Regenerating Smallholder Farms and Community Resilience in Africa’s Sahel Region

Category Regenerate

For over a decade, more than 20 million people in the dryland areas of the Sahel have faced extreme hunger and poor nutrition. To survive, many vulnerable farm families are forced to take on exploitative loans, eat seeds that should be saved for planting, and reduce the number of daily meals.

This downward spiral demonstrates the need for innovative solutions to build the resilience of farming communities.

With support, this project aims to increase productivity and food security in Senegal’s ecologically fragile, risk-prone Kaffrine region by empowering women smallholder farmers. Funding will help expand agroecology practices that regenerate the Earth, increase climate resilience, and improve livelihoods.

Photo: Courtesy of Groundswell International

Turning home gardens into microenterprises

Supported by Groundswell International West Africa, Agrecol Afrique promotes ecological farming. The organization specializes in home garden organic vegetable production, women’s groups’ market gardening, and linking organic producers to local markets.

With support, Agrecol will provide agroecology workshops to rural women to help turn their home gardens into microenterprises and establish Market Garden sites where they can sell their products.

Training hundreds of women in agroecology

Thus far, this Agrécol project has trained 100 new women farmers to employ and experiment with sustainable innovations. It has supported 93 women in founding three Market Gardening Sites, collectively owned and farmed to produce food for household consumption and sale at local markets.

Additionally, 31 women’s savings and credit groups — locally called calabashes — have also been established to ensure best management practices, with 421 new women participating in 2022.

Photo: Courtesy of Groundswell International

Empowering women and restoring the land

The success of this project will empower rural women to develop mutual support groups, gain access to productive resources, and learn agricultural techniques while improving household incomes and nutrition. It will support family farmers to continuously innovate and spread through farmer-to-farmer networks and an agricultural model that works with nature instead of against it.

Collectively, these agroecological practices will also contribute to the restoration of the land and its biodiversity.

“Initially contributing to the restoration of land and agro-biodiversity, this project will also promote an environment conducive to women and young people practicing agroecology. They can earn more money while building confidence and getting involved in communal decision-making processes.” — Assane Gueye, Executive Director, Agrécol Afrique

Creating climate-resilient communities

This program ties directly to Agrecol Afrique’s and Groundswell International’s overall organizational goals to address the linked crises of collapsing soil fertility, declining food production, extreme hunger and undernutrition, and vulnerability to climate change in Senegal and the Sahel.

By supporting women in agroecology, food security will improve through practices that make communities more climate resilient and revitalize the Earth.