In Senegal, Food for Assets Project Benefits Women Rice Farmers
Christopher Kaye, Director of Performance and Accountability Management at WFP (centre left), meets Caritas Director Dominique Sene (far left) at the start of the trip to Niakhar region in western Senegal to visit a Food-for-Assets project implemented in partnership with Caritas.
Food-for-Assets projects provide direct transfer of food to food-insecure communities in times of need to help them develop community assets that build resilience over time. Here in Niakhar, the local community authority has assigned 80 hectares of land to these women farmers to grow rice.
These women are removing weeds from their rice farm. They estimate that they will harvest about 25 metric tons of rice, which they will use to feed their families. They will share the produce equally among themselves.
Christopher Kaye visited Senegal to evaluate the project, which was started in 2012 and 2013 and aimed to assist food insecure communities who had suffered successive climatic shocks. The project provides food transfers during lean season.
Senegal lies largely within the arid Sahel region and is chronically vulnerable to natural disasters. Its agricultural sector has declined over time, and it faces a structural food deficit for main staples. This Food-for-Assets project means that these women can be sure that their families will not go hungry. During lean periods, WFP provides food assistance to this community to avoid migration, so they can remain in their villages and till their lands in preparation for the next agricultural season.
In this community, rice is traditionally grown by women, so they are the main participants in the Food-for-Assets project, which is benefitting 88 women and their families. Before the project, these women grew rice on smaller plots of land, which lacked infrastructure that boosts productivity, such as dikes for managing water flows. Taking part in the project has allowed them to increase their harvest and mitigate hunger during prolonged lean seasons.
Christopher Kaye with WFP staff meet some of the women leaders who organise the group farming activities on a daily basis, such as planting, weeding, harvesting. Throughout 2013, short-term humanitarian activities and support for government-led safety nets and longer-term resilience-building underpinned WFP’s work in Senegal.
WFP Food-for-Assets programmes are helping women farmers in western Senegal build their resilience to mitigate the impacts of recurrent climatic shocks. Through this programme, they have expended the area under cultivation from 8 to 80 hectares and are improving irrigation mechanisms to boost year-round rice production. That means they can grow more rice for their families.