For this year’s World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the theme "Her land. Her rights" emphasizes that investing in women’s equal access to land is a direct investment in their future and the future of humanity. It's time for women to be at the forefront of global land restoration and drought resilience efforts.
According to the United Nations, droughts are among the greatest threats to sustainable development and are forecast to affect over three-quarters of the world’s population by 2050.
Since 2017, the Robert Walters Group has partnered with the Global Angels Foundation, an international charity transforming disadvantaged communities around the world. We've worked alongside the the Itinyi Valley community in Tsavo to foster innovative farming practices to defend against harsh local conditions such as droughts, extreme heat and deforestation.
Molly Bedingfield, founder and CEO of the Global Angels speaks to us about how the foundation is working to empower the women of the community by helping them employ land regeneration and drought resilient practices.
What was it that motivated you to empower women in Africa?
I have seen such incredible suffering of women in drought-stricken regions of Africa. It is often customary for them to walk incredibly long distances (an average of 15km) every day to fetch water from sources which animals also drink from. Unfortunately, collecting water takes many hours out of a woman’s day, and the water puts both them and their children at risk from disease. I found it heart-breaking to witness their suffering given how much love these women have for their children. As a mother and grandmother, myself, I felt deeply called to help them.
That’s why I am so passionate over the Global Angels Safe Water and Land Regeneration Programme which the Robert Walters Group significantly contributed towards through the Global Walks to Kenya fundraiser initiative where employees all around the world walked, ran or swam a collective total of 6,000 miles and raised an outstanding £17,254.
These funds allowed us to line and cover three water pans which can collect and store 1 million litres of rainwater, build a water kiosk to provide life-giving water to the community in times of serious drought, make gabions in gullies to prevent further soil erosion and build contour swales on 11 acres of farmland as part of our land regeneration programme. Empowering women so that they can empower themselves and build a sustainable future has been extremely rewarding and fulfilling.
What are some of the key Global Angels projects which specifically champion local women and how do they work to bring equality and equity for all?
At the Global Angels farm we are training and employing local women. We have started women’s Shamba (farming) groups to introduce local women to farm small plots of land, while helping them learn regenerative farming and circular economy principles.
An example of this is how we trained and employed them to build swales on our farm and one of our neighbour’s farms. Swales are contoured trenches which control the flow of rainwater thereby preventing precious topsoil being washed away and instead allow the rainwater to seep into the land and nourish the crops.
One day per week, the community would come together and work on land which was allocated to one of our female farmers. By collaborating, the women were able to build an average of 100 meters of swale per day. The following week the women collaborated to build swales on the next plot. After 12 weeks all six women and their families had 200 meters of swale on their plots, which was an incredible achievement for them all.
We also empower local women to build their own small businesses. By providing them with training and passing on knowledge learnt from experimenting with different farming practices, the women will be able to maximise their chicken, goat or bee farming businesses. We will be teaching them how to make goat’s cheese, which they can sell alongside their goat’s milk and honey through our Global Angels Farm Shop. There is a high demand for goat’s cheese in the coastal areas of Africa, where a lot of expatriates live and enjoy that produce. We will thus be able to capitalise on this demand and sell the products the women have been producing. Our plan is for women in the local community to teach each other what they have learnt from us and to likewise be able build their own sustainable future.