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Small Farms Development among women heads of households in rural townships in Manzini, Swaziland

The Salesians of Don Bosco have been present in Manzini, Swaziland since 1954. Their work was and continues to be focused on the needs of youth and their families. They run schools, residential homes for street children and orphans, educational programmes, income generating programmes as well as social outreach and community based programmes.

Contrary to other parts of Africa, southern Africans live on homesteads as opposed to the traditional village life style. Attached to most homesteads are small farming areas used by the women to feed their families. These small farms are an economic mainstay in the typical Swazi family. Due to the high rate of HIV/AIDS (38%) and the big problem of poverty there is an increasing number of children who are either orphans or victims of broken family situations. The breakdown of the family is mostly caused by a lack of food security as well as a lack of funds for education and medical care. It is an accepted reality that African women are the backbone of their society. Thus, the personal, educational and economic development of women as heads of households should be the frontline approach in the resolution of children/youth issues and concerns.

Target group:

Six women who are heads of household in poor rural areas: They have prior experience in small vegetable gardening, are functionally literate and able to commerce. The women need to live on a homestead that has water being piped into the home. Other direct beneficiaries are the children of the women and other family members. The indirect target groups are the different communities the women come from.

Objectives:

Female heads of households from poor rural areas shall receive the necessary financial and technical assistance to farm local produce for the long-term benefit of their families and immediate community. The women should be able to sell a portion of their vegetable harvest in the local markets or to neighbors. They should establish an informal women’s vegetable garden cooperative. The leadership development of the women should be encouraged in the rural society. The women themselves should share the knowledge, they received in the trainings, with the women in their respective community.

Activities:

Six interested women will be chosen. These women get financial support to buy seeds and tools for farming. In different workshops the women will receive technical training in farming and selling the products / seeds in different workshops during one year. In between the women will prepare the land, purchase the seeds and plant. Furthermore, they discuss the idea of a women’s cooperative with the village chief in different meetings. The programme will be evaluated after one year. At the end of the first year the farm project will continue to satisfy the nutritional needs of their families and sell a portion of their crops in the local market or to the neighbors. Additionally, a women’s cooperative will be implemented. Rural women can participate to form a cooperative with the support of the village chief for the overall benefit and welfare of the immediate community.

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