The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and UN Women have formally kicked off a US$7 million project funded by the Korea International Corporation Agency (KOICA).
The four year project will strengthen women’s capacity to meaningfully engage in Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) in three of Kenya’s counties Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) counties: Laikipia, West Pokot and Kitui.
“We recognize that food security starts and ends with women, who account for 60-75 percent of the labour force in smallholder agriculture in Kenya, as well as in many other countries in Africa. It is therefore very crucial to leave no one behind in the quest to attaining food and nutrition security for all,” said The FAO representative to Kenya Mrs Carla Mucavi during the launch event.
The project seeks to promote an approach to agricultural transformation in a changing climate in Kenya’s ASAL areas that ensures gender-sensitive responses to climate change and to resilience building.
Within the four year period the project will increase the technical know-how of farmers on CSA approaches, unlock market driven value-chains for women and improve their capacity to participate in productive land and water management, as well as increase the women in agribusiness’ access to finance.
“Women’s economic empowerment is central to achieving gender equality,” said Anna Mutavati, UN Women Country Representative to Kenya. “It is therefore paramount, in a country where women feature so heavily in the agriculture sector, that related programmes are responsive to gender. Women are disproportionately affected by overlapping challenges of poverty and food insecurity caused by floods, droughts, locusts and now COVID. Incorporating climate smart approaches will contribute to building women’s resilience, self-reliance and economic security.”
In Kenya, women account for 75% of the labor force in smallholder agriculture, manage 40% of small farms, and play a major role in food preparation and storage. However, women already face multiple structural challenges: even though they are the main producers of food, women in agriculture own fewer assets and have access to less land, fewer inputs, and fewer financial and extension services than men, limiting their rights, potential, and well-being, as well as their capacities to build climate resilience.
The Food and Agriculture Organization is working in collaboration with UN Women in this project as a strategic partnership to realise the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that focus on gender equality (SDG 5), zero hunger (SDG 2), no poverty (SDG 1) and climate action (SDG 13) among many other national, regional and global goals.
Evidence shows that adoption of CSA practices significantly mitigate the frequent climate shocks smallholder farmers encounter during droughts and floods, and in times of food and pasture scarcity.
“This CSA project will ensure the 2,400 beneficiary – which include both women and men – will achieve economic progress that will sustain beyond the project, with impact-orientated activities and monitoring. KOICA supports agriculture and food security, among other areas, with the aim of reflecting Korea’s comparative advantage, while at the same time corresponding to the SDGs, as well as the priority for the development of our partner countries. Especially, KOICA Kenya strives to establish a sustainable basis of food value chain; improve people’s living environment; and push forward with inclusive and sustainable regional development in a bid to improve the welfare of the rural community in Kenya.”
– H.E Choi Yeonghan, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Kenya
Agricultural production remains the main source of income for most rural communities, and the increased risk of crop and livestock production failure, associated with increased frequency of extreme climate events, poses a major threat to food security and poverty reduction.
Adaptation of the agricultural sector to the adverse effects of climate change is an important priority, to protect and improve the livelihoods of the poor and to ensure food security. With little resilience to climatic changes, economic and social shocks, smallholder farmers in ASAL counties have become extremely vulnerable to food insecurity. In addition to that, climate change increases uncertainty as many households are unaware of the fast-changing environment.