Past activities

Past GenderCCSA achievements

 During 2016, GenderCCSA with the support of Heinrich Boell Foundation, worked with 101 women in the Eastern Cape province to train grassroots women on various adaptation strategies and techniques such Climate smart agriculture, waste recycling and making energy effiecient products called Wonderbags making, food and herb processing. The organisation also facilitated and hosted local to local grassroots women’s exchange visit at Cwebeni to showcase to the local women what youth from the community has been doing to rehabilitate their indigenous forest where they are collecting seeds and planting them using waste plastic bottles, they then cut alien plants and plant indigenous species that are rare. They have since established nurseries that have over 5000 plants. The second exchange was held in Ward 23 in Port St Johns Municipality for 20 women to learn from each other about best ways of doing home food gardens and also follow up from training. It was great to learn from success as well and challenges they had faced as some established home food gardens that produced enough to eat and even sell their produce and some were challenged by heavy rain.

GenderCCSA with the support of the Norwegian Church Aid contracted Mpfuneko Community Support NPC to train grassroots women on how to build and maintaining biogas digesters as a way of showcasing how waste could be turned into an energy source on as a way to mitigate and create resiliency to climate change and provide training on local adaptation measures. The gas from the biogas digester starting flaring June 2016 and it is currently being used by Serapeng Women Farmers Cooperative members to process the herbs into various products.

The organisation just conluded a project that formed part of a European Union (EU) funded programme called Sustainable Use of Natural Resources to Improve Resilience in South Africa: a Grassroots Women’s Initiative, implemented by Earthlife Africa JHB, GenderCC Southern Africa in partnership with Oxfam. The intervention has been implemented with the community beneficiaries of Risenga Primary School, Siyandhani Village in Giyani and Nwajaheni Primary School, Nwamitwa Village in Tzaneen, Green Park Informal Settlement Ward 19 City of Cape Town and Founders Educare Centre in Makhaza Khayelitsha. The project intervention established organic food gardens and installed  water harvesting tanks at all the 4 Sites in Limpopo and Western Cape, installed biogas digesters to provide energy for cooking, and solar powered boreholes at the 2 sites in Limpopo that were facing water challenges as a result of the prevailing drought. Further developments included the construction of a new Kitchen for the Risenga Primary school and the Refurbishment of a community hall at Green Park Informal Settlement to allow communities a habitable place and environment to start income generating projects as well a Soup kitchen. In addition, the project installed shade nets over the gardens to reduce water evaporation and to minimize crop damage from pests.  Furthermore, 20 project women champions per site were capacitated with nursery propagation skills as well as herb processing skills training as part of enhancing the community’s capacity to generate income generating projects by processing and selling packaged herbal ointments. Organic food Gardens were the best performing component of the project at all the sites as project champions proceeded to share the knowledge with others and also erected their own food gardens at their homes.

Raising awareness, building capacity and influencing policy (South Africa)

The overall goal of this pilot project was to contribute to integrating gender in climate change related policy making and adaptation strategies in South Africa. Initiated in 2010, the project focuses on working with women’s groups in rural communities of the North-West, Limpopo, Western Cape and some peri-urban parts of Gauteng province.

Within the framework of the project three activities were conducted:

  • policy recommendations in South Africa and the UNFCCC
  • capacity building workshops
  • a Grassroots Women’s Conference on Climate Change

Dorah Lebelo, steering group member and coordinator of GenderCC’s project in South Africa, joined forces with other experts and organisations to found GenderCC Southern Africa (SA), and introduced it as one of Southern Africa’s leading associations on Gender and Climate Change.

The project was supported by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Find out more…

Project Title: Grassroots Women’s Empowerment for Resilience and Adaptation against Climate Change

GenderCC Southern Africa partnered with Heinrich Boll Foundation (HBF) to implement the project for grassroots women in the KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Western Cape to adapt to the impacts of climate change and play a strong role in adopting low-carbon technologies, spreading knowledge about climate change, and urging government and businesses to take climate action. The project trained 30 women in Limpopo on Bee keeping for Business Course and Smanga Bag (Hotbag) for Business Course. In the Western Cape, 19 were trained in Renewable energy, energy efficiency and wonderbag making workshop. 10 women were training Gauteng, i.e. 5 trained on a 5 day Vermicomposting for Business Course and 5 trained on Food Processing for Business Course through the Green Business College. In KwaZulu Natal, 30 women were trained in Smanga Bags training. In Limpopo 18 women were trained in Smanga Bag for Business and and another 18 women were trained Bee Keeping for Business.




Mobilizing Women’s Voices in South Africa around Food and Climate Justice in Southern Africa

Engagement with grassroots women farmers at a Women, farming and Climate Change Conference in Thabong township in Welkom in April 2017

Brief description of the proposed project

Many grassroots women who are part of CBOs, cooperatives and social movements hardly hear about the vulnerability of their communities to climate change even though many of them are already impacted by the changes in the weather patterns. Despite the wealth of experiences available and the initiatives being taken by various NGOs, effective adaptation, aimed at protecting vulnerable households and livelihoods among these women, is constrained by the limited exchange of information between and within the civil society organizations.

There are many processes that are meant to deal with the issues of climate change and how communities could find solutions to adapt to this catastrophe, these include the African Union and the UNFCCC to mention just a few,  however, the voice of grassroots communities, particularly women is not been heard. Their voice has been overshadowed by the corporations and big organisations with their strong lobby and as a result their environmental, economic, social and cultural rights receive very little or no attention on the AU nor the UNFCCC agenda.  While there have been some attempts to bring in this voice, this has been very minimal.

Another important dimension is that grassroots women also lack a common voice to speak out their challenges and experiences. Over the years various groups and organizations have worked on issues around women and climate change in a fragmented manner and no concerted effort has been put towards raising a common voice. On many fronts, losses have been registered because of this division within the women. The grassroots women have often accused the environmental and gender activists of being elitist and not involving them in the processes. The elitist women at some point sought to protect their own interests vis a vis the greater need.

Fighting for climate justice is one of the areas that desperately need the input from those people most likely to be negatively affected including women and the poor people in low-income areas. As a result, GenderCCSA will also build capacity in its civil society network members that will assist them to engage with decision makers at a local government and community level. In this way it is hoped that these grassroots groups will be empowered to shift the focus of local development away from unsustainable to sustainable practices and start calling for climate justice that would embrace cleaner production, sustainable development, and fair, just, and equitable policies and practices that would mitigate global climate change.

Project Action

GenderCCSA worked to build capacity of grassroots organisations to make change possible in the way decisions makers approach climate change, in particular in the sectors that affect poor women most:  water, energy and agriculture. GenderCCSA also provided various platforms for women’s organisations and grassroots movements to engage with government and business on a level playing field, with a view to shifting policy towards gender-equitable, affordable and sustainable forms of energy, the equitable distribution of clean water and  sustainable agriculture polices that assist women and the rural poor.

The focus of the project was on the following:

– Build citizen resilience by empowering communities to proactively advocate for climate change policies that are aligned to their needs.

–  Capacity development, awareness raising and support for sustainable livelihoods on gender and climate change in rural Eastern Cape and expand this into urban centres over time.

– Consolidating and expanding existing activities by providing support for Climate Change champions in communities or spreading/replicating successful activities to new geographical areas

Problem statement -what problem was the project seeking to address

Climate change is expected to affect many sectors of the natural and man-made sectors of the environment, and many of them are of particular relevance to the work and livelihoods of women. Women living in poverty are the most threatened by the dangers that stem from climate change. Women in South Africa are not immune to these climate change threats. In rural communities women are largely dependent on natural resources and agriculture for their livelihoods. Climate change will mean that the supply of natural resources will be threatened. Agriculture may become less viable.

As it is, in many provinces of South Africa, farming activities take place on the edge of survival. Even minor changes to rainfall patterns (especially coupled with increased severity of droughts and floods) threaten food security. Women living in rural and informal settlements are vulnerable to frequent extreme events like flooding.

The climate change capacity building workshops and dialogues have the potential to facilitate gender mainstreaming and programme efficiency, thus contributing to capacity building and empowerment especially of grassroots women as producers and distributors of indigenous knowledge and has clear benefits for the communities that they will serve. This will also assist in achieving the long-term development goal of ensuring environmental sustainability.

Future projets will need to focus on working with grassroots women farmers to empower themselves by accessing appropriate climate finance; supported by insurance, business and financial management skills; and implementation of various climate change adaptation measures in their agricultural activities. They would also need to be assisted to remove systematic barriers for grassroots women to access climate finance and agriculrural value chains opportuniries through various interventions.

Gender and Climate Justice: Raising Awareness, Building Capacity, and Influencing Policies within SADC

 GenderCCSA-Women for Climate Justice


  1. Overview

GenderCC Southern Africa – Women for Climate Justice (GenderCCSA) is grateful for the partnerhship with the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) over the past three years. This partnership contributed significantly to the work of GenderCCSA and providded an opportunity to expand its work to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This project reached its overall objective where grassroots women living in poverty and impacted by climate change are educated about various ways to adapt and use natural resources to improve resilience to climate change and contribute to sustainable livelihoods. Various activities under this project have been implemented in South Africa and Zimbabwe that contributed towards the overall goal of the project is to contribute to integrating gender in climate change related policy making and adaptation strategies and capacity development in grassroots communities.

