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We are thrilled to share the inspiring journey of resilience and empowerment unfolding in the vibrant community of Kpaling, nestled within Savelugu. Here, women are spearheading a movement towards sustainable food solutions, igniting hope and change through their unwavering determination. Through the transformative support of the GROW 2 project, a collaborative effort between URBANET and MEDA Ghana, generously funded by Global Affairs Canada, these women have embarked on a profound journey, establishing Keyhole Gardens that yield an abundance of dry season vegetables right in their backyards.

Meet Nimatu Yussif, whose radiant smile mirrors the joy and fulfilment she finds in her Keyhole Garden. With newfound skills and resources, she’s one of the many women championing a positive change in the community, not just for herself, but for her entire community. Nimatu’s enthusiasm knows no bounds as she recounts the profound impact of her garden on her family’s daily life.

“This journey has been truly transformative,” shares Nimatu Yussif. “I am deeply grateful to URBANET and MEDA GROW2, as well as to Mr. Haruna and Tidoo, the Agricultural Extension Agent and Village Agent, for their exceptional dedication and assistance throughout the training process. Thanks to their support, these women have embarked on a profound journey, establishing Keyhole Gardens that yield an abundance of dry-season vegetables right in their backyards. Our Keyhole Garden has not only enabled us to achieve self-sufficiency but has also significantly reduced our household expenses. The availability of fresh, leafy vegetables right at our doorstep has alleviated the financial burden of sourcing scarce produce during this year’s dry season.”

Nimatu’s story echoes the resilience and determination of countless women in Kpaling, who are forging a path towards a brighter, more sustainable future. Each Keyhole Garden stands as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives and the profound change that can blossom from empowerment and support.

Join us in celebrating the remarkable achievements of the women of Kpaling as they cultivate not just gardens but hope for resilience and a thriving future for generations to come. Together, let’s continue to sow the seeds of empowerment and nourish dreams into reality.

Monitoring and measuring the impact of projects on beneficiaries is imperative to ensuring their success. Ensuring that projects meet their set targets, and make a positive impact in communities and among beneficiaries is something project coordinators and officers under URBANET take keenly to every project.

The Greater Rural Opportunities for Women 2 (GROW2) project is one of the current projects with the most operational zones and components, which demand more effort in order to be successful. It is always a privilege to lead donors and partners to operational zones for monitoring, considering the proper execution by project officers in their places of operation.

This week, URBANET was honoured to host a field visit to the Zoggu community under the Nanton district by Dr. Pierre Kadet, the Regional Director of MEDA for the West Africa, Middle East, and North Africa (WAMENA) regions, Mr. Francis Essuman, the Project Manager for GROW2, and his team. The MEDA team engaged and interacted with the women smallholder farmers under the project, who were excited to share with them their experiences and the benefits they have enjoyed since the inception of the project.

Aside from the clients’ experience sharing engagement, the other highlight of the visit was a tour of the threshing centre owned by one of the women who were able to purchase a groundnut thresher and tricycle, thanks to the GROW2 project Price Discount Scheme (PDS). Many women within the district and other districts have shown great perseverance and a zeal to be economically empowered. They take advantage of every opportunity provided by the project to elevate themselves each time, a trait that was appreciated and commended by the MEDA team.

The GROW2 project’s primary focus is to alleviate poverty by providing economic and market solutions to women smallholder farmers within the two food crop value chains, soybeans, and groundnut. URBANET’s team is working tirelessly to ensure this goal is achieved successfully and is continually applauded for that.

The Empower project is a youth-focused project that intends to provide support for young people within the Northern Regions through transformative development approaches. The project commenced in 2021 with training on soap making for young girls within the tamale metropolis and has since provided support for them through engagements and exposure to a wide market, trade fairs, and conferences related to business entrepreneurship. After a successful implementation in 2021, the project had a selection process for its second cohort, this time in modern transformative beekeeping for young people within the Northern and Savannah regions.

