Meet Dorcas, she grew up in rural Zambia and was forced to drop out of school due to poverty. But then a CAMFED Trained Teacher Mentor identified Dorcas as needing financial support and helped her return to school. Today, Dorcas is a university graduate, agriculture expert, and entrepreneur, determined to plow back the benefits of her education to her community.
Dorcas’s innovative aquaponics system combines fish farming and vegetable production, using organic waste from the fish instead of expensive fertilizer. It is designed to be built with locally available, sustainable materials, and to suit any land type – even areas lacking soil or adequate water supply.
As a Resolution Foundation Fellow, Dorcas will receive a grant to kick start her social venture, as well as mentorship, resources, professional training materials, and access to a community of like-minded, action-oriented peers. With the grant, Dorcas plans to support 2,000 women over the next five years with training and resources to build aquaponics systems and start their own climate-smart businesses.
Dorcas has witnessed first hand the impact of climate change on her community. Increasingly erratic weather, including floods and droughts, has devastated crops, causing families to struggle and girls to drop out of school to get married in search of financial security. In Zambia, the impact of climate change on food security is a growing issue as approximately 50% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, and 23% have experienced severe food insecurity (World Bank 2019).
High malnutrition rates, food insecurity and hunger are particularly acute issues among women and children, and are linked to low academic performance at school. With the climate changing faster than ever before, community projects like Dorcas’ are essential to help communities improve resilience to climate shocks, feed their families, and keep children in school.
Zambian women are often at a disadvantage to men with fewer land rights or access to quality soil and farmland. Dorcas’s system significantly increases the amount of food able to be produced in the same area compared with row cropping, enabling women to increase yields, even with little land available.
She hopes the system will allow women to increase the productivity of their smallholdings, increase profits, and potentially tap into new markets. Through her passion for agriculture, Dorcas is multiplying the benefits of her education – creating sustainable, long term employment opportunities and improving nutrition and prosperity so more girls can stay in school, learn and thrive.
Young women in the CAMFED Association like Dorcas are part of a powerful network of young women leading climate action across Africa. Since 2014, we’ve reached more than 10,000 rural community members, predominantly women, with practical and affordable climate-smart farming techniques that drive up productivity and improve nutrition through our Agriculture Guide program.