|(From left to right) Edward Mukiibi and Danielle Nierenberg |
listen as Sithembile Ndema speaks about her work with FANRPAN.
Bringing together leading thinkers in agricultural development, hunger, and poverty alleviation, the symposium takes place following the release of Worldwatch’s flagship publication, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.
The Symposium keynote speakers and panelists included Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World; Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute; Sara Scherr, President and CEO, Ecoagriculture Partners; Catherine Alston, Cocoa Livelihoods Program Coordinator, World Cocoa Foundation; and Stephanie Hanson, Director of Policy and Outreach, One Acre Fund.
Also participating, in keeping with the project’s emphasis on ‘voices from the field’, are two on-the-ground innovators from sub-Saharan Africa: Edward Mukiibi, co-founder and Project Coordinator of Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) in Uganda and Sithembile Ndema with the Food and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in South Africa.
Sithembile Ndema is a Project Manager for the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), which is an independent network linking Southern African countries. Bringing together “different stakeholders,” FANRPAN provides “policy research and analysis… to advise the regional economic borders,” explained Ndema.
Ndema manages the Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) project, which uses theater to help empower women to voice the challenges they face to people in power to influence policy. Says Ndema, “Theater is very powerful in that song and dance are common; it’s a cultural tool that breaks barriers” such as those between genders. “It’s a good way to get everyone engaged” and “it stimulates dialogue among the community members.”
“Constituting 70 percent of the agricultural labor force and producing 80 percent of the food” in sub-Saharan Africa, women (and smallholder farmers) “are not involved and are not consulted” in policy decisions, according to Ndema. Some of the “key issues” that WARM tries to address are gender violence and women’s “lack of access to farm inputs,” markets, and land. Trained in the program to be “policy advocates,” women are now “more aware of their role in policy processes” and “have already started mobilizing…to be able to engage local leadership on the issues that affect them.”