Two sets of trainings were held for sixty selected participants, thirty each in the West Gonja district of the Savannah region and Nanumba North district within the Northern region. These trainings were meant to introduce participants to modern transformative beekeeping as a tool for ensuring economic and personal development as well as a form of contribution towards climate action. They went through intensive practical training for four days to gain in-depth knowledge as far as beekeeping is concerned.

Participants were taken through indigenous beekeeping methods and their effects on the environment, as well as the bees and other animals, and how necessary it is to adopt contemporary beekeeping methods. Participants with previous knowledge and experience in beekeeping shared their experiences and how they saw contemporary methods to be better after a few comparisons and discussions.

“Previously, I used a lighted torch or dry grass to derive bees away from my beehive anytime it was time to harvest honey. I realized most of the bees died as a result of the fire, and on some occasions, I forgot to turn off the flames before leaving the forest,” a participant attested.

The participants were allowed to explore beekeeping areas with the communities in which the training took place. In West Gonja, they had the privilege of visiting the Damango Agric College, where they were shown some beehives and given brief lessons on beekeeping and maintaining hives by the Head of the Animal Science Department. They were also provided with beehives, smokers, and protective gear after the training as start-ups for their beekeeping.

Aside from providing clients with skills and knowledge regarding innovative farming and climate-smart farming, as part of the GROW2 project, women smallholder farmers have been introduced to farm technologies. This initiative is a step to reduce the amount of time spent on their farms, promote innovative farming, and increase yield.

For the past months, the project has organized innovation and technology fairs across all zones of influence under Urbanet to introduce to these farmers the various technological tools that have been made readily available to them. These sets of technologies, which include roller/push planters, shellers, threshers, and tricycles, among others, have been included in the project’s component as a way of motivating these farmers to not only become business-oriented in terms of their farming activities but also to consider a wide market scale when planning their farming.

These technologies will be made available to women at a 50% discount price to ensure that they can purchase them. Aggregators amongst them are encouraged to patronize technologies such as tricycles to ensure easy conveyance of produce to markets, while farmers are encouraged to patronise threshers, shellers, roller/push planters, and tarpaulins. However, clients will be allowed to patronize whichever technology they prefer, following the requirements that are set out by the project.

Farmers who were able to take advantage of last year’s technologies have been able to make the most of them through increased yield, and others have gone as far as commercializing them to earn an income and support others who were not able to purchase them. By the end of the project, one of the aims is to ensure that enough women can commercialize their farming and be part of the growing agribusiness landscape. These interventions, as well as previous ones, are some of the steps taken to ensure this.

The funding institution of the GROW2 project, Global Affairs Canada, and the major implementing partner, MEDA Ghana, have been very instrumental as far as providing sponsorship and layout for the implementation of the project. With the support of Key Implementing Partners (KFPs) like Urbanet and others on board, the project has moved in successive directions since its commencement.

As a KFP under the project, Urbanet Ghana has, for the past years, worked tirelessly in efforts to ensure that the target and planned impact of the project are achieved in its operational zones, the Northern and Savannah regions. To get a feel of the progress at the community level, representatives of GAC, through Urbanet, paid an official visit, alongside offices from MEDA Ghana, to some communities in the Savannah region to interact and engage with the clients (women smallholder farmers) under the project.

From GAC, the Senior Development Officer, Mr. Majeed Mohammed, and Country Project Manager for GROW2, Mr. Francis Essuman, and others had an active interaction with clients within the Sankunpe and Jiramoape communities in the Central Gonja district of the Savannah region, discussing project activities and the benefits they’ve had so far from the project.

At the Sankunpe community, an interaction was held with 123 women farmers who participated in the Good Agronomic Practices (GAPs), farm demonstrations and had access to organic fertilizers, financial literacy, the Gender Module Family (GMF), and agribusiness training, amongst others. While in Jiramoape, two Savings and Loan Groups (SLGs) were met regarding similar issues, with a focus on their linkage and access to financial services provided by partner institutions.

