- Trained 450 vulnerable women in life skills and efficient farming
- Created mutual support networks and a cooperative
- Gave an academic head-start to their pre-school children
- Greatly reduced their malnutrition
In 2013 Network for Africa received a 3-year grant from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to replicate the Aspire Gisozi project (above) in Rutunga, a rural area outside Kigali. Rutunga was chosen because a needs assessment indicated it was extremely poor; the local mayor was keen to encourage agricultural development in what he described as his worst performing district. The women were offered 17 hectares of farm land rent free, on the condition that they set up a cooperative. The women from the Gisozi programme acted as mentors to the Rutunga women, which worked well for all concerned. We repeated the success of the pre-school childcare we pioneered at Aspire Gisozi. In total, 450 women were supported by this programme, where they received vocational training in agriculture whilst cultivating the land. They grew crops (maize and soya beans) as well as vegetables for their own consumption. An evaluation of this programme showed considerable gains for the women. Apart from increasing their income and learning agricultural skills, they told us they had much more control over their family life and decision making; they had formed new and valuable social networks; they cultivated kitchen gardens which contributed to better nutrition and health; the pre-school childcare was a big win for the project and greatly improved the nutritional health of all the children, and all the women increased their knowledge of nutrition.