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Help young women to manage water for agriculture

Help young women to manage water for agricultureBlog post written by Nestor Ngouambé on World Farmers' Organization 's website as YPARD Cameroon representative

Water is an essential part of agricultural productivity; water scarcity is a cause of low food productivity observed this last year in Africa. As women are those most involved within water utilization, many of them still lack basics knowledge to irrigate their small piece of land. Since one year now, Cameroon Youth Initiative for rural development (CAMYIRD), is trying to build capacity of young entrepreneur on water management with more focus on Women.

1. Irrigation is essential for Agriculture in dry season

In 2013, CAMYIRD carried out a pilot phase of a project called “Maîtrise de l’eau Agricole” aiming to help young famer in rural community to sustainably manage water for their production in dry season. Young Farmers from Banwa rural community were trained on three modules: 

  • How to irrigate farms;
  • How to manage equipments;
  • Management of common water reserve in rural communites.

The second target of this project were students from Bafang College for Agricultural techniques. Here young girls show a string engagement to be part of the project. They received practical course of irrigation and the importance of water in agriculture.

About 40 girls were trained during three months from September 2013 to December 2013. They were supposed to repeat lessons on trial farm within the college. Each student has a piece of land of 150m2 to grow water melon or legume (amarathus). So according to what they learnt during the training, they had to imagine the kind of design appropriate to their farms. Equipment was given by the college.

2. Women as cornerstone of water for agriculture!

In Africa, women are responsible of water management in the household. They also played a great role in water management for agriculture. Because women significantly contributes to the production of fruit and legume, cereals, which need a lot of water for their production circles. Within this project, the 40 girls involved decided to avoid any external intervention during the installation of their equipment. They calculated the number of plants within the surface, and quantified the total water need of those plants. According to the crops choose, irrigation was made twice a day early morning and later evening.

It is very important to mention here that, women were convinced that any drop of water losses is very crucial for plants well being. Some professional’s specialists of integrated water management assisted those women during the whole process. One professional had to assist at least 5 girls.

3. perception of girls

A short evaluation of this project shows that, there was significant improvement of water management knowledge of young girls. According to 80%, the training was very important and rich because now they can really quantity the total amount of water need by plants to avoid water scarcity and water losses.

Since women play a great role in water management, it is very important that, our local policy should put more emphasis on practical course related to water management for agriculture. How to use water for crop production? How to avoid water loss. By doing so, we are convinced that, we can build a next generation of young women in agriculture with good skills on water management such a way that, water could no longer be a problem in agriculture. Africa still remains a continent where women still lack access to resource (water) for their activity.

If we agreed that water is productivity and that women are the cornerstone of food productivity, then we could conclude that women are water management potential. About 80% of food production is made of smallholders where women and youth contribute over to 60%.

4. conclusion

Due to climate change, food productivity is decreasing in most countries including Cameroon, the total days of rainfull have also decreased. This situation negatively affected water availability during dry season in Cameroon. So to really deal with this, it seems very urgent to put in place a strategy to sustainably management water for food production.

This project aiming to build capacity for young girls from Bafang College of agricultural techniques is still going on with good impact.

The main difficulties faced by this project were the lack of equipments, because all the girls involved had no sufficient equipment to design their irrigation plan according to what they had learnt, as well as the lack of financial resources to support the participation of young expert dealing with integrated water management. 

© Foodcollection/the food passionates/Corbis