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Strengthening of Women-led Organizations to fight climate change in Burundi rural areas

Strengthening women in responding and adapting to climate change, making use of their local knowledge and leadership in resource management.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Climate change (CC) is not neutral. Disadvantaged groups are reliant on climate-sensitive livelihoods, making them more vulnerable to it. Among the poorest populations, women in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to it, being highly dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods. Burundi has one of the highest rates of population growth in Africa as well as one of the highest density per Km2. More than 90% of the population depends on agriculture for livelihoods and more than 90% of rural households use firewood for cooking and heating, resulting in degradation of forests (for firewood/clearing areas for cultivation).According to UNDP, forests in Burundi could completely disappear in 25 years. The project idea in the long-run is to strengthen Women-led Organizations (WLOs) to take action against CC and deforestation, creating more income for their families and collaborative spaces within the whole community. First, we will test our approach through a pilot with a WLO and in a restricted geographical area. The core activity is the training of women to build improved stoves, reducing the use of firewood by up to 60% and their workload as well (less time seeking wood). The WLO will also lead the creation of common gardens in each community, where neighbors will have the opportunity to work together and test new approaches of Climate Smart Agriculture (more efficient in terms of yield and thus necessitating less land) and to find ways of valorising local products (banana fibres, waste-made briquettes…) also exploitable by women as income generating activities. The gardens will be used to grow easily storable products to create foodbanks for the hunger gaps. Under the WLO leadership, men and women will be sensitized on how CC affects them and the importance of reducing its effects for future generations’ wellbeing. A baseline study will be realised at the project beginning (communities' knowledge about CC; families wood consumption; soils productivty)

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The project direct beneficiaries are 300 women and 150 men from rural communities, living under the poverty line (1.25$/day), willing to experiment new agricultural techniques and interested in participating to new activities. At least 50% of them will be young persons (<25 y.o.). Women will be trained to build and use improved stoves and to find opportunities for the economical valorisation of local resources (fibres, waste, etc.). Men and women will be trained on Climate Smart Agriculture techniques: rationalized use of water, setting-up bee-hives, production of local and organic fertilisers, reduce the impact of climate-related catastrophic events etc. Their families (2250 people, 5 members per family) will benefit from the creation of a food bank to cover the hunger gaps (currently 2.6 M people are food insecure in Burundi). The whole community will be trained on how CC affects their lives and the importance of reducing its effects for the well-being of future generations.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Despite being extremely important, the link between climate change and gender has not yet been fully explored in Burundi. To our knowledge, no WLO is specifically focusing on this thematic, probably because this kind of pilot project are hard to fund and WLO in Burundi are generally small. Both the Burundian government and the UNDP started projects of improved stoves for the rural communities. But the simple reduction of workload for women is not a sufficient incentive to make this solution widely adopted if it leads to the loss of socializing moments for women (seeking wood and cooking together), as expressed by beneficiaries during previous experiences in African countries. This project has the advantage of involving WLO since the project’s design and start-up and to explain the causes behind the project’s actions to the whole community. If concepts are correctly presented, women and, more generally, parents are sensible to the kind of future they can leave for their children.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Oxfam in Burundi primarily supports local Civil Society Organizations instead of implementing projects directly. We will work with a women-led organization, yet to be selected, which will be the project’s implementer, and one Oxfam Project Officer and Financial Officer will be assigned to the project to monitor the activities’ implementation and for the partner’s backstopping.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Oxfam in Burundi is engaged in working with women and for women. We want to support WLOs in exploiting the benefits and synergies deriving from working together. The CC’s effects are more and more visible to agriculture, severely affecting food security: hailstorms, droughts, floods are no more exceptional events. We believe that women can (and do) play a critical role in response to CC due to their knowledge of local resource and leading sustainable practices at household and community level.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Prosperity has been hindered by decades of political unrest and ethnic conflict. Violence and insecurity do not allow economic initiative to develop and subsistence farming represents 85% of the total product. Prosperity has also been affected by the population composition. Burundians are very young: 64% of them are less than 25 years old. Young people and women have traditionally few power over the resources they depend on for their livelihoods and they have few spaces to express themselves. Mostly men own the lands and women cannot inherit. Planet has been affected by the rapid growth of the population as well as by CC. Burundi has one of the highest rates of population growth in Africa and more than 90% of the population depends on agriculture for livelihoods. This leads to an indiscriminate use of natural resources, which - combined with climate change-related events (floods, droughts) – further worsens their situation (soils acidification, water contamination, deforestation, etc.)

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Oxfam in Burundi primarily supports local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) instead of implementing projects directly, closely working with them towards their empowerment and their financial and organisational autonomy. If a partnership is successful, Oxfam will renew it through successive projects and until the CSO needs support. For the present pilot project, a Women-led Organisation (WLO) will be selected to implement it; according to the needs of the population it is serving and its willingness to participate, as well as thanks to a partnership’s evaluation tool developed by Oxfam, called RAMON. The WLO will be in charge of the project’s realisation and Oxfam will be there to support it and provide backstopping when needed. At the pilot phase’s end, an evaluation of the partnership’s realisations will be conducted and, if positive, a second phase will be planned with the same WLO.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Despite the climate of insecurity due to political and social unrest, Burundian civil society is eager to participate and CSOs are active, albeit young. Because of women’s lack of power in the traditional Burundian society, WLO are particularly in need of support to grow and to find funds to realise their projects. Moreover, when adequately supported, women in rural settlements have a great amount of knowledge about natural resources’ management to share within and outside their community.

Geographic Focus

Rural communities in Burundi, the specific zone will depend on the selected WLO intervention's area.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We foresee 24 months of implementation for the pilot project. 4 months at the beginning for the baseline study and the selection and training of the WLO, 18 months of activities’ implementation and 2 months at the end for evaluation and preparation of the second phase.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Céline null

yes, girl power!

Photo of David Ezra Jay

I second that :) I firmly believe that empowering the women is the answer 97% of the problems.

If your ventures find women planting trees GreenStand is creating an employment platform. One of my favorite parts about our platform is that by paying directly to sim cards (often tied up in women's robe) we can create an "invisible income" that women can hide from often less responsible counterparts.

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