 

Under the guidance of the coordinator, gender issues will be mainstreamed in all programmes.

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Women’s land rights

Land is one the most fundamental resources for improving women's living conditions, economic empowerment and, to some extent, their struggle for equity and equality. However, due to economic, legal, social and cultural factors their rights to get access to, control and transfer land are weak compared to those of men.

In most countries in Eastern and Southern Africa women are the main agricultural producers, and they tend to use what they produce for household food security. Yet women typically do not enjoy the same land rights as men. Although more than 60 percent of women in the Southern Africa region are dependent on land for their livelihoods, it is estimated that less than 10 per cent own land, and a woman’s right of access often depends on her husband’s consent. In many cases women cannot inherit land, and they often use communal land, where their rights are not well protected. Women are also often excluded from decision-making on how land is allocated, and they are less able to access local land administration institutions. Widows and orphans are being dispossessed of their land because of the HIV/AIDS pandemic: when husbands or fathers die, land often reverts to other male family members.

Over the past decade, governments and other stakeholders in Africa have given increasing recognition to the importance of land tenure security for economic growth and poverty reduction. Many countries have developed new land policies and legislation, or are in the process of doing so. There is a greater recognition of diverse tenure systems and the need to integrate customary and statutory systems into land administration systems.

As part of this process, many governments recognize the need to strengthen women’s land rights. Policy options for strengthening women’s statutory land rights include:

At the same time, it is also recognised that while it is important to strengthen women’s statutory rights, there is also a need to recognize and strengthen customary practices that protect women’s land rights. Once recognised, statutory rights need to be enforced and protected.

Above all, economic empowerment is seen as the main way to strengthen women’s land rights.

IFAD and its partners are supporting the enforcement of women’s land rights in several projects in the region. Projects in countries including  Ethiopia, Eritrea, Madagascar, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Swaziland are implementing activities related to land rights co-titling, increasing women’s participation in land administration, defending land rights, sensitizing traditional authorities and supporting will writings for children whose parents are affected by HIV/AIDS, in order to protect their rights.

Consultations have been carried out at IFAD headquarters, at field level and with other institutions to take stock of what has been done to strengthen women’s land rights, and to identify the main obstacles and challenges.

The results of the consultation have been consolidated in a concept note and presented during a seminar at IFAD headquarters in June. They will be used to further strengthen activities related to women’s land rights in IFAD-supported projects.

The main issues identified during the consultation include the need to:

Gender issues in post-conflict situations

There are many instances where women must be targeted specifically, because they need reinforced support. This is the case particularly in post-conflict areas. In Burundi, the Transitional Programme of Post-conflict Reconstruction (2005–2011) includes specific activities designed to rebuild women’s livelihoods, and they are supervised by a gender specialist in the project’s coordinating unit. Quotas are reserved for women in community development centres at local, district and regional levels. In addition, a US$800,000 legal defence fund was set up to provide women with legal support and advice on disputes over land and other productive assets, and to protect their basic rights.

“The fund will provide lawyers to take care of their defence,” says Abla Benhammouche, country programme manager at IFAD, who was involved in the programme design. “The programme is also implementing mobile legal units to educate citizens about their rights and obligations.” 

Women and rural finance


A KWFT Business Development Officer discusses loan repayment with a Neema Women's Group member


Other programmes in the region have had a substantial impact on women’s livelihoods, even though they may not have included specific gender-sensitive targeting. This is particularly true for rural finance schemes. In Madagascar, in the North East Agricultural Improvement and Development Programme (1997–2006), almost 80 per cent of households headed by women participated in credit schemes, and 60 per cent of participants in training were women. They were given the opportunity to borrow funds for income-generating activities. In Mozambique, the financial services component of the Sofala Bank Artisanal Fisheries Project (2002–2009) raised womens’ interest in joining savings and credit groups.

Women now account for about 30 per cent of the clients of the groups, but they represent only 5 per cent of clients of formal credit institutions. “Savings and credit groups are spreading fast. The approach started with the Sofala Bank Project and is now being scaled up in the Rural Finance Programme,” says Alessandro Marini, country programme manager at IFAD. Also, a rural microfinance institution (MFI), the Fundo de Desenvolvimento Mulher, was set up in the country to specifically serve the needs of women customers (see ‘Rural finance for women’ in this newsletter). The institution was partly modelled on the Kenya Women’s Finance Trust (KWFT), one of the first MFIs to target women. KWFT has since become one of the largest rural MFIs in Eastern and Southern Africa, and it is a showcase for a successful gender targeting approach. It is partly supported by IFAD.

