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Celebrating International Women’s Day: Witness Kabyazi & Hawa Yusuph

A farmer walking through her farm in Tanzania.

This year’s International Women’s Day is March 8th. It is a time to reflect on, answer a calling for, and celebrate everyone’s role in helping forge a better working world for all people. LWR will be introducing you to women whose leadership is helping LWR fight poverty and support men and women farmers. We are grateful to have them be a part of the worldwide LWR family and partners. #BeBoldForChange Read part one and two of the series.

Witness Kabyazi is a board member of a small scale coffee farmers cooperative in Tanzania, KDCU (Karagwe District Cooperative Union). We celebrate Witness for championing work that helps women and men lift their families out of poverty. Established in 1990, the cooperative serves over 20,000 coffee farmers. LWR’s project with KDCU to strengthen capacities and market linkages while improving member relationships started in 2014 and will finish in 2018. Witness provides leadership in communicating that the mission of the union and with the members of the union, as well as making sure goals are reached.

“I became interested in development because I saw the need to include women to help change the economic situation of family and community.”

For Witness, supporting women who are improving their standards of life, economically and socially, through education and practice is a source of motivation. The improvements from training better farming practices leads to greater quality and quantity of crops which changes farming families’ lives because they can sufficiently provide for their needs. Witness hopes she can be an example to other women and men in the region so that there can be more leaders who understand the importance of agricultural cooperatives.

 

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“It goes without saying that poverty is bad. It pains me to see my neighbor poor with little to eat, no money to purchase necessities, and living in poorly constructed houses. Through this development project, we managed to reduce the percentage of poverty in my village but that is just the beginning.”

Hawa Yusuph is one of the seven founders of UWAZAMAM (Mpunguzi Agricultural and Marketing Cooperative Society). We celebrate Hawa for championing work that helps link farmers to markets and lift their families out of poverty. The cooperative started in 2010 with 50 members and quickly grew to 202 members in one year thanks to their success in negotiating fair prices from processors of grapes. Hawa is the chairperson and provides leadership about the operation of the cooperative, as well as manage LWR’s relationship with the cooperative.

LWR worked with UWAZAMAM from 2011 to 2015 to accompany existing efforts to increase production and market linkages. “Before UWAZAMAM joined the development project, one acre of grape farm produced one metric ton of grapes on average but after the project, grape farmers produced up to five metric tonnes per acre.” The cooperative now has its own factory to process grape juice which increases the value of farmers’ harvest and improves their income. In fact, UWAZAMAM secured a contract with a large winery in Tanzania to sell grape juice. Hawa plans to establish a larger processing factory in the next few years.

LWR & UWAZAMAM sign