The overall goal of the project was to contribute to integrating gender in climate change related policy making and adaptation strategies in the SADC region and the project is focusing on capacity development in grassroots communities in Zimbabwe and South Africa where there is great need for information about climate change and adaptation; where there are opportunities for influencing policy during policy development at the national and local level; and where there are partners who are working closely with women’s CBOs and environmental groups and equally well connected with relevant government institutions and actively participating in the gender advocacy on climate change at the international level.

Through this project, grassroots women living in poverty and already impacted by climate change were educated about various ways to adapt and use natural resources to improve resilience to climate change and contribute to sustainable livelihoods. These included how to make a “Wonder bag”, food processing as well as learning how to build and maintain a biogas digester. The biogas installed at the GreenHouse People’s Environmental Centre is very popular and various organisations have expressed interest in being trained on how to make biogas digesters. This is mainly because a lot of grassroots women have only heard about a biogas digester but never had an opportunity to see one and learn how it works. They believe it will change their lives and give them energy and fertiliser for their farms.

GenderCCSA developed partnerships with local and national NGOs working on gender and women’s issues, and local and provincial authorities in SADC, and partner with them to host gender and climate justice capacity building workshops. These include UN Women; the Rural Women Assembly which is a self-organised network or alliance of national rural women’s movements, assemblies, grassroots organisations and chapters of mixed peasant unions, federations and movements across eight countries in the SADC region; and Womin-African Women Unite Against Destructive Resource Extraction which is an African gender and extractives alliance, which works alongside national and regional movements and popular organisations of women, mining-impacted communities and peasants, and in partnership with other sympathetic organisations

Some Demands by women to the Government as it emerged from the women through out this project:

Governments should take the following immediate steps in the UNFCCC COPs to address the clear and present danger posed to rural communities by the climate crisis.

  • Africa has contributed least to climate change, but is the worst affected. Historical emitters who are responsible for greenhouse gases (GHGs) must help African women to face the climate related challenges.
  • Proper recognition of women’s critical role in fighting climate change and protecting livelihoods and the environment despite widespread violation of their equal right to land. They should not be seen as victims, but agents of change.
  • Governments should make sure that women farmers get an equal chance of attending the
  • Financial support for women farmers must be commensurate to their numbers and crucial role. We need support to agriculture go to women farmers because they are the bread baskets for nations.
  • Climate change solutions must put indigenous knowledge systems at the centre of policies to promote biodiversity, rehabilitate our ecosystems and rebuild the livelihoods. Rural women are the holders of indigenous knowledge–our marginalisation from economic production, scientific knowledge generation and social systems has resulted in the steady loss of such knowledge to Africa, thereby making us more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
  • We demand an end to false climate solutions which are resulting in a deterioration of our environments due to unsustainable resource extraction and consumption.
  • We demand that more finances should be invested in renewables so that we do way with draggery associated women’s chores in a changing climate.
  • Awareness and education is key to the life of a Zimbabwean and or African Woman

Solutions to climate change:

  • There is need for establishment of an unconditional climate change fund for mitigation and adaptation
  • Leave coal, oil and gas in the ground and make sure that people can afford to fuel their homes with renewable energy.
  • Stop cutting down forests and protect the rights of communities who live in them.
  • Change the way we produce and access food so that people are able to grow and consume good, affordable food which has been grown locally.
  • Take more care about our natural resources by empowering communities who live near them.


This project has been very successful and exceeded its original goals and expectations. It has been a landmark achievement for GenderCC Southern Africa (GenderCCSA) within both the gender and the climate change movements that there is a platform that joins the issues of gender and climate change and provided grassroots women with a voice to raise their own issues in the climate and environment discourse, especially during the climate response policy process in Zimbabwe and in the build up to the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris.

The project has also made a huge contribution in raising awareness of issues of gender and climate change in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique at a critical time where Zimbabwe was developing its National Climate Change Response Strategy and also hosting the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris in 2015. These developments provided the project with an unusual opportunity to be part of many initiatives that were key in mobilising the voices of grassroots women and also to ensure that all they are aware of climate change and how it will impact them.

The project focused on awareness raising and the provision of information on gender and climate capacity through capacity building and awareness-raising workshops at the grassroots level which has been implemented in partnership with various partners including grassroots organisations as well as providing skills training to on various local climate change adaptation strategies. These ranged from learning how to build and use biogas digesters, making Wonder bags, processing food prodce as well as learning various ways for small holder women farmers to adapt their farming practices to a changing climate.


 “The Sustainable Use of Natural Resources to Improve Resilience in South Africa: A Grassroots Womens Initiative” 2014-2017 

Women are the key drivers of Improving Resilience to Climate Change in Giyani and Tzaneen in Limpopo and Green Park and Khayelitsha in the Western Cape

Adaptation to climate change is a highly localised activity and its success depends on the involvement of women and Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and church organisations for it to become sustainable.  “The Sustainable Use of Natural Resources to Improve Climate Change Resilience in South Africa: A Grassroots Women’s Initiative an EU-Oxfam Cofounded three year project  was  implemented by GenderCCSA in Limpopo and the Western Cape from 2014- February 2017. It is one such project in which the women were responsible for the implementation of the project and were prepared to look for solutions to make their lives worthwhile by getting organised and forming cooperatives and self-help groups.    The project targeted mainly disadvantaged women dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, with few physical resources, assets to sell and make money, few financial resources and without any access to markets. The project used a “learn and build methodology” in which awareness training on gender integration in climate change adaptation,  water management , access to sustainable energy  and waste management in which government officials in Limpopo, NGOs , village leaders, and mostly the women farmers undertook  a process of skills training in the installation, using, and maintaining the renewable technologies. The training of women champions involved the installation of water harvesting tanks, biogas digesters to produce energy for cooking and heating, establishing organic food gardens, and solar powered boreholes.  This project has proved that, whilst women are vulnerable to climate change, they can also become resilient if access to water, renewable energy, and skills building and strengthening in project implementation and access to markets is addressed in a gender sensitive way, what is required is continued support in resources and skills development in which the women play a key role.

Women traditionally tend to have limited decision making powers with regards to matters that concern households and society including project design and implementation. Their multiple gender roles in carrying out household chores, that is caring for the family including being food producers and providers as subsistence farmers means that climate change causes a heavy burden on them in their day to day lives especially in water scarce regions of the Mopani district of Limpopo and informal settlements in Khayelitsha and Green Park in the Western Cape where there is no access to energy.  At the same time, they are also the drivers of the change that society envisage in most families because of their knowledge of the local conditions and resources and using the available land and natural resources. However, involving them as key drivers in project design, implementation, learning and exchange programmes as well as skills training in adaptation projects will only enhance their ability and knowledge to contribute to better adapt and improving resilience to the impacts of climate change.

The project so far has seen more than hundred and fifty  women receiving further training in sustainable farming methods and most of them setting up food gardens at their homes and becoming more and more inclined to use organic farming methods. The women now have acquired more skills training in food processing and packaging as well as producing ointments from the medicinal herbs. The women have also set up committees to manage the garden and set up structures to manage the garden as well as sell the produce from the gardens and look after the installed equipment.   Although the income generated from the sale of the garden produce, that is the vegetables and the herbs is still very small, it has set up in motion the exchange of ideas among the women to set up cooperatives and how to manage a cooperative with the hope of exploring ways to market their produce, especially, the herbs as well as producing different types, medicines, ointments and soaps and creams for their own use as well as to generate more income.  This has somehow unleashed the creativity and teamwork and leadership skills among the women in managing the project and to ensure sustainability.   Furthermore, the skills training in renewable energy especially the training received during the installation of the biogas digester, solar Pvs to produce energy for the school feeding scheme has shifted the mind-sets of most women in the use and maintenance of the biogas digesters and a number of similar biogases are being installed in the neighbouring villages in Limpopo.

Whilst the project has been driven by women, existing social structures, culture, and religion have been integrated in order to create the building blocks for project ownership    by the community for the sustainability of the project.  The training on the installation, use and maintenance of the equipment has empowered the women thereby making them masters of their own destiny. The women are responsible in looking after the equipment installed and seeking for assistance in ensuring that maintenance work is carried out if some of the equipment is broken or not working well, most of the times they all sit under a tree if there is a problem so that they can come up with solutions to solve their day to day survival challenges and give each other tips and sharing best practices on adapting to climate change. In Giyani, where water is a real challenge, the women have started using grey water that they purify using ashes stored in drums to reuse to water their home gardens. Most of the women when they are resting after working in the gardens and feeding the biogas digester to produce the gas they have resorted to beading, and exchanging information about how best to sell their produce, counselling each other and giving each other tips on economically improving their lives and those of their families. All these activities are self-driven in order for the women to become more and more self-reliant.     Whist women are vulnerable to climate change, they can also become resilient if access to water, renewable energy, and skills building and strengthening in project implementation and access to markets  is addressed in a gender sensitive way, what is required is continued support in resources and skills development. Most of all a participatory approach and ongoing capacity building is important in ensuring that the beneficiaries have “buy in” in all aspects of the project cycle. This way the saying that “If you transform one woman you transform the whole nation” becomes a reality in building resilience to climate change.