Based in Kano, Nigeria, Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN) works with 250 women's groups in five different states in northern Nigeria in an effort to mobilise, train, and support rural men and women in the management of information and communication. Community participation is a key strategy; local extension agents are trained to support fellow citizens in health, agriculture, literacy, income generation, and early childhood development. WOFAN also organises a weekly radio broadcast that features the efforts of rural women.
Communication Strategies: 

WOFAN engages in research and information dissemination, training efforts, community development programmes, social mobilisation/advocacy, and partnership and networking with organisations that have similar objectives. General strategies involve:

  • providing a forum through which members of rural Nigerian communities can express themselves
  • encouraging the formation of commodity groups to garner access to agricultural, credit, and insurance facilities
  • introducing labour-saving technologies including modern farming implements and the use of solar energy.

More specifically, "train the trainers" activities use community-based facilitators to provide basic technical, literacy, and problem-solving skills to rural Nigerians. Each extension agent, or trainer, manages a minimum of two rural groups (each of which is made up of ten rural women) in an effort to provide leadership and support in the process of community development. Since 2000, these women's groups have been producing a weekly 30-minute radio programme broadcast by the local radio station. WOFAN provided the women with recording equipment and receivers, and each week they address issues like AIDS, water quality, harmful traditional practices, and politics.

WOFAN supports environmental protection through education. For example, WOFAN encourages parents to help their children receive both Koranic and regular education. To bolster this message, WOFAN helped villagers build a classroom to relieve the strain of 60 children being crammed into a small, windowless hut. A nearby centre was established to allow women to get vocational and skills training. This centre helps women apply for loans to start up small businesses. WOFAN also provides communities with tree seedlings. It has trained farmers to produce cash crops and crops that will improve their family's diet. WOFAN's advocacy efforts also address gender relations and the rural poor (especially the landless households), with special emphasis on households headed by women.

Development Issues: 

Women, Agriculture, Environment, Gender, Economic Development, Technology.

Key Points: 

WOFAN was founded in the early 1990s. Initially, WOFAN helped women farmers in rural areas with health issues and agricultural technology. It has expanded to address the following needs:

  • The need to improve the involvement of traditional authorities in the implementation of development oriented projects, through a "bottom —up" approach;
  • The need to enhance the level of grassroots participation in rural development projects;
  • The need to promote effective micro planing of land and water resources use and conservation;
  • The need to increase the share of small enterprises in the provision of agro-based services, such as pest control and food processing;
  • The need to support the community from a holistic point of view, thereby providing service through health, education, childcare, economic and political empowerment of community members.

WOFAN's future plans include:

  • Training of other NGOs in strategic methods of dealing with rural communities;
  • Exploring further areas of collaboration between WOFAN and other NGOs;
  • Continuing the award by WOFAN of micro-credits to rural community members;
  • Utilising cowpea seeds, young pods, and fodder for nutritional purpose both for human beings and animals;
  • Providing further training in the area of STD/HIV/AIDS awareness;
  • Empowering women farmers both politically and economically.
Partner Text: 

The Electronic Community; British Council, Kano; UNDP (national and state levels); Canada Funds, Lagos; UNICEF, Bauchi; Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Lagos; IFAD Project, Katsina and Sokoto States; Community Development Project, Jos; DEC, Bauchi and Enugu; NIRADO, Lagos; NEST, Ibadan; Food Basket International, Ibadan; Federation of African Media Women/SADC-Zimbabwe-FAMW/SADC; CRUDAN, Jos; Women's Health & Economic Development Association Of Nigeria (WHEDA), Akwa Ibom State; Rahama Women Groups, Bauchi; Bernard Van Leer Foundation, Netherlands.