A Conversation with Annet Namunane on the Use of the Gender-Based Violence Toolkit for Agriculture and Market Systems Programs
Larissa Schneider, senior specialist with MarketShare Associates (MSA), shares key takeaways from her conversation with Annet Namunane, gender and social inclusion (GESI) advisor with Feed the Future’s Inclusive Agriculture Markets (IAM) Activity, which pilot tested the “Toolkit to Address Gender-Based Violence in Agriculture and Market Systems Development.”
The USAID Feed the Future Advancing Women’s Empowerment (AWE) Program, implemented by EnCompass LLC with core partners ACDI/VOCA, MSA and FHI 360, recently launched the “Toolkit to Address Gender-Based Violence in Agriculture and Market Systems Development,” or GBV in Ag Toolkit. This toolkit provides practical, “how-to” guidance for staff working on agriculture and market systems development projects to understand, identify and integrate gender-based violence (GBV) response activities and mechanisms into existing programs.
As part of developing the GBV in Ag Toolkit, AWE worked with the IAM Activity to pilot test it in Uganda from May 2021 to January 2022. IAM, implemented by DAI Global Inc. with MSA and TechnoServe, is a five-year activity that seeks to increase households’ incomes and improve their livelihoods in the agricultural sector in 38 districts in Uganda.
AWE program staff in the United States provided remote technical assistance to train the IAM team on the toolkit. This pilot phase continued over a nine-month period, and engaged over 20 staff, implementing partners (IPs) and private sector partner staff. During the pilot phase, training sessions were facilitated in June, July and August 2021 and a deep dive session was conducted in September 2021 to help project staff to apply the toolkit in their work. After the onboarding, staff devoted 10% of their work time to the toolkit, and applied it in their work, also participating in work planning sessions for 2022.
You can learn more about the results of the pilot in our learning brief on Pilot Testing of the Toolkit to Address Gender-Based Violence in Agriculture and Market Systems Development.
Unpacking the Pilot: Key Takeaways from IAM’s GESI Advisor
Now that more than six months have passed since the pilot concluded, we wanted to check in with IAM’s GESI advisor, Annet Namunane, who led much of the pilot implementation process, to better understand what impact the toolkit may have had on the project team, partners and in support of reaching the Activity’s objectives. Below are key takeaways that come from our conversation with Namunane.
Impact on Activity Staff
According to Namunane, the IAM team continued to onboard new staff to the toolkit throughout the pilot testing and after its conclusion. IAM introduced all new staff to the GBV in Ag Toolkit as an important resource for their work. Namunane notes that doing so has led to a greater awareness of what is happening with partners or cooperatives in the field at the implementation level, but also within the project team.
For example, following the toolkit pilot period, IAM staff became highly aware of the types of GBV that may occur in the workplace, such as identifying inappropriate behavior. As a result of the training, the staff are not only aware of the safety of partners, but also their own safety and that of their colleagues, which has engendered a safer working environment for all. The team can now better identify and respond to any instance of GBV in the workplace and within project activities. IAM is also conducting refresher training to staff on reporting lines and who they can reach out to when experiencing or witnessing GBV.
The IAM team is also working toward establishing a focal person at all four field offices, in addition to IAM’s central or “headquarters” office. While the GESI and human resources departments are primarily responsible for responding to GBV-related issues, the team aspires to have all staff equipped to address GBV if it comes to their attention in the course of their work.
As part of the pilot, GBV champions were trained to lead the implementation of the toolkit with staff and partners, allocating 10% of their overall time to this. Namunane observed that the self-selected GBV champions showed a lot of enthusiasm in continuing to identify and prioritize GBV in their work, even when their primary activities fell outside of the GBV scope. Further, Namunane noticed that the champions continue to have a keen eye for anything that intersects with their work and GBV.
Beyond the existing GBV champions, new and existing staff have expressed interest in becoming GBV champions. With the staff supported training, more staff realize they can be proactive in reporting instances of GBV across their work. For now, it is not yet feasible to train more champions; however, the current champions continue to encourage all staff to be vigilant and report instances of GBV as they emerge across the Activity.
Collaboration with Government
Under Uganda’s Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD), the National GBV Response Department has developed a database to collect information on instances of GBV and have deployed incident reporting tools for the private sector and other organizations. The IAM project decided to utilize and introduce these existing reporting tools to private sector partners. IAM has been printing out these forms and tools and providing them to the project partners, according to Namunane. Each geographical district in Uganda has a subnational office under the MoGLSD where the forms can be submitted and tracked within a national system. This will better enable the government to have information on who within their areas is affected by GBV and how they have been supported. This also informs and strengthens national statistical activities by including more data on instances of GBV at the subnational level.
Additionally, the IAM project introduced the GBV in Ag Toolkit to Feed the Future’s Institutional and Systems Strengthening (ISS) Activity. In the coming months, IAM will collaborate with the ISS to rollout the toolkit at the national level through the government’s National Gender Community of Practice.
Collaboration with USAID IPs
Since the pilot’s close, the IAM Activity has hosted other USAID/Uganda IPs to share information on the pilot and the toolkit. The USAID Integrated Community Agriculture and Nutrition Activity integrated the toolkit into their five-year work plan, with built-in introductory and refresher training facilitated by IAM staff on the GBV in Ag Toolkit.
Collaboration with IAM Partners
IAM local partners, such as cooperatives, have expressed interest in training their own staff to become “gender change agents,” similar to GBV champions. As a result, IAM is developing training content and will work with these partners throughout the annual 16 Days of Activism against GBV in November/December 2023 to introduce the toolkit, more background on GBV in agriculture and train their staff as champions.
Refugee Settlements and Minority Communities
The IAM Activity is expanding into new areas of refugee settlements and working with identified ethnic minority communities, like Karamoja in Northern Uganda. Work in these areas will focus on leveraging the private sector to stimulate market growth, while identifying areas of GBV intersection with agriculture and market systems. The toolkit will be a critical feature introduced in this work with staff and partners to identify, mitigate and respond to the inevitable instances of GBV in vulnerable communities.
In Conclusion — Need for Greater Awareness Among the Private Sector
While the IAM Activity has two years left with its participating new partners and communities, the GBV in Ag Toolkit has already proven its critical importance as a support tool for both staff and with partners.
For the private sector, IAM has utilized the toolkit to help companies understand what they can do to support their farmers, contractors or staff who are experiencing, or are survivors of, abuse. Often, the companies did not know how to address this highly sensitive topic with their staff. With the toolkit, they are provided with local resources to reach out to for reporting and support.
However, there needs to be greater awareness raised amongst businesses and staff as employers, supervisors or managers can also be perpetrators of GBV. The toolkit helps de-risk interventions by making the business case that ignoring GBV hurts revenue. By taking small actions to eliminate GBV, performance, productivity and profitability can all improve.