Women-owned Keyhole Gardens - Keyhole gardens contribute to women’s economic empowerment in Ghana

Women-owned Keyhole Gardens - Keyhole gardens contribute to women’s economic empowerment in Ghana

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) implemented a pilot to extend the growing season for female farmers with the ultimate goal of contributing towards improved food security for women and their families in Northwestern Ghana. The project tested two water catchment, storage and irrigations systems: ferro-cement tanks and keyhole gardens. MEDA completed an evaluation of these technologies in February 2015.

MEDA’s summative evaluation assessed outcomes, including income generation for women and increased household access to nutritious foods. The evaluation also tested the technology’s affordability and gender sensitivity. Existing literature and MEDA research informed the evaluation. Using a mixed methods approach, the evaluation gathered data from 34 clients and community members. Quantitative data was continuously collected on garden water and crop consumption, while qualitative data was gathered via female and male individual interviews and focus group discussions.

Results of the evaluation show that ferro-cement tanks are too expensive for wide-scale commercial scale-up. However, even without the tanks, the keyhole gardens successfully extended the growing season and benefitted women. Key results include: 100% of participating households have access to vegetables and 91% of women generate income from vegetable sales. Of the women who earn income, 100% save for various purposes, including school fees, emergencies, child inheritance and income generating activities. When women were asked what changes they had experienced as a result of the garden, 58% reported increased marital harmony, 50% cited improved household nutrition and 50% mentioned improved payment of school fees.

  • 58% reported increased marital harmony
  • 50% cited improved household nutrition
  • 50% mentioned improved payment of school fees.

In part due to gender norms, women bear the dominant responsibility for garden maintenance; 50% of women reported an increase in labour burden. However, all women emphasized that the change was not significant; 42% of women had more labour-intensive work last year. As a result of the pilot’s promising results, this evaluation brief offers recommendations for gender sensitive design, implementation and scale up.