In 2006, Liberia’s first ‘Women for Development’ group was formed by 17 people (13 marginalised women and four men) looking to rebuild their lives after the civil war. Members were provided with cutlasses, wheelbarrows, watering cans and other tools, as well as pineapple and cassava sticks to plant. The group was also provided with some money which members used to buy peanuts and beans. They planted these in a shared community garden and took turns to tend to this larger plot, as well as defining their own workplan, constitution and training needs.
At harvest time, the members gathered 200kgs of beans, having planted just 10kg, while 40 bags of peanuts were also gathered. The group decided to sell half of the peanuts (20 bags) and 180kg of beans, with the rest being held back for their own needs. Each member was given a small percentage of the proceeds, which was used to pay school fees and hospital bills. The balance was invested back in the group, expanding its livelihood activities. This was the start of a virtuous cycle – each year, the group has managed to plant more, which means that members harvest more and can in turn plant even more in future seasons. Their achievements have helped to demonstrate to the wider community the benefits that women marginalised farmers can bring. By late 2009, there were 26 ‘Women for Development’ groups in Liberia – all led by women marginal farmers themselves.
For more information on the work in Liberia, please contact Concern Worldwide (www.concern.net).