Gender issues in value chains

Addressing gender issues along a value chain can be complex. Programmes need to specifically address gender differences along the entire value chain, including producers, intermediaries and processors, and proactively include those who have fewer assets. It is crucial to understand the roles women play in a value chain and the specific constraints they face, for example in obtaining access to financial services or technical support.

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Success stories from the field

Tackling gender issues and HIV/AIDS through household mentoring

An estimated 22 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, and 60 per cent of them are women. Southern Africa is the epicentre of the global epidemic. In this subregion, with the exception of Angola, adult national HIV prevalence rates are exceptionally high – about 15 per cent – compared with infection levels ranging between 2 and 6 per cent in eastern Africa. Most epidemics appear now to have become stabilized, though at very high levels in southern Africa, and in a growing number of countries adult HIV prevalence appears to be declining. The infection has a strong gender dimension, as young women are at greater risk of HIV infection than men as a result of biological, social and economic vulnerabilities.

In the last five years the dynamics of the infection have changed dramatically. Through the efforts of national governments, development partners, NGOs, the private sector and civil society, substantial progress has been made in addressing several aspects of HIV/AIDS. Today there is a greater level of awareness about the infection, improved access to voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) services, and steady growth in the number of people receiving anti-retroviral therapy (ART). “The availability of anti-retroviral drugs has changed perspectives about HIV/AIDS,” explains Clare Bishop-Sambrook, a gender, targeting and HIV/AIDS specialist who works with IFAD. “As a result, finding out that one is HIV-positive is no longer a death sentence and people have both the opportunity to continue to be economically active and the desire to live their lives to the full. This presents new opportunities for IFAD.”

In that context, in Eastern and Southern Africa IFAD is piloting a methodology developed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) that is showing promising results, particularly in addressing gender and HIV/AIDS issues. This methodology is currently being field tested through the Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project in Malawi, and through the District Livelihoods Support Programme in Uganda.

Known as the household mentoring methodology, it is a process by which adult members of households meet with a trained household mentor selected from the local community, on a regular basis over a period of one to two years. During these visits, household members are encouraged to openly discuss sensitive issues such as the resources available to them, opportunities to change traditional norms and gender roles, and personal problems. They then identify their needs and priorities in order to better mobilize their resources, as the first step towards improving their food security and generating an income. Over time, households form clusters together with about four of five other households, in order to build confidence and to gain exposure by participating in group-based activities. In the longer term they will be encouraged to associate with mainstream farmer groups, producer associations and savings and credit groups.

The approach is an inclusive one that stimulates all household members to develop ideas about their own vision and plan for the household. Indirectly, the mentoring process provides the context for addressing gender inequalities within the household as well as health-related issues such as HIV/AIDS.  “We noticed that it was particularly effective when discussing issues such as gender or AIDS, because it is discussed privately but openly within the household,” Bishop-Sambrook says. “It is effective because all adult household members (husband, wife and older children) participate in setting the household vision and planning how to achieve it together, and because together the household mobilizes its resources and shares the benefits.”

Household mentoring can also provide an entry point for HIV testing and accessing anti-retroviral drugs, as well as for home-based care if necessary. “One of the big challenges was to get people tested for HIV, especially men, who were more reluctant,” she adds. “With the vision of a household plan and the increasing availability of anti-retroviral drugs, it is easier to get people to go for testing.” Communities themselves are becoming more supportive of members on anti-retroviral drugs. People living with AIDS are no longer ostracized, but are given suitable jobs while undergoing therapy. “Some communities have been creative in finding appropriate ways of involving people living with AIDS. In community infrastructure projects in Malawi, for example, they are given less strenuous jobs, such as keeping the attendance register. In this way, they are still part of the community,” says Clare Bishop-Sambrook.

Household mentoring can help secure control over household assets by encouraging joint property ownership and written wills in favour of the spouse. This is not automatic in some cultures, where assets return to the family of a deceased spouse. It also encourages household members to decide on appropriate types of investments and coping strategies, such as the use of hired labour and technologies to reduce the strain of work, and more nutritious diets suitable for those living with HIV and AIDS.

The methodology has generated tremendous impact, not only in terms of increased food security and incomes, but also in terms of gender empowerment. As a result, a true change of mindset occurs in the household during the mentoring process, through which women and men members are empowered, which in turn triggers action for change.

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Eritrea: Howa’s story - a plot of land to feed the family


Howa Mahmud Haj


Since Eritrea won its war of independence from Ethiopia in 1991, women’s rights have improved significantly. Women had enrolled in the army and fought the war alongside their male counterparts. At the end of the war, the government passed laws granting women the right to vote, own land, work in the job of their choice and decide whom to marry. For urban women, Eritrea’s cities appear to be a beacon for women’s rights and a model for Africa.

But the situation is not so promising in rural areas, which remain among the poorest in the world and where the continued border conflict with Ethiopia has had a devastating effect on the economy. In many areas, women’s lives are proscribed by strongly ingrained traditions that prevent them from taking advantage of their rights. Many women are illiterate. They work in the fields but do not own land, which is controlled by men. They see it as natural that men make all decisions regarding their lives.

In Gash Barka, a vast, drought-prone region on the border between Sudan and Ethiopia, four out of ten families are headed by women as a result of the war. Up to 85 per cent of families are engaged in agriculture. Their priority is feeding their families, but they are extremely poor. About 10 per cent of economically active people are still serving in the army, a heavy burden for the country’s economy. “These are 10 per cent who are not producing extra food and ploughing the fields,” says Abla Benhammouche, IFAD’s country programme manager for Eritrea. “The war women are fighting today is a war against poverty.” In regions like Gash Barka, poverty is closely related to women’s status, as Howa Mahmud Haj’s story shows. 


Howa with her four children


Howa is a 29-year-old mother of four. To feed her family she sells tea once a week at a nearby market. “People here believe a woman should not go out and leave small children behind,” says Howa. “But I have to support my family, which is why I go to the market every Tuesday to sell tea. Even so, my neighbours gossip.” What she earns at the market is barely enough to feed her children. 

But that could change. An IFAD-supported irrigation project is now giving Howa an opportunity to grow food for her family. The scheme is turning more than 1,000 hectares of arid land into green, irrigated fields by building irrigation canals to capture water spilling down from nearby mountains during the rainy season. It has the potential to quadruple sorghum and millet yields.

So far, the challenge has been to find farmers to do the work. Howa would like to farm, but centuries-old traditions make it hard for her to do so. “To tackle this, we decided that 30 to 40 per cent of the land must be given to women in order to have a certain food security,” says Abla Benhammouche.

Howa got herself on the list for land. She believes a hectare would enable her to grow enough food to feed her family and have a surplus to sell in the local market. “It will not be easy,” Howa says. “I would have two workloads; the house and the land. I cannot be like a man who has a wife to take care of him.” In addition, Howa is faced with another dilemma: in her culture women are not permitted to plough land. To help her resolve her dilemma, the government will lend her money to pay a man to plough it for her, at least for the first year. “If I get land, I am prepared to farm it,” says Howa. “I am ready to do whatever it takes for my children.”  Howa has a long road ahead of her. She faces the physical challenge of starting to farm and the psychological challenge of breaking down gender barriers. But she is determined to take that path.

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Mozambique: Rural finance for women


A client of FDM, Maria Theresa Pereira runs a small business selling fabric.


The microfinance sector has attracted wide participation by women, even when they have not been specifically targeted by microfinance initiatives. In many countries, women have been quick to seize the opportunity to obtain a small loan to set up a microbusiness. As a result, microfinance services that specifically address women’s needs are emerging in a number of countries.

In Mozambique, the Fundo de Desenvolvimento Mulher (FDM), or Women’s Development Fund, was established in 2004. It grew out of a project promoting economic opportunities that was run by Save the Children, an NGO that remains a partner. After an uncertain start, FDM established itself as a microlender mainly to poor women.

