Using Functional Literacy and Value Addition as Tools for Economic Empowerment and Effective Participation of Rural Women

CEEWA-Uganda received a one year grant from Global Fund for Women to support using functional literacy (FAL) and value addition as a tools for economic empowerment and effective participation of rural women. This project is phase 2/continuation of phase 1 “empowering rural women farmers for improved livelihood” project which was also funded by GFW in 2011-2012.

Overview

CEEWA-Uganda received a one year grant from Global Fund for Women to support using functional literacy (FAL) and value addition as a tools for economic empowerment and effective participation of rural women. This project is phase 2/continuation of phase 1 “empowering rural women farmers for improved livelihood” project which was also funded by GFW in 2011-2012. The project is working with 4 women groups; Kangulumira Women Entrepreneurs Development Association, Mukunganya Women’s group in Kayunga district and Living Hope women’s group,as well as Stefano’s Group in Buikwe district.

The project began in August 2014 and has since carried out the following activities;

i. A base line survey in the target districts.

The objectives of the baseline survey included; identifying and selecting beneficiaries in need of FAL trainings, to determine the availability of FAL opportunities in the target districts and identify the main economic activities of these beneficiaries for possible value addition. The survey covered 143 respondents and only 15 were male. Designed survey tools were used in the data collection and these included; Individual interviews, group interviews and Interviews with the Community Development Officers of each district. Survey findings showed that FAL trainings were on going in both districts and was being implemented as a government programme and all members could access it after registering. Members interested in this training were encouraged to register for it at the sub-county government offices. The survey also identified the current group activities that the project would focus on during the planned trainings.

ii. Training of women groups in business skills development and management.

Objective: To enhance entrepreneurship/business management skills among women groups in Kayunga and Buikwe districts. The training had a total of 60 participants 53 females, 7 males and it was a 3 days training for each district. 13 The training in Business planning skill and management was to greatly contribute to the women developing sustainable businesses and able them to compete in the growing market. After this training the women were expected to apply their newly acquired skills into their respective enterprises. In addition, there were also to come up with new business ventures so as to increase their incomes and thereby contribute to their economic empowerment. The project is yet to carry out follow-ups on the progress of the groups to assess the effects of the training.

iii. Contact visit to Makerere University Faculty of Food and Science.

Objective: Identify networking channels for rural women farmers with the institution. The project required identifying possible technical bodies that help the women farmers improve their income generating activities and also to network.

  • The institute offers short modular training opportunities to upcoming small and medium enterprise in value addition. Having been given a tour and introduction to the workings of the institution, there were limitations for the rural farmers possibly networking with the institution and they include;
  • The institution prefers to train persons with at least an Ordinary level qualification yet most the beneficiaries do not have the qualification.
  • The institution does not allow exposure visits for the public.
  •  The institution does conduct trainings only during university student holidays. The project plans on visiting other institutions like the Uganda industrial research institute which also offer trainings and exposure visits to the public and also identify their networking channels.

iv. Monitoring and Support Supervision visit.

Objective: To assess progress of activities within the women groups. The project carried out a support visit to the women groups to evaluate the progress of the group activities, the challenges they are facing and possible way forward for the groups. In the business aspect of the group, it was realized that some women were still incubating possible new business ideas and while other groups were facing challenges in deciding their way forward due to the dynamics within the groups.

It was noted that some of the women have started to venture in side businesses like beauty salons, small retail shops, and poultry as individuals aside of agriculture and contributing to group activities. The support visit helped identify the challenges that affect the women in their agricultural and business development.

Challenges notably identified included;

  •  Inadequate farm inputs such as pesticides, quality seeds and machinery.
  • Limited markets for the farmers’ produce.
  •  High transport costs.

The project will be addressing some of these issues through trainings, support/monitoring visits and sensitization meeting which will take place as the project progresses.

Achievements:

 This phase enhanced economic performance of women. Some of the members in this project had benefited from GFW phase 1 and they gave testimonies.

 Beneficiary testimonies “After the exposure and engagement with CEEWA-Uganda, I had to make sure that I got a new breed of pigs from NAADS which produced 11 piglets and each was sold at shs 70,000=, giving me a total shs 770,000= from the piglets. Each year the pig produced 3 times which gave me a gross income of shs 2,310,000 =per year from pigs only. I was able to pay school fees for our child who was joining university using money from the pig project. I also hosted visitors and friends from in and outside Uganda as they were referred to our place to come and learn from my experience with pig rearing and this was a result of hard work and applying the knowledge I had received”.

“I learnt how to use a small plot of land for cultivating various crops, mainly food crops. Many people in my community come to seek advice on how they can improve because I am earning income from my small plot of land through selling agricultural products”.

Challenges

The project has not encountered major challenges that would deter its progress; however there are a few that have been noticed during the project implementation;

  • High expectations from the women groups. The women expect tangible support in terms of monetary help, farming inputs such as machines, seeds, pesticides among others.
  •  Low project budget. The budget is constrained and as the project progresses, there are new developments that need to be addressed but cannot be.

The project work plan implementation is still ongoing and we will continue to engage women and other stakeholders through various activities thus contributing to the economic empowerment of the rural women for their improved livelihoods.