Sudan: Women Farmers Unite

The Problemc. Zenab

Rural women in Sudan face overlapping crises of poverty, environmental degradation and discrimination. Many are struggling to provide enough food to keep their families from starving.

The effects of global climate change wreak havoc in Sudan, where intermittent droughts and floods are destroying crops and making farmers’ traditional knowledge obsolete.

Many of these farmers are women, who grow and harvest the majority of their families’ food. Yet, the government's farm aid programs traditionally exclude women, denying them credit and agricultural inputs, such as seeds and fertilizer.

Because of climate change and gender discrimination, new generations are forced to abandon their farming way of life. 

The Solution

MADRE supports 5,000 women farmers so that they can grow the food their families need to survive and encourage young women to become farmers.

Unlike emergency food aid, Women Farmers Unite gives women the tools, resources and technical assistance they need to sustain their families for the long haul. The program, conducted with MADRE’s Sudanese partner organization Zenab for Women in Development, provides women farmers with seeds and supplies, including plows and a tractor. The program’s special focus on young women helps ensure their generation continues to provide a local, sustainable food supply.

Along with agricultural extension services, we provide:

  • human rights trainings to women farmers on topics such as reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, peace building and political participation.
  • material goods such as eyeglasses and medical supplies in order to strengthen women farmers’ health and their ability to provide for their families and communities.
  • education programs that promote literacy and computing skills, along with access to a small IT center.
  • trainings to help women farmers adapt to climate change by teaching them about new weather patterns, providing instruction on how to adjust soil preparation, planting and harvesting accordingly, and how to harvest rain water and dig shallow wells in villages.
    MADRE and Zenab have also partnered to build awareness about climate change’s impact on women farmers through advocacy campaigns at the United Nations.

The Results

  • Women gain the resources they need to grow and produce food, alleviating hunger, improving health and nutrition, and fueling local economies.
  • By working together to grow crops, participants build a network of women farmers who share resources and boost their economic status. Elder women transmit skills and lessons to younger women.
  • The women’s improved economic status and organizing skills enhance their decision-making power within their communities and their capacity to demand human rights for themselves and their children.
  • Women farmers have increased their agricultural yields, enabling them to boost food security and generate income from surplus crops.
  • Women have pooled their income to invest in local development projects that build the long-term sustainability of their farming communities. For instance, in the area of Gungulisa, members of the union refurbished an adult education center for women. In Waddaed, women farmers worked together to bring electricity to their communities.
  • Many participants are using their increased incomes to pay for their daughters’ educations, breaking the cycle of poverty and increasing the chances for further political, economic and social empowerment.

Photo Credit: Zenab