“When FDM began to operate as an independent organization it did not look sustainable on paper,” explains Ana Maria Salvador, Managing Director of FDM. ”Investors and donors did not believe FDM would continue.”

Five years later, FDM has 2,335 members, 80 per cent of whom are women, and a total loan portfolio of US$469,000, which represents an average loan of about US$200 per member.

”FDM is not able to accept savings but can only lend money because it is not registered with the Central Bank of Mozambique for microcredit operation,” says Salvador. “Our clients have a compulsory savings scheme in their credit repayment, and that is the only form of savings we receive.” Part of FDM’s plan is to apply to the Central Bank for authorization to become a microbank and provide a full range of microcredit services. FDM is currently supported by IFAD’s Rural Finance Support Programme, which provides funds and technical assistance to help financial institutions provide financial services in remote rural areas. FDM operates in the provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane.

Customers are mainly poor women between 18 and 65 years of age. About 60 per cent of them live in rural areas and have an average income of US$150 a month, and about 40 per cent live in semi-urban areas and have an income of US$250. They run small enterprises or microbusinesses.


Theresa Adriano’s small general store has prospered thanks to a loan from FDM.


FDM’s main problem as a financing organization remains the question of how to raise funds to generate more loans. In 2006 FDM received a loan from the Mozambican Economic Development Support Fund (FARE) and in 2007 it received another from Kiva, an online microlending platform that connects individual lenders to individual borrowers. “In October 2008, FDM received another loan from FARE, and since then our customer base has continued to grow,” says Salvador. “In 2010 we will face a problem when new clients need new loans and when we need the capital to pay back FDM’s loan. At that stage, FDM will need to raise capital from international donors.”

In the future, FDM plans to keep expanding to reach more rural women. “We would like to become a microbank, to serve more rural customers, particularly women,” she says. The fund also counts on the fact that once it becomes a registered microbank, it will be able to build up savings.

A similar organization was set up in Rwanda in 2005, through the support of IFAD’s Rural Small and Micro Enterprise Project (PPPMER II), to improve access to finance, particularly for women in rural areas.

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Tanzania: a strong-willed mother strives to fight poverty


Upendo Mwambilila at her factory


Upendo Mwambilila, mother of two children – a 9 year-old daughter and a five-month-old boy –is a strong-willed woman entrepreneur who is becoming a role model not only in her hometown of Mbeya in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, but also in other regions across the country.

Upendo owns a factory that produces lime powder, a building material needed by construction industries. Basically, lime – a white, alkaline substance consisting of calcium oxide – is still produced by heating limestone in a furnace.

In Tanzania the production of lime powder from limestone has not changed much from the way it used to be in ancient times, unlike the ways other materials are produced, which have changed as a result of technological improvements.

The process is somewhat cumbersome and labour-intensive. For over four years now, despite all the difficulties, Upendo has managed to survive and build her business. But at one point she regretted leaving her previous job as a petty trader to start the lime factory.

Four years ago, when she started the new venture, Upendo did not have adequate capital. The lack of capital complicated matters and made it even harder to continue. "Life was really difficult,” she says. “Once I wanted to give up, but I kept telling myself that I shouldn’t give up hope as long as I was still alive.”


Upendo Mwambilila with Rashid Kejo, a journalist.


Upendo’s business has picked up. She can earn a gross income of up to TSh 5,250,000 (about US$4,375) per month in good times. Indeed, this is a good income, considering that the majority of Tanzanians live below the poverty line, on the equivalent of less than one dollar a day. Above all, despite the increasing level of unemployment across the country, Upendo’s lime factory has created employment opportunities for nine people.

What is the reason behind the success of this woman who was once a petty trader? It all started in 2006 when she joined a local savings and credit cooperative (SACCO) – the Kumekucha SACCO in Songwe, Mbeya.

The Kumekucha SACCO is one of many of the savings and credit societies established in Tanzania as a result of the work of the IFAD-supported Rural Financial Services Programme (RFSP). The programme started its work in Tanzania in January 2002.

"I successfully applied for a small loan of TSh 600,000 (about US$500) from the SACCO, and that was the beginning of my journey to this new venture," says Upendo, referring to the old adage that even a journey of 1,000 kilometres begins with just one step.

