Women waste pickers and community organisations of Bogota building a sustainable and inclusive city

Description of the Project: Started in 2012, this initiative shows the way for a sustainable and gender-responsive city, based on formalizing the activities of 26 women waste pickers as recyclers in Suba, in the south suburbs of Bogota. On this basis, ENDA involved 9 community organisations -3520 citizens- to elaborate a holistic urban concept, including participatory territorial planning, urban gardening, cultural and artistic activities and the creation of ‘Bankomunal’ – a community savings and credit initiative for women who do not have access to formal banking. Training in environmental management, gender inequalities and masculinities, local public policies and citizen’s initiatives, allows beneficiaries to exercise their democratic rights to protect their environment and cultural heritage, contributing to the Peace Process in Colombia.

Climate Impact: Thanks to the project 30 tons of paper and 12 tons of plastic are recycled annually, saving 120,000kwh of electricity, avoiding the deforestation of 600 trees and the accumulation of 4,000 kilos of garbage in the sanitary landfill. Paper and plastic are reused in the production of handicrafts for economic empowerment. Through the strengthening of community relations, productive organic terraces have been built, established as training centers for composting, seed banks, waste management and urban agriculture for self-consumption leading to significant climate mitigation results.

Gender Impact: Women recyclers have become environmental agents and providers of a public service with equal pay compared to men. Community women are recognized in their role as leaders for the transformation of urban practices having social, cultural and climate benefits. Participation empowers women and youth, as they are elected in the Community Action Board and in inter-institutional working groups. In this way they contribute to citizen’s monitored municipal budgeting and the implementation of public policies for the improvement of their neighbourhoods.

Scalability: The project indirectly benefits 9000 citizens and will be scaled up through partnerships with women and organisations from other suburbs. The urban gardening terraces are being multiplied via trainings of women leaders with the aim of creating a market for the commercialization of the vegetables and handicrafts. Establishing citizen monitoring of public policies has led to the nomination of a female community leader in the district council. This is key to reducing violence against women and to contribute to the peace building process in Colombia.

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Indigenous women designing climate policies in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Desription of project: The Ikoots, Mixe, Mixteca and Zapoteca indigenous communities of Oaxaca State suffer from marginalization. Since 2011, EECO has been working with women in 28 communities to improve their climate resilience, strengthening their participation in local and State policy processes and their leadership on adaptation and mitigation actions. Community centers for refugees and committees involving 3,330 indigenous women have developed self-built eco-technologies for energy, water and sanitation based on ancestral know-how. They provide input in territorial public policies designed by communities, with a gender responsive, intercultural and rights-based approach. This project, already replicated in other states, contributes to tackling climate challenges with an exemplary governance scheme of co-responsibility between government and civil society.

Climate Impact: Women participate in public policy design in Oaxaca, defining specific actions for the State Law and State Climate Change Program initiative. With 1850 self constructed eco-techniques, i.e. fog condensers, water canals and tanks, they rehabilitate ancestral know-how, capture 54 M liters of rainwater per semester, efficiently responding to droughts and frosts that threaten cultures and saving 85% of the crops. 667 dry toilets, 143 biodigesters and 511 efficient stoves have saved 5,903 tons of CO2 and reduced deforestation.

Gender Impact: EECO uses a gender-based approach with risk and vulnerabilities evaluation. They help transforming marginalized indigenous women in grassroots leaders within the spaces of decision-making and local development. The technologies have been adapted to women’s needs and resolve most problems of health, excessive workloads and economic constraints. More than 3,000 women have been trained directly, creating 3 committees for community management and 9 for risk management; today 357 women have endorsed a leading role in their community.

Scalibility: This holistic project started in 8 communities, rapidly expanding to 28, indirectly benefiting 2000 villages in Oaxaca State. Training women leaders gives the knowledge a greater outreach at municipal and state levels. A monitoring and evaluation process ensures steady improvements, leading to references in international forums and attracting the academic world. Pedagogical materials and games have been translated into several languages and creative communication campaigns on social media and radio allow for wide, international  knowledge dissemination.

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Seed balls bombing connect urban with rural women to restore biodiversity in Tamil Nadu

Description of the project: The Seed Ball Project, launched by a women’s welfare association in Chennai, India, is a creative nature-based and social approach to stop deforestation. Trained rural women earn an income in producing seed balls out of gathered seeds and organic compost. Then “seed bombing” actions are carried out in 8 districts by 100 urban girls and women, in carefully selected areas with ideal growing conditions, so the seeds can flourish. Pupils join in throwing seed balls near their school and home during awareness campaigns. The broad public responds very positively to the project and helps to nurture the growing plants.

Climate impact: With a good growth rate the bombed seeds can curtail the effects of deforestation, reducing the carbon footprint, improving the water table and preserving biodiversity. The plant and tree seeds and the types of land and soil are carefully chosen to optimize results in different ecosystems. A tree is estimated to absorb about 22 kg of CO2 in one year. With 1500 seed balls dispersed since 2017, the association calculates that up to 33 tons of CO2 could be absorbed in one year by the grown trees. One variety of selected plants, Tulsi, are fully grown and release oxygen for 20 hours per day. They also have medicinal properties.

Gender impact: This pilot project generated sustainable income sources for 10 rural and 50 urban women. In rural areas, women gain skills in manufacturing and selling organic compost, and in urban settlements, women have learned how to produce wide varieties of seed balls, according to season and soil type, as well as to select adapted ecosystems for seed ball bombing. The beneficiaries have access to jobs and have become economic contributors to their families. These socially active and responsible women have inspired many others to reconstruct a livable space in their community.

