Women’s Empowerment in the Western Cluster, Zambia
Misean Cara recently conducted an evaluation of Women’s Empowerment in Agricultural Settings. The Western Cluster project in Zambia was selected to be included. The Western Cluster project was established in 2016 in the Western Province in Zambia, an area with immense social problems, where three out of every four people live in extreme poverty. Since 2016 the project has supported more than 4,000 beneficiaries, the majority being women and girls. The current phase of the project supports 880 direct beneficiaries through empowering trainings, provision of agricultural inputs, education on irrigation, and access to clean water.
The evaluators and Misean Cara gave very positive feedback. It was particularly noted that women have been actively involved in all aspects of the project through their participation in the Project Committee. Women have played key roles in project implementation, from assessment of community needs, planning and monitoring, and advocacy on challenges faced by their communities.
The evaluation commended the project sustainability. There is real ownership of the project within the community and activities are expected to continue beyond the project life-cycle. An integrated, participative, rights-based approach builds the capacity of women in entrepreneurship and sustainable development. Additionally, there is economic empowerment through the provision of treadle pumps, livestock and farming inputs and women’s participation in community savings groups. These initiatives all contribute towards long time change in their lives.
‘Before joining the western cluster project I used to suffer because of lack of money to buy seed and fertilizer and I was planting my maize without applying fertilizer that resulted in me harvesting 5 bags of maize. However, since I joined this project I was supported with seed and fertilizer, I managed to harvest 20 bags of maize. I feel good because now I am able to send all my children to school, than before when only 3 were going to school. The other 2 children were remaining home due to lack of finances.’ - Female Beneficiary
‘I have been supported with chickens, seed, 10 kg fertilizer, pesticide 2 bottles and a treadle pump that we are sharing among 4 beneficiaries, then trained on how to plant seed, how to apply fertilizer by the agricultural officer, my life has changed completely just look at my garden. I have joined the Saving community club because I’m able to save and pay school fees for my children, buy food for my family.’ - Female Beneficiary
The Western Cluster project is part of the larger Journeying Together programme — an Edmund Rice Mission initiative to work and live in the margins of society, maintain a compassion presence and walk in solidarity with the people they serve. The Journeying Together programme acts as a catalyst in a community so that people may realise their own power, resilience and talent.