With this relatively small loan in her pocket, she kept working hard, using rented furnaces and machines. A year later, she applied for another loan, and this time she received double the initial amount from the same savings and credit society.

She used much of the loan to purchase her own machines, while she deposited some of the amount in her personal savings account. She planned to purchase a plot on which to build her own small lime grinding factory. And she has been able to implement her plan.

"Things started working well for me. Within a year I was able to pay back the loan,” says Upendo.
Having paid back the loan, Upendo borrowed again. The third time she obtained a loan of TSh 3 million. She bought a second machine and started producing her own packaging materials. She was able to further expand her operations.

With her own machinery and grinding mill, Upendo is set to make the factory really pay off, and only the sky seems to be her limit. "With my new machines, even the quality of my lime has significantly improved. And I am now able to produce my own packaging materials in a better way," says Upendo, showing well-packed sacks labeled “Nanyala Good Lime”.

Currently, she supplies lime to various construction companies in Mbeya and Iringa regions. Her success story is one of the many cases of how community savings and credit societies have helped improve the livelihoods of poor people engaging in small-scale businesses across the country.

Despite the fact that her factory needs logs as source of energy to burn limestone in the furnace, Upendo is conscious of the environment. She does not destroy natural forests but buys logs from the nearby planted forest of Umalila hills. And she engages in forestation initiatives in the area. She works with other members of the community to plant new trees to replace old ones. These are the fruits of the Kumekucha SACCO.

Upendo says she is planning to buy two vehicles for use in transporting her lime all over the region and beyond.

"I now intend to buy two vehicles – one will be used for the factory’s activities, especially distribution of produced goods, and the other is for my personal use to make it easier for me to move around,” she says. "I am very proud of my factory. For me, having these two vehicles is a dream that will soon come true.”

The Kumekucha SACCO, which has helped Upendo’s business to grow, has been helpful to many other people in the Songwe area who were previously living in extreme poverty. A significant number of businesses that started small have grown big and are now playing a key role in the country’s economic growth, thanks to the SACCOs’ cheap loans.

Many of the people who have benefited from this IFAD-supported initiative are farmers. Through such schemes they receive loans for various projects that enable them to obtain money for their children’s school fees and other needs. Some of these poor rural people have managed to build adequate houses.

"The SACCO has done extremely well, and many other savings and crfedit societies have been established. This provides healthy competition because at the end of the day what we all need is the development of our people," says Jacob Katembo, chairman of the SACCO. Working with the RFSP, the SACCOs train their members in various issues pertaining to the proper running of a business.

Upendo says some of the areas in which members of the SACCOs have been trained include basic financial management skills and issues related to gender and community development.

Because she has been able to pay back her loan, Upendo has made plans to take out additional loans for TSh 4 million to further expand her business.

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Kenya: how water, sanitation and hygiene issues affect public health and gender equity


A leaky tin is a simple tool to encourage children to wash their hands.


The IFAD-Belgian Survival Fund Joint Programme (IFAD/BSF.JP) provides grant funding to improve the lives of the most vulnerable populations in sub-Saharan Africa. The grants finance water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to prevent the incidence of common diseases such as diarrhoea, intestinal worms, skin infections and malaria.

Improved sanitation and hygiene practices are crucial to the prevention of most of these diseases. Yet all too often development projects focus only on improving domestic water supplies, with a limited impact on public health.

Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions also effectively address gender inequities. By improving family health and access to domestic water, they lighten women’s burden of domestic chores, enabling them to engage in more productive activities.

A recent gender assessment* of the Central Kenya Dry Area Smallholder and Community Services Development Project (CKDAP) investigated the impact of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions and their effect on gender roles and relations.

The CKDAP design

Effective from 2000 to 2011, the CKDAP aims to alleviate poverty in the semi-arid lands of central Kenya through an integrated approach that combines social with agricultural development. It integrates livestock and crop farming for agricultural development, and it integrates primary health care, sanitation and water supply for social development. At the time of project design, public health in the area was very poor. Households had little access to domestic water supplies and improved sanitation, and awareness of safe hygienic practices was low.

