The effects of climate change such as prolonged droughts and unreliable weather patterns adversely impact smallholder coffee growing farmers in Uganda. To mitigate this, the three active Feed the Future Alliance for Resilient Coffee (ARC) consortium partners in the country; Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS), International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and World Coffee Research have joined forces to implement various climate interventions. These include; trainings on climate-smart practices, setting up of demonstration plots for research and educational purposes and other undertakings. ARC is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the U.S. Government’s food security initiative, Feed the Future  and is made up of seven consortium members.

As women do up to 70% of the agricultural work on farms, their participation in trainings on climate-smart practices is essential. It is also important that women actively participate in farmer organizations and cooperatives which offer various services to their members including; savings schemes, loans, bulking, market access etc. However, due to their heavier workloads and various gender inequalities, women find it difficult to attend trainings and are rarely given leadership opportunities within farmer organizations and cooperatives. To address this, ARC endeavored to integrate gender into its climate interventions.

Ketra, a female farmer in Luwero who has received ARC’s trainings on climate-smart practices and gender

Members of Bakyabumba Cooperative who have received gender sensitization trainings though ARC

Using HRNS’ gender household approach, the ARC projects Gender Expert, Fortunate Paska, designed and conducted several gender training sessions in Luwero and Ntungamo to sensitize cooperative leaders and farmer extensionists (farmers who train other farmers.)  The participants were engaged in activities and discussions about gender inequalities that inhibit women from getting involved in climate-smart adaptation trainings and farmer organizations. Paska explained how the gender trainings support the implementation of climate-smart practices saying:

“Couples are supported to formulate strategies for their households and encouraged to jointly plan how to spend their income from coffee. Many of the household plans include investments in climate-smart practices like mulch, fertilizer and pesticides as well as climate-smart technologies such as water harvesting tanks for irrigation and domestic use. Men have also been encouraged to share in the burden of domestic chores and this frees up women to have more time to attend climate adaptation trainings.”

Fortunate Paska training members of Bakyabumba Cooperative

Ketra Nakimuli who is a female leader in Bakyabumba Cooperative (Secretary of Finance) also expressed the value of the gender trainings for her cooperative saying; “I haven’t encountered any big issues working with the men in our cooperative including the chairman.” Ketra formulated a household plan and has begun implementing it. Through the ARC project, she was supported to construct a water harvesting well for irrigation of her coffee. She now plans to purchase a domestic water harvesting tank. The vision she has for her household has restored her hopes for the future which seemed bleak after she lost her husband. Because of all the support she has received from ARC, Ketra implores that there is need to continue the gender trainings throughout the community.

“We need the gender trainings to reach more farmers and households here in Luwero. More trainings will increase women participation and the men will not prevent women from engaging in farmer organizations,”  Ketra stated.

Ketra proudly displaying her household plan made during the ARC gender trainings

Ketra fetching water from her water harvesting well to irrigate her coffee

Since it’s insurgence, COVID-19 has further illuminated the urgent need to scale up climate interventions for smallholder coffee farmers in Uganda. The pandemic has made it even more difficult for farmers to access agriculture inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides which are essential to strengthen their coffee’s resilience to climate change. Additionally, many of the ARC projects trainings have had to be postponed to adhere to social distancing laws. Despite this, some activities continue to be supported remotely as much as possible and now more than ever before, the ARC partners are committed to finding solutions for Ugandan farmers in order to strengthen their resilience to the impacts of climate change and improve their livelihoods.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Alliance for Resilient Coffee’s gender interventions: