She is the Answer : UK Aid Match appeal 2021

was raised to help women fight against climate change

people were reached directly with the campaign

of the farmers who were trained and surveyed reported using improved agroecology techniques

Where is the funding going?

The funds are supporting a three-year project in Cambodia, which has now reached its mid-point. 

We focused this appeal on Cambodia because the 2017 Climate Change Vulnerability Index ranked Cambodia between “High” and “Extreme Risk,” meaning that climate change impacts will most likely lead to more floods, more drought, and less availability of drinking water.   

ActionAid also has a strong network of communities in Cambodia that it works with. We have established relationships providing a solid foundation on which to further build and expand our transformational programmes that urgently needed funding.

What have we done so far?

Strengthening women's groups and communities 

  • We have reached over 9,500 (9538) people directly including women champions; small holder farmers; government and CSO staff; and community members, most of which were students and teachers. 
  • We have worked with four Women Champion Networks in Cambodia  (WCN) and they all have established themselves with a vision, mission, by-laws, a defined organisational structure, a strategic plan, and a resource mobilisation plan. 
  • All four WCNs have been working to mobilise resources in order for the networks to sustain themselves financially after the close of the project. Initiatives so far have included a rice bank, an organic fertiliser business, and a nursery for trees and plants. 

What has been the impact so far?

Increased disaster preparedness

As a direct result of the actions taken by the Women Champions Networks, women champions observed that their communities have increased their disaster preparedness and resilience.  

For example, farmers have received training to understand how to select the right seeds for extreme weather and are now using natural fertilisers, people in the community have more awareness of reducing risk of disasters, WASH and health issues, and more local authorities have disaster risk reduction plans in place which include measures for preparedness, prevention and recovery.

Improvements to infrastructure

There have also been improvements to physical infrastructure – for example new roads have been constructed and existing roads which were damaged by floods have been rehabilitated; the number of wells has increased; canals have been rehabilitated to prepare for upcoming drought; and school yards have been rehabilitated to protect children from dangers during floods. 

Setting up social enterprise

A social enterprise producing organic fertilisers and building nurseries for mangroves, young plants and flowers was set up.In Kampot, a small business selling local agricultural products was established by the WCN and officially opened in June  2023. In Pursat, the WCN has a savings group with 36 members and the have been using some of their income to support their small businesses, which include raising pigs, farming and selling food.   

Advocacy activities

The WCNs carried out advocacy activities with the authorities to improve services, with issues raised successfully included in community investment plans and raised awareness amongst community members and local authorities on issues related to gender and domestic violence, health etc. 

Practicing climate-resilient farming

Over 300 farmers were trained in agroecology. 99.6% of the farmers who were trained and surveyed reported using improved agroecology techniques, which include  

  • Planting a variety of crops and rotating them to avoid soil fatigue and pest attacks 
  • Ensuring soil coverage to preserve moisture, prevent soil erosion, enhance the dynamic of organic matter and hold essential nutrients 
  • Building terraces and using contour strip cropping, alley cropping, trees and many other techniques to prevent soil erosion 
  • Reducing dependence on agro-chemicals through composts, green manure, mixed cropping, multi-cropping, mulching, crop rotation, introduction of multipurpose trees, and natural control of pests and diseases 
  • Establishing water catchment systems and rainwater harvesting at the community level for households and productive use. (e.g. small dams, wells, boreholes, brick tanks, rock cisterns and other types of reservoirs) 
  • Establishing small, low-cost irrigation systems (e.g. drip/micro irrigation) 
  • Using mixed/multi-cropping to reduce the risk of crop failure and ensure market supply 
  • Depending more on heat-tolerant or drought-tolerant and fast-maturing crops and varieties  
  • Planting trees (for shade and fodder) to reduce heat stress in crops and livestock 
  • Following appropriate and reliable weather forecasts and using this information 
Out-of-school girls being trained in handicraft skills by members of the Nyarongi Women’s Network in Homabay county, Kenya.

Out-of-school girls being trained in handicraft skills by members of the Nyarongi Women’s Network in Homabay county, Kenya.

Mfalme Afrika Production/ActionAid

Sustainable skills for women and girls

Many girls said that poverty was a major contributor to their vulnerability to violence: girls who weren’t able to afford basic necessities like food, sanitary pads and clothing were more vulnerable to predatory men who promised to meet their needs.

Some women mentioned that their husbands didn’t properly provide for their families and if the women would ask for financial assistance from them, this would be met with verbal or physical assault. 

But they said that having a source of income would shift their bargaining position within the household, and therefore decrease the likelihood of violence. 

I am thankful because I did not have a business before and did not have a source of income. I also did not know how to prepare mahamri [fried bread]. But after I attended the classes by ActionAid, I learned how to make mahamri and I now have a source of income."

Out-of-school girl, Kenya

Greater economic independence

Many of the out-of-school girls we interviewed had formed savings groups during the project, and said they will continue with their groups after the project ends. The groups have helped to ensure they have a support system in place – not just for their economic well-being, but also their social and mental well-being. 

We have a savings group where we contribute some money every week and whenever one has an emergency, they can ask for money from the group. This has prevented people taking advantage of us due to financial needs."

Focus group discussion with out-of-school girls, Garissa county 

Expanding businesses through saving 

55-year-old Sopheap, is a farmer and has two children. She is also a women champion, living in Pursat, Cambodia.

She earned her living by farming and raising pigs and chickens, but she only made a small income from her small-scale family farm.

Sopheap always dreamed of expanding her family business, but she needed help with financing.

Thanks to 'She is the Answer' appeal, the Women champion network in Pursat formed a saving group in which all members could borrow money with a very low interest to improve their living conditions and businesses.

Now, Sopheap has expanded her family business through access to this saving group. She can harvest twice as much and, she has enough money to support her family, and buy food and clothes.


Supporting girls to become self-reliant

Zipporah is from Homabay County, and she also dropped out of school at a young age. Her parents couldn't afford the fees, and instead Zipporah got married immediately. 

"It has been a tough life depending on my husband for everything," she said. "Sometimes he doesn’t and we go hungry."

But Zipporah has now trained as a tailor and bought a sewing machine with a loan from the local women's group.

The tailoring business is doing well and I am able to afford basic things for the family without depending fully on my husband. This has reduced conflicts at home," she says.

Top image: Makara, 14, goes fishing with her dad every day before school in Cambodia. Credit: Cindy Liu/ActionAid

Page updated 26 March 2024