The CKDAP has addressed these issues by providing appropriate and context-specific domestic water supplies (through gravity piped schemes, shallow wells, spring protection and rainwater harvesting tanks). The project also provides for the formation and training of water management committees and the training of community health workers to promote improved hygiene and sanitation practices. Acknowledging the diverse water requirements of poor rural people, it designed water supplies to serve domestic, small livestock and kitchen gardening needs.

Impact of integrated water, sanitation and hygiene interventions

The incidence of diarrhoeal diseases, intestinal worms, skin conditions and malaria has decreased significantly, benefiting entire communities. This is a result of the adoption of improved sanitation and hygiene activities (such as use of dish racks, compost pits, water treatment and hand-washing) by men, women and children, and of the increased availability of water for personal hygiene. Women’s back problems have also decreased, since they no longer have to carry heavy jerry cans back and forth every day.

As a result of the promotion of water treatment by community health workers, increasingly women boil water for drinking purposes. The leaky tin for hand washing (see photo) is another effective tool, and it has been adopted in households, schools and health centres. The promotion of VIP latrines at household level has been less successful. Although latrines were demonstrated with success and are being used in key communal areas, the majority of the target beneficiaries have found them too expensive to build at home. But the promotion of VIP latrines has led some families to add a ventilation pipe to their basic latrines, which is a noteworthy step on the way to an improved latrine.

Before the CKDAP initiated water supply development activities, many children in the project area drowned in the river, either while collecting water or because they were left unattended. Estimates of the number of drowned children ranged from one per month to one per year. After investment in domestic water supplies was completed in 2005, no children have drowned – a dramatic improvement.

Reduced drudgery. Collecting water from within the homestead or from a nearby and abundant source such as a spring tap saves time and effort, leading to significant benefits for women and children. Women can spend more time and effort on other activities such as working at casual labour or in the fields, watering livestock, irrigating kitchen gardens or keeping their houses and surroundings clean. In addition, women have more time to cook meals at home and care for their children, with the result that family relationships are reportedly more harmonious. Before the existence of the new water supplies, children collected water before and after attending school. Now they do not have to walk so far to fetch water or there is no need for them to do so, and they have more time for homework, domestic chores and play.

Improved productivity. With more water available as a result of the new water supplies, many villagers have  developed small-scale productive activities in households and on communal plots of land. Some women have upgraded their livestock. For instance, the local zebu goat has been replaced by better breeds that produce more milk. Some farmers have engaged in poultry production, which was difficult previously because of the lack of a reliable water supply. Women and men use the additional available water for their kitchen gardens and communal plots of land, which produce a higher yield and more varied vegetables, contributing to improved nutrition.

A practical example


Marion Wanja has benefited from a project that brought piped water to her village.


Marion Wanja (see photo) has saved a considerable amount of time thanks to the Rukanga piped water project funded by the CKDAP. She was a casual labourer, and before the project made water more readily available she spent two to three hours every day fetching water, making several trips to the river. Now she lives near the water project office and buys water from the kiosk a few metres away. In the time she saved she did extra paid work and, with her husband’s help, she saved enough money to establish a shop in 2008, where she makes and sells samosas and manduzi (sweet fried pastry). Her neighbours enjoy the snacks, and they admire her because she is becoming rich!

The findings of the IFAD/BSF.JP gender assessment of the CKDAP clearly show the value of an integrated approach to water, sanitation and hygiene interventions with the aim of improving public health and reducing the drudgery of daily water collection. This type of approach also creates a sound basis for the engagement of poor rural people, particularly women, in productive activities, and contributes to improving both household nutrition and income.

The IFAD/BSF.JP is currently undertaking a gender assessment of its social interventions in Kenya, Mozambique and Niger. The main objectives are to:

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News and events

Grants, loans and COSOPs approved by the Executive Board, April 2009

Country loans and grants

AECF: A US$200,000 grant to Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) – Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa – to promote pro-poor growth in Africa by increasing employment, livelihood opportunities and incomes, and by reducing poverty.

AFFM: African Fertilizer Financing Mechanism (AFFM) – African Development Bank – US$200,000 grant to assist farmers, especially small-scale farmers, to increase agricultural productivity and food production to reduce hunger and combat poverty. The objectives are to:

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Grants, loans and COSOPs to be approved by the Executive Board, September 2009

Country loans and grants

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