Rural women - an inspiration
Collecting water is a daily chore for the majority of women in rural dryland Africa. They spend 6-12 hours a day walking and queuing for water. It's backbreaking work.
Women in the Star ya Thange self-help group preparing their land for the planting season. It's hard work but with help from their sand dam and improved seeds they had a bumper harvest last year!
Janet Muendo of the Muuo Wa Methovini self-help group looks forward to planting her improved sorghum seeds.
Lois (right) is one of the most cheerful self-help-group members. She is a member of the Muuo wa Kuomoni group, who went from subsistence farming to creating a surplus in the space of just one year.
Joyce Kilundo is a member of the Kakai self-help group. Building a sand dam has made a big difference to her. “I have four children. The health of my children is going to change because now they have good food to eat."
Just like her mother and grandmother, Mary Ndulu used to walk 13km to the Athi River every day to collect water. Now, with water close by, she is spending her time growing food for her family.
Kakewa Kaindi is well into her 70s. She has shouldered the burden of water collection all her life. Her age didn't stop her from joining the Muuo wa Kiumoni self-help group to build several sand dams since 2011.
Women in rural drylands make a vital contribution to agricultural and rural development. They help to improve food security and alleviate rural poverty. They do all this despite the incredible disadvantages they face.
Limited access to credit, health care, land and education are among the many challenges they have to contend with, further aggravated by global food and economic instability and climate change.
At Excellent Development we are well aware of the important role of women in rural drylands. More than half of self-help group members we work with are women. They are often the ones left to farm the family plot, while men migrate to towns and cities to find employment.
Combined with the burden of collecting water for many hours every day, their lives can be incredibly tough. Despite this exhausting work, many women have taken on leadership roles in the self-help-groups we support to make their voices heard.
We’ve had the pleasure of working with many of these inspiring women, and support them to free themselves from the burden of collecting water to take charge of their own futures.
Scroll through the slide show at the top to meet some of them.
We looked at ourselves as women and asked ourselves how we were going to manage terracing which required energy. We thought that we could not make it. Today we have became experts in trenching and clearly count the benefits. The terraces we have dug in our farms have positively impacted our food production.
A member of the Kevanda Women's group, southeast Kenya
Did you know?
If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, there would be 150 million fewer hungry people in the world.