41 FAO Dimitra Clubs for improved food security and nutrition

A community-driven approach to empower rural women and men. Experiences from the field in sub-Saharan Africa

Organizers

  • Kingdom of Belgium
  • European Union Delegation
  • FAO

Abstract

The Side-Event will present FAO Dimitra Clubs, a people-centered communication approach which has proved to be successful for engaging rural women and men in their own development, including in the areas of food security and nutrition.  It will bring together experts from sub-Saharan Africa to share the achievements of the Dimitra Clubs at country and regional levels and show videos of results in the areas of food security and nutrition.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Welcoming remarks by Ms Junko Sazaki, Director, Social Policies and Rural Institutions Division, FAO  
  • Address by Mr Jan Tombiński, Ambassador and EU Permanent Representative to the UN Organisations in Rome    
  • Special opening remarks by Ms Birgit Stevens, Minister Counsellor and Alternate Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN Agencies in Rome

Panel Discussion:

  • Ms Julie Nyolo Love, National Coordinator FAO Dimitra Clubs, Democratic Republic of the Congo: The use of Dimitra Clubs in FAO programmes on nutrition, gender and resilience in the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Mr Ali Abdoulaye, FAO Regional Coordinator of the Dimitra Clubs for the Sahelian countries: The Dimitra Clubs for food security, social protection and climate change adaptation in the Sahel region
  • Ms Christiane Monsieur, FAO Dimitra Coordinator: Ten years of FAO Dimitra Clubs in sub-Saharan Africa: impact and lessons learned
  • Discussion moderated by Ms Lourdes Magana De Larriva, Adviser to the EU Delegation and Co-Chair of the Network for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment of the Permanent Representatives of the UN Agencies in Rome
  • Closing remarks by Ms Marcela Villarreal, Director, Partnerships and South-South Cooperation, FAO

Summary

Nutrition, social protection, food security, women’s empowerment, collective action, social cohesion and community mobilization.

Dimitra is a flagship project of FAO. One of the main innovations developed by the project are the Dimitra Clubs, a community-driven approach to empower rural women and men.

There are over 2 000 Dimitra Clubs accounting for about 60 000 members (60% being women) in 6 countries of sub-Saharan Africa (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Senegal). It is estimated that more than 1.6 million people benefit from the achievements obtained by the clubs.

The impact of Dimitra Clubs has been assessed in many different areas, including food security and nutrition, gender equality, social and economic empowerment, women’s and youth’s leadership and entrepreneurship as well as inclusive use of ICTs, social cohesion, resilience, adaptation to climate change, and gender-based violence.

In DR Congo, the Dimitra Clubs are integrated in various joint initiatives with many development partners (WFP-P4P, IFAD, EU, UNICEF, Caritas, African Solidarity Trust Fund). The dynamic nature of the Clubs is so vibrant that whenever they have been created, many more have been generated autonomously by the communities themselves. As part of the Joint Programme against gender-based violence - EU, UNICEF, FAO, the Dimitra Clubs have raised awareness of men and women to encourage young girls, victims of GBV, to regain their dignity by being accepted by their community and by going back to school. In the fight against malnutrition and food insecurity, the activities of the clubs have gradually helped dismantle food taboos that impeded women to eat rich-protein food easily found locally.     

In Niger, in rural isolated villages where access to services and resources is extremely scant, the Dimitra Clubs have organized to build water points using their own resources and capacities. These initiatives have allowed communities to access water, reduce women’s work time burden and strengthen their resilience. In a country where access to land is particularly difficult for women, the Dimitra Clubs have enabled women’s long-term access to land through community mobilization initiatives. This change has been possible because every member of the community benefits from and participates in the process. Thanks to the clubs, women gain the self-confidence they need to speak up and raise their concerns within the clubs and during village meetings.

Belgium and EU encourage the promotion of approaches like the FAO Dimitra Clubs to achieve the SDGs (particularly SDG 1, 2 and 5) and to promote human development.

FAO’s role is crucial to ensure the implementation of activities such as capacity development at various levels, advocacy, scaling-up and adaptation of the approach, south-south cooperation, networking and partnerships as well as monitoring and evaluation and quality check processes.

At the end of the event, a call was made to donors and technical units to support the Dimitra Clubs due to their consolidated experience, numerous impact and cost-effectiveness. 

Key outcomes/take away messages

  • Providing only technical, economic and financial services to the poorest is not enough to fight hunger and poverty. It is also necessary to focus on social capital and human development to ensure no one is left behind.
  • Innovative practical empowerment methodologies need to be used by promoting participatory communication and collective action and by giving a voice to the most excluded. This is part of a people-centered strategy to improve rural people’s livelihoods and boost rural transformation.
  • The FAO Dimitra Clubs are a good practice in terms of gender equality, people’s empowerment, women’s leadership and social mobilization. They trigger social, economic and political transformations in rural areas.
Side Event - 41 -  FAO Dimitra Clubs for improved food security and nutrition