The Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN) started in 1998, inspired by chance meeting that founder Hajiya Salamatu Garba had with a pregnant woman in Kaduna, Nigeria.
Garba explains: “She saw herself as being a ‘reproductive machine,” always either pregnant, nursing a child, doing household chores, being obedient and loyal to men, etc.” Garba sought the woman on a later visit, but learned she had died in childbirth. The store inspired Garba, who was from the region, but had the benefit of an education. “I thought I could assist fellow women from my region with some awareness programmes on general issues that affect the wellbeing of women,” Garba said. WOFAN’s logo is the image of the woman who inspired Garba to start the organization.
Focusing on northern Nigeria, WOFAN provides a wide range of services, including education about health issues, literacy training, economic empowerment, micro-credit for farmers, childcare development, leadership skills, and HIV/AIDS awareness. One of its primary goals is teaching women about soil, water, and agro-forestry conservation. WOFAN achieves its goals by organizing groups (all single sex) of 10-20 people each. The NGO trains the group members – who must be together at least six months to benefit from WOFAN’s programs – on a variety of topics, including encouraging good gender relationships and discouraging social exclusion. Women’s groups account for 75% of the total, while 25% are for young men or children. There are 150 groups registered with WOFAN which include 2,250 members.
Since only 30% of Nigerians have access to clean water, WOFAN has established an 18-month partnership with USAID to work on the issue in 22 communities located in the states of Bauchi and Kano. Their partnership has helped to build and operate borehole hand pumps, rain catchment systems, toilets, and hand washing stations. They also work with school sanitation clubs to teach the importance of proper hygiene, using plays and songs to emphasize sanitation skills. Water issues are particularly important for girls, since they are the ones who usually must skip school to find water – and also they are more likely to avoid schools without proper sanitation.
One of the partnership’s greatest successes was providing two blocks of 16 toilet facilities and 24 water outlets to the Special Education Centre in Bauchi. The school educates approximately 700 students who are deaf or blin that previously had only two compartment delapitated toilets to serve the whole school populace which caused heavy defecation around the school premises WOFAN/USAID partnership also provided water and trained the school populace on improved hygiene practices particularly hand washing at critical times while addressing issues of open defeacation“ The principal of the school Mallam Maikano confirmed to WOFAN that the provision of the facilities in the schools have encouraged parents of physically challenged children in the region to send their children to school particularly the female. We hope that this will improve learning and good health for all the students. It also makes it more likely that parents will allow their children to come to the school,” said Garba. Other successes as a result of the water and sanitation facilities in the school is the use of the run off water from the hand washing station constructed by WOFAN to raise school vegetable garden where students learn practical agricultural science as well as raising seedlings rater than waste the water to litter the school premises
– Project reached 33556 people with $724,280 for a price of $21.6 beneficiary.
– Project encouraged additional investment in water, sanitation and hygiene by the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), the LGA Chairmen and Water & Sanitation Committees, the PTAs, the Water, Environment and Sanitation Committees (WESCOM), community coalitions:
o In Gwale model primary school, PTA built an extra block of classroom and an overhead tank as well as purchased generator to use for motorization of their borehole. The school has also sourced support from other agencies for 6 computers in their school which is used to train pupils when at the same time that the generator is used to pump water
o In Panisau Primary school, the school constructed a small house to protect the borehole from been malhandled by non-school members. They have come up with a programme that helps control the community members that come for water when the school is in session. According to the headmistress “ community members are not allowed to queue in when the school pupils are in session particularly during break periods when the children queue for drinking water”
o PTA in 3 of the schools Dukawuya, Gwale and Jaen primary school have provided special outfits for the EHC members to identify them by other school pupils
o SUBEB in Bauchi state has facilitated the launching of EHC in all the LGAs of Bauchi state thereby all the schools in Bauchi have been sensitized towards the importance and functions of the EHC.
o In Kano state, the wife of the Governor launched a campaign and distributed 30 water tanks to the schools outside the Targeted LGAs to complement WASH project in 2010. She also provided 50 cartons of soap to the selected schools in a grand occasion the was motivational to all environmental club members
o There was an impressive increase in the number of people in target areas with greater understanding of hygiene and greater access to improved sanitation facilities. This is because the awareness campaign on sanitation and hygiene was added to WOFAN’s already existing radio program that airs weekly on new technology for women farmers.
o Bagujan community that have 5 communities all drinking from a dirty ditch with their livestock constructed a local fence around their borehole to protect it from being mishandled
WOMEN FARMERS ADVANCEMENT NETWORK.