This activity is making rural women in Nigeria leaders in keeping their fields productive and being able to move around their communities in light of increased flooding due to changing climate. “Preparing Rural Nigerian Women to Take the Lead in Climate Change Adaptation” engages women and youth to better manage drainage, while reclaiming abandoned farmlands. A hoped expansion of the project involves rainwater catchment to prevent flooding that will also establish a clean, local water source.
50,000 rural residents (including 32,500 women) in 13 villages benefited
20 abandoned areas returned to cultivation
75 percent increase in community farm yields
Women empowered to become leaders in efforts to adapt to climate change
Climate change has led to increased rainfall in southeast Nigeria, causing serious flooding. The inability of drainage systems to handle this new water volume has washed away roads, along with large quantities of topsoil and subsoil. Farmers have abandoned their fields in the light of such serious erosion. The soil depletion and low productivity of affected farmland has diminished the communities’ crop yields, food security, and income.
Women and youths in the Amauzari community and some neighboring areas worked to channel floodwaters by building out drainage to combat gully erosion. They used sand-filling and landscaping to help reconstruct devastated farm roads, as well as reclaimed abandoned, eroded farmlands. Community members transformed impenetrable crust-lands into productive farmland by rebuilding the fertility of degraded soils through tree-planting, cover cropping, contour tillage, and cutoff drainage. Farmers were taught how to enhance rooting of crops and prevent soil from getting waterlogged.
Women were also taught about using cook stoves, coal, and more efficient mud stoves. They are now leading an advocacy campaign to prevent deforestation and educate others on the local effects of climate change.
Helping the planet
Reclaiming farmland and improving soil fertility enriches the land, while preventing flooding from washing soil away also insures that life can continue to exist there. Rich soils help retain rainwater, allowing it to infiltrate into aquifers and recharge groundwater sources rather than simply washing away. Planting trees and preventing felling forests for firewood also holds down soil and conserves habitat for other species. Forest preservation also helps combat further climate change.
Restoration of roads and footpaths have reduced the hardship of women in getting to their farms, and of children in getting to school. Efforts to better divert floodwaters is also hoped to help prevent the most devastating effects of flooding in the future, also preventing property damage, potential loss of life, and immeasurable inconvenience. Reclamation of farmlands has not only economically benefited farmers who can again sell crops, it’s also contributed to local food security. The focus on women has helped get them fully engaged in farming and empowered them to become leaders in efforts to adapt to climate change.
The project has already grown to provide a larger and lasting impact on the community and neighboring communities. Funding is being sought to expand efforts to include rainwater harvesting, which would further reduce the potential of flooding while at the same time providing a local water source. The project could also be replicated at other locations with similar problems of flooding and degraded farmland.
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