Gender and development People

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.

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 sector

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:

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 development plans.

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 gained.

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 situations

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
FAO/RAF
P.O. Box 1628
Accra Ghana

Tel: 233.21.666851-4 / 664607
Fax: 233.21.668427 / 234934

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