Oyoun Enela is a mother of 7 children in the Mbawupe community of East Gonja in the Savannah Region of Ghana manages a household of 9. Women in this community do not express their thoughts and opinions due to their beliefs and cultural norms. During community engagements, women maintain silence and keep their ideas to themselves for fear of being chastised or seen as being disrespectful to their husbands and other males. Oyoun Enela adds, “Until now, women in my community could not sit to talk with men or have a say in discussions, but with the advent of gender-related education programs supported by the government of Canada and the current 4R project, women are getting very vocal and expressive. We are getting enlightened. “
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship, with its Gender component, engaged the people of Mbawupe and formed Cooperatives based on households, and created the Rural Commercial Women Group (RCWG). This subgroup aims at empowering women to become expressive and contribute adequately to the development of the community. In addition, it works with business-minded women with the hope of supporting them to upscale their business to attract more customers for good revenue.
Like other communities in the district, the 4R project has carved gender-sensitive tools such as the Gender Model Family as a strategy for forming and engaging its cooperatives. Several sensitizations and role-plays projecting the benefits of men empowering their wives and giving women the opportunity to be expressive and take up leadership roles are in progress by the project. As a result, several men in the community embrace these concepts and ideas and act on them to benefit their households.
As a member of the RCWG, women are trained in leadership skills, assertiveness, and financial literacy. Today, Oyoun Enela and her other colleagues can express themselves during community engagements.
She also expressed her joy for the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) component added to the cooperatives and specifically for the group. She indicated that the savings made by people belonging to the group enabled more women to access loans to cultivate their fields for the season.
As a result, more women than in the previous seasons hope to earn some good revenue at the end of the production season. She envisaged this phenomenon to reduce the level of women’s reliance on their husbands for the livelihood of their families.
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship project supported 131 beneficiaries with motor tricycles in the project communities to encourage smallholder farmers to adopt small agricultural technologies to help increase productivity. Women beneficiaries were supported with a discount of 60% and the men 40% of the total tricycle cost by the project. Ms. Enela was a beneficiary of this support, and she added, “Earlier, I used to go to the farm for firewood which I usually carry on my head and walk for miles before getting home. But with the help of this tricycle. It has reduced my burden, as now my children help with the firewood.”
Ms. Enela also mentioned that she uses her tricycle as a business tool during market days: “My son uses it to transport people and goods from one community to another. The general average transportation charge per person is GHC5 and GHC6 for a bag of charcoal. My son makes daily sales of about GHC100 every market day. It is currently the most reliable means of transport available to my group members who use it to transport themselves and their items to the market and after the market at a subsidized fee.”
Ms. Enela finally adds that she is saving extensively to buy another tricycle. “The proceeds from operating the tricycle and with a loan from the VSLA group helped me to revive my provision shop, which collapsed earlier. So now my shop is stocked and doing well.”
Collins, the son of Oyoum Enela said, our education is now secured with the tricycle and the shop.
Through the 4R project, we supported 80 communities with tricycles, planters, knapsack sprayers, and tarpaulins to enable farmers to increase productivity and manage post-harvest losses with the hope of improving their livelihoods through their personal and commercial use.