Cultivating Climate Smart Agriculture and Gender Equality in Rural Uganda

women planting in Uganda.

By involving women in sustainable food forums, we can harness their knowledge, skills and agency to develop climate-resilient, gender-responsive, and sustainable food systems that contribute to both environmental and social well-being.

Project context

Women are disproportionately affected by climate change, particularly in rural and agricultural communities where they play a significant role in food production and household management. Although they have few rights and are unable to own land, women possess valuable knowledge and expertise in sustainable food production, conservation and resource management. Their traditional practices, indigenous knowledge, and intergenerational wisdom can contribute to innovative and context-specific solutions for building resilient and sustainable food systems. Women also play a crucial role in ensuring food security and nutrition for their families and communities. By involving women in sustainable food forums and empowering women in sustainable food systems, we can support climate justice, which emphasizes the need for inclusive and equitable solutions to climate change. 

The need for innovation within this space is compelling. The food sector alone accounts for over 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Food systems are experiencing a radical transition in response to socio-economic and demographic changes. Rising incomes, rapid urbanization and growing middle classes have led to strong adjustments in dietary preferences and consumer behavior and require public and private investments for improved food market integration. Increasing agro-food production has only partially translated into less hunger and certainly has not been accompanied by a reduction in malnutrition. While there are currently thousands of people still suffering from under nutrition, several other people are over-weight or obese mainly due to dietary insufficiencies. The situation has not only worsened in urban areas but also in rural areas where we witness the escalating costs of diet-related diseases and environmental degradation which have led to growing attention to food system inclusiveness and sustainability.

A sustainable food system is understood as a system in which all activities are sustainable from an environmental, economic and social point of view. Moreover, around 1/3 of the food produced for human consumption is wasted or lost. Making our urban food systems more sustainable can thus yield major benefits in terms of carbon intensity and resource efficiency. It involves notably the use of local and seasonal products (short supply chains), improving diets (reducing the share of animal protein and processed foods), using products that meet environmental and sustainability criteria (certification), promoting self-production (fruit and vegetable gardens, use of derelict lands), and preventing waste (food and its packaging).

This project will provide communities with a variety of ways to get involved in food solutions. In this case, farmers will be supported to grow fruit and vegetables in gardens, in parks, on rooftops, on balconies, on derelict lands etc. Safeguarding and improving fertility of lands. We will also support initiatives on food delivery, that are more sustainable and less carbon intensive way and also support local people to enjoy more sustainable food. More initiatives of the same nature can emerge in schools, by farmers, hotels, restaurants and Local Governments.

The local people can form and join the local food network and local food support groups which will support integrated approaches of making food chains more sustainable and working together to adopt the best practices for sustainable food production and trade by providing a permanent space where the different stakeholders of the food sector will work together to address common challenges and find adequate and practical solutions. The local food network will bring together producers, their organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, exporter groups, food producing companies, retailers, traders, consumer associations, governments, research institutions, universities and civil society organizations.

BIWA will work with farmers, community and commercial fruit and vegetable growers and food producers, local producers, food suppliers, distributors, retailers, food vendors, purchasing groups, networks as well as hotels, canteens, restaurants, schools, urban consumer groups and all other actors that are involved in food production and consumption. BIWA will bring together policy makers, individuals and other relevant stakeholders on the importance of building a sustainable and more localized food system. The target groups are further categorized as follows;

The theme of “Growing” sustainable food focuses on individuals, community and commercial fruit and vegetable growers and food producers; households and citizen’s organizations.

The theme of “Delivering” focuses on local producers; food suppliers, distributors, retailers, food vendors, purchasing groups, networks.

The theme on “Enjoying” is focusing on hotels, canteens, restaurants, schools, final consumers, urban consumer groups, low-income households and single person households

BIWA will launch sustainable food forums where different stakeholders will work to develop low-carbon and resource efficient urban food systems, by focusing on three areas: growing, delivering and enjoying food.

GROWING: fruit and vegetable in the municipality, in gardens, in parks, on rooftops, on balconies, on derelict lands etc., safeguarding and improving fertility of lands.

DELIVERING: food stuffs in a more sustainable and less carbon intensive way

ENJOYING: more sustainable food (local products, without pesticides, seasonal and fresh products etc) while improving diets (reducing the share of animal protein and processed foods), using products that meet environmental and sustainability criteria (certification), and preventing waste (food and its packaging).

BIWA welcomes SUNY students to join in this important work, contributing to priority initiatives indicated below. Please indicate preference and related experience in your letter of inquiry.

Project opportunities

Student projects will connect with the following priority activities. Please indicate preference and any related skills or experience in inquiry email.

  1. Help develop a framework and action plan                                  Underline priority areas of intervention to build sustainable and resilient food systems                                                                                                               
  2. Farm Express Program                                                                      Promotes access to fresh, healthy food by connecting local farmers with schools, worksites, and food service operations and with shoppers through a network of farmers                                                                                                       
  3. Sustainable Kitchen Program                                                              Offers community cooking classes and nutrition education classes for the preparation of meals that are delicious, nutritious, seasonal and affordable, ensuring lasting dietary changes                                                             
  4. Double Shillings Program                                                                  Doubles the amount of food assistance to be spent on fresh, local fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and farm stands                                            
  5. Monitoring and Evaluation                                                                Assessing and documenting success and reach of programs toward building greater capacity for support

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Variable
Start time Fall, Spring, Summer
Level of collaboration Variable
Benefits Sustainability Digital Badge
Who is eligible Students of all majors and backgrounds are welcome to apply

Core partners

Annah Atuhaire

Bright Ideas for Women (BIWA)

Bright Ideas for Women in need Association (BIWA) is a women’s led organization bringing together women activists, women’s groups, women HRDs, marginalized women, adolescent girls, street girls and teenage mothers in rural areas of Uganda.  Founded in 2017, BIWA is working to promote and protect the rights of women, addressing gender inequalities, promoting peace and justice, climate justice and building an inclusive society where marginalized women and girls are empowered to foster sustainable development.

Project mentor

Mara Huber

Associate Dean, Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning; Director, Experiential Learning Network

127 Capen Hall

Phone: (716) 829-2834


SUNY SDG Project Challenge

This project is for students interested in the SUNY SDG Project Challenge.

Express Interest

  1. Email ELN with letter of interest at to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to send this email)
  2. After you send your email expressing your interest, click the button to schedule a meeting to discuss the project. (Please be sure to include your letter of interest when scheduling the event)


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