Posted September 1996
FAO Regional Office for Africa
Programmes for Women in Agriculture and Rural Development
THE FAO Regional Office for Africa (RAF) employs two methods to support
women farmers in the Region:
This report presents an overview of programmes undertaken by the FAO Regional
Office for Africa which specifically focus on assistance to rural women.
- integrating gender concerns in all its programmes of technical assistance;
- establishing programmes directly focusing on technical assistance to
strengthen women farmers' capacities in view of their full and active participation
in the development process.
1. Policy, planning and research
Agenda for technical assistance to Member Countries in West Africa,
in their follow up to the Fourth Conference on Women in the Agricultural
A programme to prepare an inventory of National Plans of Action for Women
in Agricultural Development with a view to building an FAO WID sub-regional
programme based upon technical assistance solicited. (other sub-regions
will be addressed in subsequent phases)
Socio-Economic Gender Analysis training programme
A programme devised to provide planners and implementers with practical
tools to analyse gender differentiated needs and possibilities with a view
to improving targeting and efficiency of rural/agricultural development
programmes. This programme is based upon the assumption that improved targeting
of rural/agricultural development plans will not only increase national
agricultural production and therefore food security situations, but will
also improve the general well-being of rural women.
Policy advice on pressing gender issues in different technical fields
This is a constantly evolving programme that appraises gender questions
on broad issues of interest to national policies. Presently, the following
issues are being evaluated:
- gender concerns in environmental and bio-diversity programmes;
- gender considerations in decentralized savings and credit systems; and
- gender and irrigated agriculture.
Preparations for World Food Summit
Includes support, upon request, to Member Countries in their preparations
towards the World Food Summit and prepares background documentation to international
fora on 'Rural Women and Food Security' issues in Africa.
2. Institutional strengthening
Gender disaggregated agricultural statistics
Rural development planning efforts have been hampered by a lack of gender
disaggregated agricultural statistics. This was once again confirmed by
the National Reports on the Status of Rural Women, prepared under FAO's
programme of assistance to Member Countries in their preparations to the
Fourth World Conference on Women. Lack of gender disaggregated data was
identified as a major constraint for determining the present status of rural
women and for identifying gender differentiated needs to strengthen agricultural/rural
FAO's Regional Office for Africa, in collaboration with its Headquarters,
will reinforce its programme to assist National Statistics Departments in
improving statistical data collection reflecting new understandings about
women's economic contributions to agricultural production. Actions have
been undertaken in the following countries: Bénin, Togo, Ghana, the
Gambia, Sénégal, Botswana, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. TCDC activities
are foreseen to improve intra-regional information exchange on the experiences
Improving the delivery of agricultural extension services to women farmers
Women farmers receive less than 10 percent of agricultural extension delivery
in Africa, though they form 60 to 80 percent of the agricultural labour
force. Recent migration trends show proportionally higher male out-migration
to urban centres. This has dramatically increased the number of female headed
households in the rural areas.
A practical training programme is being developed, in collaboration with
the University of Ghana and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, for extension
agents to strengthen their capacities to work with women farmers. Such training
is extremely important in view of the necessity for maintaining present
agricultural production levels and the need for improving food security
3. Assistance to rural women
Numeracy and simple bookkeeping training manuals
As a means of strengthening the human capacities of rural women in general
and their business management skills in particular, FAO Regional Office
for Africa has developed practical village based manuals for numeracy and
simple bookkeeping training.
The numeracy package contains a 'Facilitator's Guide' and a 'Learners' Primer'
and focuses on teaching illiterate adults figures, and arithmetic while
using local currencies and real life situations in the examples and exercises.
The bookkeeping manual introduces simple symbols to circumvent the lack
of reading and writing skills, while allowing the adults to practise their
newly acquired numeracy skills.
The impact of the numeracy and bookkeeping training is tremendous and learners
have been able to significantly increase returns from their (small) businesses
by merely improving the costing and pricing of the goods and services delivered
and keeping records of their sales and purchases.
The training courses are given in the national languages though the materials
are published in English and French (shortly). Instructions are included
on how to adapt the contents to different currencies.
For further information on actions undertaken to support women in agriculture
and rural development by FAO Regional Office for Africa, kindly contact:
The Assistant Director-General/Regional Representative for Africa
or the Regional Women in Development Officer
P.O. Box 1628
Tel: 233.21.666851-4 / 664607
Fax: 233.21.668427 / 234934