Equitable access to climate-related information and adaptation tools for women farmers
In rural Kenya, the agricultural sector employs up to 70 per cent of the population. These regions are very vulnerable to climate change. However, few farmers have access to the online and digital resources needed to mitigate the climate challenges. This IKI Small Grants project addresses this challenge by leveraging local, proven, and easy-to-use SMS and other mobile phone-based techniques to deliver climate information and adaptation resources for women farmers. This considers the digital gender divide. Women of the area hardly use smartphones, but mobile phones are widespread. The mobile-based information includes real-time weather forecasts, seasonal climate hazard forecasts, agricultural adaptation strategies, climate risk assessment tools, and climate finance opportunities. It also provides up-to-date trade and market information. The project enhances accessibility of information to farmers in a simplified and multilingual format that is free to access for maximum social impact.
Rural regions in Kenya are extremely vulnerable to climate change. The rainfall in Kenya is highly variable and projected to increase in volatility, which increases the risk of heavy rain and extended periods of drought destroying local crops. In the past century, 28 major droughts have been recorded, with increasing frequency and severity. While public agronomy service delivery to rural areas already faces challenges, the volatile impact of climate change is increasing the challenges to sustainable agricultural crops and livestock livelihoods. The project targets five counties in Kenya across western and rift valley regions which are part of the main food basket region in the country. The counties include Homabay, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, and Vihiga.
This IKI Small Grants project targets low-income and vulnerable women in Kenya’s agricultural sector. Many of these women face obstacles in accessing relevant and accurate climate adaptation resources. According to a survey of 300 women farmers in Kenya’s rural Bungoma region, 10 per cent reported access to a smartphone, and only 3 per cent used smartphone apps. This digital gender divide faced by women farmers creates pernicious barriers to climate adaptation tools. The direct beneficiaries are 500 women farmers who will be trained through workshops. Moreover, 15,000 indirect new users are addressed through radio ad campaigns in the project counties.
APPROACH AND ACTIVITIES
The project improves the adaptability of women farmers to climate change by leveraging local and easy-to-use USSD/SMS-based platforms to deliver climate-related information and adaptation tools. The users dial the short code *716# and navigate through a numbered menu of options using any kind of phone. Thus, smartphones and the internet are not required to access the platform. The obtained mobile-based information includes real-time weather forecasts, seasonal climate hazards, agricultural adaptation strategies, climate risk management tools, climate finance opportunities, and up-to-date trade as well as market information. All the information is provided for free and translated into several local languages.
The project activities include a baseline needs assessment of women smallholder farmers in Kenya. Further, developing partnerships with organisations providing agro-climatology and climate adaptation information, and aggregating a database. After testing and launching the climate adaptation SMS/USSD agro-climatology information platform, marketing and sensitisation activities are followed. Additionally, direct training is provided to the community leaders in the five counties and radio campaigns are created. The platform will continue to operate beyond the project duration and can easily be replicated.
LATEST PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND IMPACTS
- Climate-related information needs assessment of women smallholder farmers conducted.
- Data from the needs assessment data analysed and report produced
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
Sauti, meaning voice in Swahili, is a women-led social enterprise combining development research and technology solutions to address the digital information gaps facing women working in agricultural value-chains. Since 2017, the mission is to empower East African women farmers and traders who face digital challenges to access information to build sustainable community livelihoods. The organisation’s regional presence is operational in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania. They have established strong partnerships and networks through government agencies and civil society organizations such as PROFEMMES in Rwanda and East Africa Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP) in Tanzania respectively.
PRESS AND MEDIA COVERAGE
Here you can find the report “CLIMATE INFORMATION AND KENYA’S WOMEN SMALLHOLDER
FARMERS: A NEEDS ASSESSMENT” published in january 2024 copyright by Sauti East Africa.