Hope for Rural Women Project

Rockflower Commitment: Fund mushroom production process to increase food security and income generation for women living in poverty
Location: Kasese, Uganda

The effects of climate change, in particular the acute drought conditions are drastically affecting the food production base of rural women farmers in Kasese, Uganda.   The shortage of food is causing a spike in prices, increasing the burden on local agriculture supply lines and causing many to go hungry.  There is a growing need for new approaches to guarantee sufficient food supplies for the women and their communities in Kasese district, western Uganda and to develop Innovations in farming to protect the land and environment from further degradation. 

The combination of food insecurity and poverty has had a devastating effect on the rural women of Kasese district. Women are engaging in prostitution as a means of survival and to put food on the table for their children, a practice exposing them to the dangers of unplanned pregnancies and scourge of HIV/AIDS. 

In order to reverse this situation and give the women in this community an alternative solution, 

Rockflower is partnering with Hope for Rural Women to implement two projects - the Micro Gardens for Food Security and Women’s Livelihood Improvement Project and the Mushroom Spawn and Production Project for Women living with HIV/AIDS. Both of these projects will contribute to food security and increased Income for the women in Kasese district.

Micro Gardens for Food Security and Women's Livelihood Improvement

Hope for Rural Women will train 50 women from Kasese in Community Knowledge Transfer in Micro Gardening Technology. This technique focuses on enhancing farming productivity for families with limited farming space in urban, semi-urban and rural areas. It involves planting crops on balconies, backyards, rooftops and also cultivating plants in recycled locally available materials such as plastic tins, old car tires and plastic bags. 

During the training every woman will be shown how to set up a 2 meter square micro garden - provided with vegetable seeds (cabbages, cauliflower, eggplants, carrots, tomatoes, onions, pumpkins and cucumber) and also be given a plastic rain water harvesting tank which can hold up to 1000 liters’. The women will then harvest the water during the rainy season and store for the future watering of crops in times of rain scarcity.  

The project will show the women not only how to create Micro gardens, but additional skills such as how to make organic compost manure necessary for replenishing the exhausted soils and how to identify major threats like pests and diseases and to combat these with organic pesticides. 

There are also additional benefits to the scheme which include integrating the use of household waste to produce compost and manure to improve productivity and demonstrating conservation skills through farming practices such as zero-tillage and mulching.  A micro garden of only one square meter can produce any of the following:  36 heads of lettuce every 60 days, around 200 tomatoes (30kg) per year, 100 onions every 120 days and 10 cabbages every 90 days, allowing 

families to easily produce enough food for home consumption and to be able to sell the surplus for extra income.

In addition low-income families can meet their nutritional needs for vitamins, minerals and plant proteins through the provision of fresh vegetables every day.  

Above all, micro gardening can give substantial contribution to solve food insecurity especially in rural/urban areas with a lack of fertile soils or which are faced with prolonged drought due to climate change.

Mushroom Spawn and Production Project

Hope for Rural Women conducted an assessment in October 2015 looking into the urgent needs of the rural women especially those affected by HIV/AIDS. These women face the double trauma of not having enough food to eat, due to increased food insecurity and the social stigma of being HIV positive or living with AIDS. Despite the introduction of free Anti Retroviral Drugs by the government of Uganda, many women are still dying because they are unable to reach the health facilities to collect the medicine.

One of the solutions to improve financial independence for this group of women is to develop 

a MushroomSpawn and Production Project.  This locally led initiative will provide a source of income enabling these women to travel to hospitals at a distance from their homes to pick up their HIV drugs, receiving treatment from qualified staff and enjoy reduced stigma from the communityaround so that they can restore their hope and dignity. 

By investing in mushroom growing and spawn production which will be sold locally to other farmers in Kasese the project will strengthen the capacity of 35 women and in particular 15 women living with HIV. 

It will provide increased knowledge to women Mushroom farmers through the establishment of a mushroom training centre, equipped with a mini Laboratory for constant spawn production and at least 5 training programs on mushroom technologies. By learning about the different mushroom species these women can develop their understanding of the opportunity that mushroom growing can offer. The relatively small start up costs, excellent climate conditions, fairly simple process and short yield period (3 months) makes this an obvious immediate solution that can have long term impact on the lives of these women. 

aquaponics fish farming pilot project

Building on the success of their Micro Gardens and Mushroom cultivation, Hope for Rural Women is establishing an Aquaponic Farm for Fish and Vegetable Production.

This pilot project will provide fish protein and food for expectant mothers, who are struggling to find adequate sources of nourishment and in particular protein. The lack of fresh vegetables and adequate sources of protein is having a negative effect on pregnant women in Kasese. This is exacerbated when they go into labor and suffer complications and need blood.  By the time the hospital sends an ambulance to Fortportal blood bank or Mbara blood bank, the women in labor have already died. Fortportal is 90 Km away and Mbara over 200km from Kasese.

The issue of malnutrition among pregnant women in Kasese district is crucial and and needs urgent attention. The micro garden is doing a commendable work to partly address this challenge, but there is a need for supplementation with Aquaponic Fish farming. African catfish will be reared in in a concrete water tank with vegetables grown in a grow bed on top of the tank. The water from the the tank will be used to rear the fish and as ammonia accumulates in the tank, the water will be pumped to the grow bed which will have stones. The dirty water and ammonia will stick on the stones in the grow bed providing nutrients for the vegetables to grow well and then clean water returned to concrete tank. This kind of farming will provide fish protein and healthy vegetables to expectant mothers throughout the year. Vegetables are hard to get because of the high prices involved, while the nearest body of water, Lake George that used to provide fish protein to the Kasese community has been closed forcing the community to feed on fish bones.

The fish and vegetable protein will be availed to at least 50 member's of the organization to add to their daily meals while the surplus will be sold to earn them income and reinvest back into the Aquaponic farming to sustain the project.

About Hope for Rural Women

Hope for Rural Women (HORUWO) is a community based, non-political, non-sectarian, non-profit making organization, committed to the promotion of women/children rights, peace and justice, and ending domestic violence in rural communities, through education and Health services.



Related to Mushroom Spawn and Production Project