Empowering Women in Rural Uganda through Sustainable Agriculture

BIWODA leaders pointing to their village.

Work with a collective of women farmers in Uganda on sustainable agriculture and energy innovation

Project context

Poverty and gender are closely linked in rural communities around the world. Women who are largely responsible for the health and wellbeing of their children have limited access to education and training and are unable to develop the skills and knowledge needed to pursue economic opportunity. In many rural villages in East Africa, women struggle to support basic needs including food, healthcare and education. They often work the land, growing crops and produce. But with little resources and knowledge about sustainable agricultural practices, their efforts contribute to continued vulnerability exacerbated  by climate change. Yet despite this pattern, rural women represent an important stakeholder group poised for growth and impact, especially women working together and are committed to supporting sustainability and empowerment. 

Biringo Uganda serves as a compelling example of a community poised for impact but struggling in the face of climate change. In Biringo, women farm to provide for their children but lack access to financial resources. surviving on approximately 2,000 Ugandan Shillings a day. Without credit or collateral, it is impossible to grow businesses or own assets required as security for loans. Despite these hardships, however, there is reason to be hopeful for the future of women in Biringo. In 2014, BIWODA was formed as a collective of women farmers from Biringo Uganda with the goal of working together to address community development and achieve self-sufficiency. Focused on eradicating poverty through sustainable agriculture, BIWODA has grown to include 183 members from the surrounding community, and is run through volunteer leadership. 

As the founder of BIWODA, Deo Mbabazi committed to helping this group and is eager to work with SUNY students. Deo wants students to know that he is the direct beneficiary of the women of Biringo. He shares,

"Having been raised in this region of Uganda, I was surrounded by these women who are my mothers. And I was supported by their efforts to pay for my education- first my primary and secondary schooling and then my university degree in Social Work which I obtained from Kampala University in 2016. While completing my studies I worked with the women to start BIWODA as a vehicle for making change. Early successes have included a farming store for harvesting and storing crops, a micro-lending project, and a tailoring program offering sewing and mending clothes. These initiatives have established a foundation for growth and have readied BIWODA women for the following projects aligned with UN Goals and targets."

BIWODA women with UB librarian Cindi Tysick.

Project opportunities

Students will be selected to work on the following categories of projects- please note interest in application letter/email.

SDG #1.1- Eradicate extreme poverty for people everywhere 

Farming is at the foundation of women’s lives in Biringa. In many ways the region is well suited to this practice. The soil is very fertile and the conditions support diverse crops including cereal, legumes, and root crops- especially irish and sweet potatoes and some fruit trees like avocado and Pawpaw. In order to leverage the potential of agriculture, however, women need to learn about sustainable practices that can enhance their yield while nurturing the soil and land for future cultivation. Our ability to research sustainable practices is limited due to poor internet connectivity and ability to engage with experts and expertise. BIWODA will work with students to engage in discovery, develop initial needs assessments and documentation of land conditions and pilot new farming techniques that can be developed and scaled with a focus on generating revenue and supporting community needs.

SDG 5.1- Eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls everywhere

BIWODA will empower its members to participate more fully in civic and community life towards the goal of improving outcomes for themselves and their families. Together with SUNY students, BIWODA women will explore avenues for empowerment and develop knowledge and skills that will allow them to access and leverage opportunities for growth and empowerment. Emphasis will be given to models of social entrepreneurship and collectives that have been successfully implemented in rural communities of women in East Africa and other parts of the developing world. Students will also work to identify key skills and competencies and develop related trainings or resources aligned with target opportunities. 

SDG 7.1 - Ensure access to affordable and reliable and modern energy sources

As BIWODA women work to generate revenue through agriculture-related efforts, they have prioritized renewable energy as a key priority and are seeking students to help with planning and strategic development. BIWODA women currently use firewood to support cooking needs. Although trees are available in the villages, firewood is very expensive with pole costing 10000 shillings each. Since most women cannot afford to buy trees for firewood they end up traveling by foot into the hills to fetch wood. This makes them vulnerable to sexual harassment and even rape. Alternative energy sources include eco-stoves which are more efficient and use less fuel allowing women to save money and time. They also offer environmental benefits and can use renewable fuels such as briquettes. BIWODA women are eager to explore alternate energy sources and develop plans to support a shift in utilization.


dancing to welcome UB librarian Cindi Tysick.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Semester-long engagement
Start time Spring or Summer
In-person, remote, or hybrid? Remote
Level of collaboration Individual or small group project (2-3 students)
Benefits Digital Badge
Who is eligible
All majors welcome

Core partners

BIWODA Women's Organization

Project mentor

Mara Huber

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

127 Capen Hall

Phone: (716) 829-2834

Email: mbhuber@buffalo.edu

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 mbhuber@buffalo.edu 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)