Scalability: This project is easy to replicate and upscale, since it is based on a very simple technique with local natural materials, and with minimum human intervention for the seed balls to grow. Sanju Women’s Welfare Association has mobilized school institutions and the general public. The project is currently running at state-level in Tamil Nadu and could be extended in other states, with proper planning and mobilization. A team has been established to follow up on the growing seeds, monitor and report on the impact.

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Miticash- Citizen science

Description of the project: Miticash is a participatory science project which helps women smallholder farmers become citizen agronomists and contribute to climate resilience in drought prone Kenya, using conservation agriculture techniques. 630 women farmers from the arid lands of northeastern Kenya and Boni forest were trained on selecting and growing drought resistant crops, ensuring food security throughout the year for their communities. The project involves men, women, persons with disabilities and children equally in policy planning and implementation. Women assume leadership roles thanks to a train of trainers model, and take part in decision making processes to address the hunger challenges they face due to climate change. Miticash has provided green scholarship to 23 young girls.

Climate impact: With climate adapted crops and sustainable farming, vegetables and fruits grown in their gardens, women farmers reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Farmers also have stopped unsustainable practices like bush clearance or charcoal burning, which contributes to deforestation and environmental degradation. Over 300,000 trees seedlings have been planted in social institutions to encourage children to be nature enthusiasts. 40,000 tree species in the project’s seed bed will be planted to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems.

Gender impact: This initiative has empowered women smallholders, living in patriarchal communities, to be part of climate negotiations at the local or national level. The women are able to grow drought tolerant crops and have food security throughout the year for their family as well as manage all their farm affairs. This project has also given them a chance to own land and understand their rights. Miticash supports the goal of equal access to education by financing tuition fees to 23 vulnerable girls with a green scholarship.

Scalability: Women in the project area take part in 90% of the agricultural production activity but they practice unsustainable agriculture such as shifting cultivation and bush clearing, which contributes to deforestation. Using an approach called train the trainer, women smallholders are divided into groups and they will then choose their group leaders. The group leaders would undergo training and after that they will go back to their own group to train their members. This approach has ensured wider coverage and the same approach could be used to scale up and replicate this project.

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Women lead community actions to restore endangered coast ecosystems on the pacific island Palau

Description of the project : On small islands like Palau ecosystems are connected from ridge to reef, and inland degradation can become a significant threat to freshwater and coastal waters, diminishing the ability of mangroves and coral reefs to protect coasts. The project targets the states of Ngaremlengui and Ngiual in the Babeldaob watershed. Afforestation activities contribute since 2014 to climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is restoring bare land, ensuring water and food security, and guaranteeing mitigation measures for new housing through enhanced services from forest and mangrove ecosystems. This community led project has involved local women’s groups, youth groups, schools and households – over 550 people- for planting 1,117 native trees, 1084 vegetative strips (e.g. lemongrass strip) and ethnobotany trainings.

Climate impact: Ebiil Society’s project creates multiple benefits, increasing ecosystems’ and communities’ resilience to climate change impacts. These benefits include regulation of soil erosion and fertility loss, carbon sequestration, improved local climate, provision of freshwater resources, and restored habitat for various species. Over 2,600 trees and lemongrass were planted to resist floods and sediment runoff. Plants are grown in Ebiil’s plant nursery and distributed to households or bare soil areas at no cost to the community.

Gender impact: 12 women from the community were identified to lead the implementation of watershed restoration plans, promoting the decision making role of women on land and the matrilineal tradition of Palauan society. Access to trainings was guaranteed to women, men, boys and girls, while elderly women were encouraged to participate as carriers and trainers of traditional knowledge. The women’s groups benefited from capacity development programs in ethnobotany, plant collection and propagation, endangered species, sustainable home gardening, soil treatment and tree planting, and erosion control.

Scalability: Tree growth monitoring conducted in collaboration with Oregon State University informs best practices for planting, depending on species, soil and other environmental variables at restoration sites. This helps in scaling up efforts across the watershed. Methods have been refined over time to ensure resilience in poor soil conditions, bird propagation, social and economic value, as well as minimum maintenance. Afforestation and restoration of degraded land can be replicated in other States, as best practices and collected data can inform housing and construction management policies.

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Mayombe’s mamas produce banana chips to fight against deforestation

Project description: ESI Congo works on improving women’s livelihoods in the villages of Loaka and Magne in southwestern Congo while preserving the Mayombe forest. An agroforestry platform was created and is managed by a women’s group; the processing of plantains into banana chips and their sales provide new income to the wives of former hunters, offering a sustainable alternative to poaching. Plantains are provided by former hunters converted to agroforestry in order to curb traditional slash-and-burn farming practices in the forest. The responsible and ethical banana chips’ manufacturing provides a new value chain for plantains that are cultivated by 90% of the households of this area.

Climate Impact: The project is promoting products from local agroforestry in order to avoid felling trees over large areas (25 ha since 2017) for other agricultural purposes. Preserving the forest ensures a reduction in CO2 emissions and protects vital ecological niches, natural home of the great apes. The chip’s manufacturing process follows a comprehensive and environmentally friendly approach including low water consumption ( 50 l. of water for 15 kg of chips) and efficient firewood use of bamboo, an invasive species in this area.

Gender Impact: Women are given the opportunity to access jobs, which are rare for them in this region. They gain financial independence and a place in the local economy. This brings social, economic and environmental benefits for the whole community. Eleven women have received technical and entrepreneurship training; they are consulted in all strategic orientations thanks to horizontal decision-making processes. Their self confidence is being raised and they are encouraged to make active proposals so they can eventually manage the production unit independently.

Scalibility: Local authorities provided political support for this new economic activity, as well as logistical assistance through the donation of land for the chips production unit. The villagers want to increase the production rate in order to integrate more women. This local economic development model, based on ecosystem protection, is replicable in all countries where banana trees are grown and where the socio-cultural context allows to upgrade plantains products.

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