This visit was meant to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences of the project interventions, including the effectiveness and benefits of organic liquid fertilizers purchased by 46 farmers under the price discount program. And also an opportunity to gain insight into how financial empowerment and access to credit have positively impacted their communities. They were commended for their active participation and encouraged to work closely with the project officer in order to enjoy the full impact of the project.

Aside from enabling women farmers under the GROW2 project with innovative and climate-smart skills to boost farm yields, the projects encourage women to utilize their farm produce through agribusiness to ensure economic stability and freedom. Other vital components of the project, besides providing farm inputs, technologies, farm demonstrations, and skills, seek to ensure that clients can utilize their produce in ways that promote nutritional health, hence the recent food processing and utilization demonstration.

Over the past weeks, project officers under the GROW2 project have undergone a series of trainings on how to incorporate soybeans and groundnuts, two of the most cultivated foods by women farmers, into various everyday meals to enhance nutrition. These trainings, which took place in the Northern and Savannah regions, were necessary considering the level of malnutrition and food insecurity cases within some rural areas of the region.

This training was meant to educate these officers on the skills needed for this activity, which was meant to trickle down to their areas of operation. After this training, community-level training will be held across all Urbanet’s zones of influence, led by the project officers with assistance from WIAD officers. This activity will involve all women in these communities who are clients of the project and will take them through a step-by-step process on how to incorporate groundnuts and soybeans into their household dishes and how to prepare other nutritional dishes to combat malnutrition and promote food security through proper utilisation of foodstuffs.

During the food demonstrations, the women will be educated on the nutritional value of soybeans and groundnuts and how they can be used as replacements for other sources of nutrients that are not readily accessible to them due to financial constraints. They will also be taken through the significance of prioritizing nutritional well-being, especially for their children, and how to ensure constant practice to elevate their health status.

Under the Price Discount Program of the GROW2 project, clients are being supported to acquire farm technologies such as threshers, shellers, tricycles, and push/roller planters, amongst others, to support their farming and post-harvest activities in order to lessen their burden. The program supports women to purchase these technologies at a 50% discount.

Women farmers and aggregators are given the opportunity to choose their preferred technology based on what is most needed by them, with the help of project officers in their areas. This is to ensure that a lot of these women are able to patronize at least one technology due to the number of clients under Urbanet’s operational zones and the limited number of technologies available at the moment.

Distribution of patronized technologies began earlier this month and will continue until before the holidays and after. Owners of shellers and threshers will be taught how to operate, maintain, and utilize them in a way that benefits not only them but their communities or groups as a whole. This category of women will be supported in putting up sheds under which these machines will be placed. Meanwhile, women who patronize tricycles will be assisted as far as registering them is concerned.

So far, 24 tricycles and 7 shellers have been distributed to women within some of the districts, including the Nanton, Central Gonja, West Gonja and North Gonja districts. More technologies are expected to be distributed in the other districts before the year ends.

As part of the WISE project implementation, challenging negative gender norms and stereotypes as well as empowering both men and women to actively participate in household chores and child care is a significant aspect. Nine males, husbands of women in the saving groups who demonstrate positive masculinity, were selected by the women themselves. These men, known as the male champions, were encouraged, through a series of training and awareness campaigns, to embrace more equitable and balanced roles within their families and communities.

Sibdoo Issahaku is one of the male champions at Kuglogu within the Tolon district in the Northern region and is trained to use his position as a man and influence to advocate for women’s economic empowerment. He is married to two wives and has eight children, five males and three females. The name Sibdoo has become synonymous with a supportive husband in the Kuglogu community. Through the project, he has been able to overcome all forms of stigma and name-calling to be a supportive partner, something that is a gnarly practice in his community.

Though hesitant in the beginning, Sibdoo attended some trainings organized by Urbanet’s WISE team and was introduced to the concept of shared responsibilities and the importance of supporting women in daily tasks. Through group discussions, role-playing exercises, and testimonies from other community members, He questioned his beliefs on gender roles.

