Empowering Young Mothers through Gardening

Content Manager • 1 January 2019

      Zambia, and in particular its Western province, is a highly patriarchal society where men are the decision makers and owners of the productive assets. As a consequence, there are massive gender imbalances that disproportionately affect the majority of young women. This is manifested in land ownership, access to loans and other productive assets, access and priority to education and other economic empowerment skills. These factors all collude, proximally and distally, to exacerbate the poverty situation for women particularly in rural areas. The current poverty levels in the Western Province are rated at 80.4% and of this; more than 70% are women1. Because of such deep rooted cycle of poverty, young women are made mothers with very little economic and skills support. With low education, inhibiting policies and norms to access productive resources, the women are usually left in destitute and poor critical situations – much to the disadvantage of their children in form of malnutrition and weak health.

   To address the above challenges, the SDG Philanthropy Platform has engaged the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) among its three Innovation Challenge winners to accelerate well-being of children in Zambia.   

Project Description and Objective:

     The project was designed to help young mothers save water from flooded canals to small traditional water reservoirs such as dams for food production mainly vegetable gardening. The innovation was then accompanied by the installation of technological facilities and tanks that would focus on the storage and efficient use of water to allow its availability throughout the year and thus enhance water food production. Young mothers from rural communities were mobilized and equipped with modern skills on vegetable gardening, entrepreneurship and marketing, simple technologies on the preservation of water for food production, irrigation systems as well as farming inputs and implements.

Major results achieved:

  • 64 young mothers from Soopu, Mawawa and Kaande communities in Mongu and Limulunga districts in the Western Province of Zambia mobilized into 5 target groups of 1415 members each and provided with farming implements and inputs such as tanks, tank stands, ploughs, treadle pumps, watering canes, fertilizer, chemicals and many more to boost their vegetable agriculture;
  • 31 stakeholders (24 young mothers, 2 traditional leaders, and 5 YMCA staff members) trained in modern gardening, preservation of water for food, simple irrigation as well as entrepreneurship and marketing;
  • The concept of village banking and community-based saving introduced among target communities; 
  • 5 Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) groups provided with the seed funding of ZMK 1,500.00 each as total initial capital.

Major SDG Acceleration Lever: Using new technologies (water storage), shifting market and social behaviors (women generating higher yields and income to sustain their livelihoods)       

Lessons Learned and Way Forward:

      The project proved to be sustainable and generating positive impact: the targeted women are now independent and able to produce enough food at a household level. Moreover, they are using village banking model (microfinance) to sustain and expand their activities. The uniqueness of the project is that it’s multi-dimensional as it addresses several issues at the same time, for example, livelihoods, nutrition, gender equality, human rights, climate change adaptation, etc. The project was pitched to the Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders for further replication throughout the country. YMCA will also seek for additional support from the other Ministries, such as Ministry of Gender and Ministry of Community Development.  

Media Coverage and Knowledge Products:

About YWCA:
The YWCA is a Christian, membership-based, non-partisan, non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to the empowerment of the community, especially women, youth and children, to realize their potential as human beings and to contribute to a just society through rights based and sustainable interventions.
For more information, please visit https://www.facebook.com/ywcazambia/


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Photo credit: Patrick Dugan / WorldFish