Women’s Environmental Programme: Championing Sustainability and Economic Growth in Nigeria

In Kaduna, Nigeria, hazy skies fill the air due to significant industrial pollution in the southern region of the city. This pollution has strong negative effects on the environment and humans, causing health issues, contaminating water and soil, and reducing agricultural productivity. As less food is able to be grown, the economic strain on Kaduna families increases, further entrenching poverty in the community. These effects of climate change particularly affect women smallholder farmers in the area – according to a report by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute, Nigeria experiences a 50% post-harvest loss in agriculture annually, resulting in an estimated economic cost of N3.5 trillion to the agricultural sector.

Air pollution and subsequent harvest loss has been in issue in this region for decades, and in 1997, an activist group was formed that has since evolved into the environmental advocacy and women’s rights organization now known as Women Environmental Programme (WEP). WEP is dedicated to transforming the lives of women and youth by advocating for their rights and promoting sustainable environmental, socio-political, and economic development. WEP has also expanded its efforts to include governance, climate change, peace, and security and holds special consultative status with the United Nations councils and programs. Since its inception, WEP has positively impacted over 20 million lives worldwide.


With $25,000 in funds from CAF America donors, WEP conducted a needs assessment in 2023 among women farmers to understand their challenges regarding post-harvest losses due to climate change. The findings of this study indicated struggles such as:

  • Lack of appropriate storage facilities like warehouses and silos;
  • Limited access to drying and processing technologies;
  • Insufficient knowledge of post-harvest management techniques; and
  • Climate change-related factors like unpredictable rainfall patterns and extreme weather events that worsen these hardships, making it difficult for women farmers to preserve their produce effectively.

To address these multifaceted challenges, CAF America grants have helped women smallholder farmers in Nigeria address identified food production and sustainability gaps. WEP offered training on agricultural best practices to over 100 smallholder women farmers, increasing their knowledge of climate-resilient agriculture and post-harvest management skills. The women learned to produce organic fertilizers and pesticides using Neem leaves, Neem seeds, and animal waste; compost manure production techniques; and appropriate land and soil management practices such as zero tillage.

As a leading farmer in Gboko, Nigeria for almost a decade, Nguumbur Yaji previously relied on chemical preservatives and farm inputs, using a strong chemical called Perfect Killer for the preservation of her yams before storage. As the leader of the all-women’s group Tomato and Pepper Sellers Association in her town, she was looking for alternatives to the strong chemicals for herself and her fellow farmers. She discovered the Women’s Environmental Programme and participated in a fully subsidized training on climate-resilient agriculture and post-harvest management.

Nguumbur’s story changed after she participated in the training, now using Neem pesticides instead of chemicals to preserve her water yam, thanks to the training on organic methods. She also practices composting and sustainable land clearing, which has improved the soil’s nutrients and texture. She continues to engage in sustainable agricultural practices and is now leading fellow women farmers to do the same.

To address the post-harvest rotting of harvested vegetables, WEP also used CAF America funds to construct two solar dryer tents. These solar dryer tents help preserve harvested vegetables and other food produce while decreasing the dependence on traditional sun-drying methods for farmers. Additionally, the solar dryer tents enhance the quality and prolong the shelf life of agricultural produce, increasing farmers’ income as they sell higher quality produce for higher prices.

Mlumun Chia is a seasoned tomato and pepper seller who has experienced huge losses with previous harvests; however, the installation of the solar dryer tents brought her success. Expressing gratitude and anticipated the benefits of the tents, Mlumun said:

“I am planning to make good use of the tents to dry okra, pepper, and other perishables that are very expensive now because I know I will make much profit when they are out of season. We assure you that we will make use of the tents, in fact, the way I am planning to use farm tomato and okra this year, the tents may not be enough for us.”

— Mlumun Chia

The positive impact of the projects funded by CAF America is widely recognized and has gained the support and buy-in of key stakeholders and decision-makers within the larger community. A testament to this is the note of appreciation and deepened commitment to project ownership expressed by the Paramount Traditional Ruler of the local government area, the Ter Gboko, through His Royal Highness, Engr. Ahua Ikpa:

“For you to have sat very far away and thought of my community for this kind of project is highly commendable, we appreciate this laudable gesture, we appreciate what you have done, and we promise you that we will take maximum care of it.”

— The Ter Gboko

In its work to transform the lives of women and youth through sustainable development, WEP’s initiatives contribute significantly to improving food and nutrition security within the community and addressing food insecurity challenges in Nigeria. Our donors’ support for this organization has been instrumental in making these positive changes possible, helping to build more resilient communities in Nigeria and ensuring a brighter, healthier future for countless individuals.

Learn more about the great work done by organizations we support by viewing our other Stories of Impact. Learn more about Women’s Environmental Programme here.

About the Author

  • Margot Cunningham

    Margot Cunningham serves as CAF America’s Officer of Marketing and Communications. Her responsibilities include planning, creating, and implementing marketing and communications strategies, with a focus on building awareness of our mission and engaging prospects and donors with long-form content and event opportunities.

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