Winners of the UN Global Climate Action Award 2019

Young Women's Grassroots Action on Gender and Climate Changes

On 26 September 2019, CAMFED (the Campaign for Female Education) received a UN Global Climate Action Award in recognition of African women’s leadership for climate-smart agriculture.

The Award, in the “Women for Results” category highlights the leadership of the CAMFED Association (CAMA) on climate change. These young women are reaching thousands of people in rural Africa with techniques, information and affordable technologies for climate-smart agriculture. They are helping to raise productivity, combat hunger, build resilience to climate shocks, and lower greenhouse emissions, while tackling gender inequity in farming. The approach has huge potential to scale.

CAMFED’s action on climate change was showcased in a series of special events taking place during the second week of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 25) in Madrid, Spain, in December 2019.

Find out more about our activities and impact here.

“It is our pleasure to award the CAMFED’s breakthrough initiative. Their project serves as a beacon, guiding us towards a more resilient future for all. Their project trains young women from poor, marginalized farming communities across sub-Saharan Africa – and in turn provides a shining example of a scalable, effective climate solution, that’s led by young women.”

Niclas Svenningsen, Manager of the UN Climate Change Global Climate Action Program.

With roots in rural communities, around one-third of CAMFED Association members are farmers and agripreneurs...

Women in sub-Saharan Africa are on the frontline of climate change. Despite contributing negligibly to greenhouse emissions they are the first to feel the impact of climate change as they struggle to feed their families. Increasingly extreme weather such as droughts and floods is already threatening the livelihoods of farming communities. It particularly affects women who grow much of the continent’s food and compounds the “resource gap” they face compared to male farmers in terms of access to land, training, advisory services and finance.

'Natural' disasters and drops in agricultural production linked to climate change make women and girls particularly vulnerable to early marriage and hunger.

The CAMFED Association (CAMA) is a powerful peer support network of young women who are spearheading action on climate change in Africa.

Young women leading for climate-smart agriculture...

Since 2014 young women - members of the CAMFED Association - have been taking action on climate change in rural Africa. They have encouraged wide adoption of practical and affordable techniques for climate-smart agriculture, helping to build communities' resilience in the face of climate change.

Agriculture Guides have improved the productivity, sustainability and profitability of their own smallholdings and reached more than 8,500 individuals, mostly women and other young people, through demo farms, community workshops and mentoring. They proffer simple solutions that respect indigenous traditions. Techniques include drip-irrigation using waste plastic bottles; mulching whereby compost is added to the soil to reduce erosion and improve nutrition; inter-cropping where two plants are grown on the same plot to enhance yields and agro-forestry to protect trees on agricultural land. 

CAMFED Association Guides promote both traditional and innovative techniques for sustainable agriculture. These include affordable methods of irrigation, crop-rotation, inter-cropping, agroforestry, organic composting and mulching. These approaches make effective use of scarce water resources, reduce surface water evaporation, improve soil nutrition and its ability to store carbon and increase productivity by enabling multiple harvests on a single plot.

They invite other CAMFED Association members and school-children to learn on their farms and share expertise at community meetings and with parent groups, including Mother Support Groups who cultivate food for school meals. CAMFED Association Guides have won the confidence and support of local government Agricultural Extension Officers, who invite them to train alongside them.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines the three objectives of climate-smart agriculture. CAMFED Association Guides act on all three:

  1. Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes
  2. Adapting and building resilience to climate change
  3. Reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions, where possible.

People reached by Agriculture Guides demonstrating climate-smart techniques

1,000 ha

Commitment of land from Chief Nkula in Chinsali, Zambia for a CAMFED Association climate-smart demonstration farm


Number of new paid jobs created by each Agriculture Guide

Meet some of the young women driving change with
climate-smart farming methods...

Meet Beauty


Beauty offers her farm as a teaching resource to the local school and grows biofortified and drought-resistant crops, including beans and maize, to provide a reliable food source and promote better nutrition in her community. “I donate produce and proceeds from my farm to either feed vulnerable pupils or help with their other needs that include stationery, uniforms or levies.”

Meet Esnath


Esnath has completed a degree in Agricultural Sciences at EARTH University, Costa Rica with a Mastercard Foundation scholarship. In August 2019, she was awarded funding and a fellowship by The Resolution Project to grow an agribusiness specialising in farming edible insects. “We all have to play our part, and with CAMA in every corner of the country, we can improve and reduce these effects [of climate shocks] faster and more effectively.”

Meet Clarah


Clarah participated in a six week course in Sustainable Agricultural Systems at EARTH University, developed together with CAMFED and the Mastercard Foundation. She now works in sustainable horticulture and animal husbandry. “I have taken voluntary action since 2014 to increase awareness of climate-smart farming first in six surrounding districts that, like mine, are on the frontline of climate change.”

 Read more inspirational stories…

More inspiring stories…

In classrooms across Africa, stories are being re-written and futures are being rescued by girls anxious to learn, and young women ready to lead.

Other ways in which CAMFED Association leaders are taking climate action...

1) By supporting girls to stay in school and women into independence after school, enabling empowered women to make choices about family planning and reducing greenhouse emissions

CAMFED Association members support girls to stay in school, and young women graduates to generate an income after school.  As a result women can:

  • Avoid early marriage
  • Gain decision-making power 
  • Take control over their life choices, including family planning. 

These are top priorities in their own right, which also have positive climate effects. They result in:

  • A later age at marriage
  • Smaller and healthier families

Cumulatively, these reduce both population growth and greenhouse emissions by reducing the number of people generating emissions.

Because of these powerful population effects, Project Drawdown ranks Educating Girls and Family Planning as the 6th and 7th - cumulatively #1 - solutions the world has to reduce greenhouse emissions.

406,931 CAMA members, with their own resources, supported over 400,000 girls to go to school in 2018.

CAMA members act on child marriage, working with social sevices and bringing girls back to school who face this threat.

CAMA “Transition Guides” help young women develop knowledge and skills for women’s sexual and reproductive health, and negotiating power in relationships, enabling voluntary family planning.

CAMFED’s Transition and Youth Enterprise Programs result in young women’s improved incomes, savings and financial decision-making; all of which are associated with greater decision-making power over life choices and family planning

CAMFED Association members have a later age at first marriage and first childbirth than other rural women.

2) By promoting affordable technologies that reduce greenhouse emissions in rural African communities

CAMFED Association climate-smart Agricultural Guides are also widely disseminating the knowledge and skills for affordable technologies and approaches that reduce greenhouse emissions. This includes:

Fuel-efficient stoves reduce tree-felling and emissions, as well as delivering health benefits from improved air quality.

Pot-in-pot storage and cheaply constructed solar dryers enable food preservation, reducing food waste.

Working with communities to protect trees and encouraging schools to get involved in tree planting.

Support Africa’s award-winning climate activists...

CAMFED women in agriculture brochure

Together with CAMFED Association leaders, we are working to scale the Agriculture Guide program, ensuring more women farmers get access to a holistic support package. With access to inputs - like seeds, fertiliser and tools, advice mentoring and affordable technologies, agripreneurs can improve their productivity and move up the value chain.

Find out more about the opportunities for young women in rural Africa to grow climate-smart agricultural businesses - addressing hunger and providing secure employment at scale.

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