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New research reveals the reach, impact and cost-effectiveness of women stepping up as climate leaders in their disadvantaged communities in rural Africa.

Agriculture Guides are young women who have completed school with CAMFED’s support and are leading action to build community climate resilience, support women’s sustainable agribusiness and improve food security. 

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The reach of CAMFED Agriculture Guides to date

  • 1,078 Agriculture Guides trained to date. All are young women based in rural Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. CAMFED will be introducing the program in Ghana and Tanzania in 2024
  • 9,262 female agripreneurs trained and supported by the Agriculture Guides across the same three countries
  • Over 100,000 community members – including smallholder farmers and school children – supported with skills and information for climate-smart techniques by the Agriculture Guides and agripreneurs
  • Over 27,700 children regularly provided with meals by Parent Support Groups (local parents who are CAMFED Champions), who were themselves supported by Agriculture Guides to cultivate food for school meals

Click the ‘play’ button to meet a group of Agriculture Guides who are running CAMFED’s climate-smart teaching farm in Chinsali, Zambia, which is the subject of a video-led feature made by The Evening Standard for its ‘Let Girls Learn’ series.

The impact of the Agriculture Guide Program

Impact: The following metrics result from a survey of 675 respondents – agripreneurs supported by the Agriculture Guides – randomly selected from 17 districts in Zimbabwe and surveyed between August and September 2022. Select metrics compared to baseline conducted 18 months earlier.

Uplift to businesses and households

  • 99%

    99% of respondents agreed that their crop yields were better (51%) or much better (48%) as a result of the Agriculture Guide Program

  • 98%

    98% of respondents agreed that the consumption of nutritious food in their household was better (50%) or much better (48%) as a result of the Agriculture Guide Program

  • 95%

    95% of respondents indicated that household savings had improved as a result of the Program

Uplift to businesses and households (continued)

  • 97%

    Of those women running a business (72% of respondents) - mostly in the agricultural sector - 97% reported that the Agriculture Guide Program had helped their business with key benefits including: increased knowledge, increased yields and profits, technical assistance and improved market access

  • 77%

    The proportion of women whose businesses were making a profit increased from 57% at baseline to 77% at endline

  • 7%

    When asked at baseline (18 months previously) 29% of respondents indicated that children / young people in their household sometimes didn’t eat for a whole day because of food scarcity. That dropped to 7% at endline.

Adoption and sharing of climate-smart techniques

  • 11

    The use of climate-smart agriculture techniques increased from an average of 7 before the intervention to 11 following participation in the Agriculture Guide Program. The highest uptakes were for drip irrigation (48%), planting basins (41%), growing trees for wood, nuts, or fruit (41%), and growing trees close to fields to improve soil conditions (41%)

  • 12

    Participants shared knowledge and skills for an average of 12 climate-smart techniques with others in their community

  • 90%

    90% agreed that the availability of water was much better (37%) or somewhat better (53%)

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A cost-effective pathway to community resilience

Cost: The cost of the core program is around $9 per community member. This is calculated as follows: the cost to train, resource and support each Agriculture Guide averages $1,005 across countries in Africa. This includes: training and review meetings for Guides; training manuals for Guides and agripreneurs; resources for community outreach; technology in the form of smartphones or tablets and data to enable communications, collaboration and reporting by Guides; and support from CAMFED’s district and national infrastructure to deliver the program. Each Agriculture Guide reaches 10 agripreneurs and together they reach 100 additional community members each year. Moreover, around 50% of CAMFED Guides volunteer for a second-year of outreach at least – significantly bringing down the cost in their subsequent years of volunteering.

CAMED also provides a grant of around $75 per agripreneur to support them to purchase agricultural inputs, tools or to pool their resources as a group to purchase processing equipment.

More about the cascade model for community outreach

Using a cascade model, Agriculture Guides volunteer their time and expertise to deliver a structured program of support to a group of around 10 female agripreneurs. Regularly meeting in their local community over a period of 6-12 months, the agripreneurs learn about climate-smart farming, food preservation and clean cooking techniques and apply those techniques on their – own or family – small plots of land to build resilience to the climate crisis and improve yields. Learning is hands-on, with Guides often showcasing techniques on their own small-holdings or on community plots and school nutrition gardens.

Women collect dry maize crop leaves for mulching their vegetable garden in Mbire district, Zimbabwe.

Guides work in close collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture Extension Workers and other partners. Techniques blend innovation and Indigenous knowledge and range from affordable water management (such as drip irrigation using waste plastic and planting basins that conserve water) to inter-cropping (growing complementary crops on the same plot of land to increase yields) and agroforestry. Agripreneurs learn how to grow nutritious crops, add value to their agricultural produce to uplift their incomes and to share knowledge with their wider community.

Each Agriculture Guide and 10 agripreneurs together reach 100+ members of their community each year. They focus on the ‘forgotten farmers’ among them – smallholders without access to formal technical assistance or finance to increase the productivity of their land or look after natural resources. These include Parent Support Groups, formed to keep vulnerable children in their communities in school by growing food for school meals, for example.

Agriculture Guides are helping to raise productivity, combat hunger, build resilience to climate shocks, and lower greenhouse emissions, while tackling gender inequity in farming. CAMFED’s Agriculture Guide Program was awarded a UN Global Climate Action Award in recognition of its effective and scalable approach led by young African women.

Hear from some of our Agriculture Guides

Chise-Kabungo-150234-CAMA-AG-farm-Mpika-ZAM-11-Oct-2023_C-Wood_IMG_1560 (1)

StoryZambia

Chise

Growing up in rural Zambia, every day in education was a challenge to me. Today I am an advocate for girls’ education, working with stakeholders to improve the lives of others and achieve my dream that all girls in Zambia have access to quality education and become independent leaders.

Mary-Chitehwe-833687-CAMA-Nyanga-ZIM-Dec-2022

StoryZimbabwe

Mary

I support vulnerable rural residents to build resilience in the face of the global climate change emergency - by sharing knowledge and strategies on how to address the impacts we face in rural Zimbabwe. 

Tawonga-Zakeyu-Daudi-126043-CAMA-Tertiary-Earth-University-Machinga-MW

StoryMalawi

Tawonga

I'm Tawonga from Malawi. With CAMFED support I completed my education and studied agriculture at EARTH University. Now I am plowing back my climate-smart knowledge into my community and supporting young women farmers to increase their yields and create jobs for other young people.

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