“After receiving the training from the WISE team on partner and women’s economic empowerment, I decided to make use of the information. I started with my children, asking the males to support their sisters. Initially, they were reluctant to do that because their colleagues started calling them names. But with persistence, they are now comfortable doing all chores in the household. Whenever any of my wives delay at the market, I sweep the compound and, with the support of my children, cook for the entire family. Now my family is happier and healthier than before, and other men are now imitating me because they are seeing a difference now,” says Sibdoo.

Thanks to the WISE project and the efforts of project officers and Sibdoo’s personal growth, the Kuglogu community gradually witnessed a cultural shift, promoting gender equality and empowering individuals to challenge limiting beliefs. Sibdoo and others’ story has become a testament to the power of change and the strength of the community in creating a brighter and more inclusive future for all.

In June, 51 participants were selected across the five operational districts of the WISE project to compete in a pitch competition in Sunyani to earn a spot in the final pitch. Eleven participants were chosen in the end to compete for the final pitch. Out of these participants under URBANET, four were selected from the Tolon and Kumbungu districts in the Northern Region.

The final competition, which came off on September 18, was organized by the Association of Ghana Industry (AGI) for the eleven participants to compete for the first, second, and third positions. The competition was meant to challenge these mentees across the five operational districts to pitch their business ideas in order to gain support in developing them.

At the end of the competition, two mentees under URBANET’s WISE team won the second and third positions and were awarded a cash prize to support their businesses. In second place, Madam Meli Mohammed, from Yipeilnaayili in the Kumbungu district, who specialises in beekeeping and honey making, was awarded Ghc20,000. In second place, Madam Gifty Adam, a soybean processor from Chanzegu, also under the Kumbungu district, was awarded Ghc10,000. The other two, Madam Martha Alhassan and Madam Ama Ibrahim, from the Tolon district, had the fourth and seventh positions, respectively. They were awarded Ghc2000 each, by the NPIIA Manager at Plan International Ghana, Mr. Eric Ayaaba for their efforts.

These women, amongst other mentees under URBANET, have shown immense enthusiasm for growing themselves and improving their businesses over the past three years, and it’s no surprise that Madam Meli and Madam Gifty made it this far. For this reason, URBANET will continue to guide and support them in their respective journeys. It is the core mandate of the organisation to support women’s growth and livelihood and enable them to be economically empowered, and that is the path it will take.

For the last three years, the WISE project has supported women farmers and aggregators to ensure they are economically empowered and have improved well-being and inclusive economic growth. Selected women farmers have been provided the necessary support to increase farm yield, ranging from improved soybean seeds for planting, ploughing their fields, and providing inoculants. Aside from the support for soybean production, the project has also introduced some of these women to green businesses, including mushroom, snail, and honey production.

The WISE project goes beyond supporting women to become economically capable. The project also prioritises the nutritional well-being of the communities, especially women and children. To ensure this, the WISE project team at URBANET organised a two-day Food Exhibition and Nutritional training with the help of a few experts.

The two-day programme was executed in two communities within the Tolon and Kumbungu districts in the Northern Region, with over thirty participants participating in each community. These participants were selected to represent the various communities in which the project is being executed. The key purpose of the training was to ensure that women were able to initiate businesses by adding value to the raw products they produced or harvested. It was also aimed at introducing the women to the various ways they could utilise their produce and transform it into meals that are nutritionally beneficial for them. The major food products that were used in the training included soybeans and mushrooms, as these two are the major foods produced by a majority of these amazing women.

The main aspect of the event was taking the women through how they could incorporate soybeans and mushrooms into various meals to enhance their nutritional status. They were taken through the preparation of both local foods that are common in their households and healthy paps for the infants. Some of the meals included soybean kebab (as a substitute for meat), soymilk, “tuubani”, mushroom pap, “tombrown”, and some mushroom beverages, amongst others. As important as it is for these women to adopt these nutritional ways of feeding, they were encouraged to use this as an opportunity to start a business venture and make use of previous training on branding and marketing to grow them.