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UN Agencies launch joint programme in Zanzibar to accelerate women empowerment

ZANZIBAR - Today, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Women launched a five-year programme, the Accelerating Progress Towards Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment project.

Funded by Norway and Sweden, the US$ 5 million projectwill benefit more than 8,000 rural women in Singida, Dodoma and Zanzibar by helping to secure their livelihoods, through resilience, in the agriculture sector.

In Tanzania, food is produced by smallholder farmers, with women accounting for the majority of the labour force and earning 80 percent of their income from subsistence farming. Unfortunately, gender inequalities rooted in discriminatory patriarchal systems and social norms hinder women from accessing agricultural extension services, markets, land and formal financial services.

Speaking at the launch, Honourable Suleiman Masoud Makame, Minister of Blue Economy and Fisheries said, “Gender equality is crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Tanzania recognises this and has adopted policies that advance gender equality. As a government we recognise and appreciate the continued partnership by the UN in Tanzania to support our efforts towards advancing gender equality especially in the agriculture sector. This joint programme by FAO, IFAD, WFP and UN Women is a demonstration of this continued support.”

The programme will build women’s capacity on climate smart agriculture to respond to climate crisis challenges which disproportionately affect women due to their reduced access to agricultural resources, lack of decision-making authority and weak adaptation strategies.

“It is clear that rural women are facing a number of challenges that are impacting their ability to increase their productivity and incomes. We need to step up our support both now and into the future to help address these challenges and support rural women’s pathways to progress,” said Sima Bahous, Executive Director, UN Women.  

The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted the agricultural sector and local food systems through restricted market access and increased costs of inputs. The project will provide business development, leadership training and access to markets for self-help groups, by supporting existing and new Village Savings and Loans Associations to become officially registered and access financing.

“The launch of this joint programme is timely as it comes at a time when the agriculture sector is faced by a myriad of challenges. The collaboration between the four UN agencies - FAO, IFAD, WFP and UN Women, brings together specialist expertise in agriculture, rural development and gender that are key to addressing the challenges and building resilience. The time for action is now,” said Sarah Gordon-Gibson, WFP Country Director and Representative, on behalf of the implementing agencies. 

The project in Tanzania is part of the second phase of a global programme also being implemented in Nepal, Niger, the Pacific Island and Tunisia. The first phase of the programme was launched in 2014 in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda.

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a UN specialized agency that leads international efforts to end hunger by supporting governments in transforming agri-food systems for Better Production, Better Nutrition, Better Environment, and Better Life – leaving no one behind. With 195 members - 194 countries and the European Union, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide. We believe that everyone can help to end hunger.



IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 518 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub.



United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

@WFP_Tanzania | @SGordonGibson


UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.

@unwomentanzania | @addouhodan



United Republic of Tanzania Gender


Alice Maro - FAO
Mob. +255 685110670

Linda Odhiambo - IFAD
Mob. +254 780 320 073

Desta Laiser - WFP Tanzania
Mob. +255 768 525 270

Hanna Mtango - UN Women Tanzania
+255 767 220 883