Danielle Nierenberg with the staff of FANRPAN in Pretoria, South Africa (Photo Credit: Bernard Pollack)
The Food and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network’s (FANRPAN) Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) project aims at strengthening the capacity of women farmers influence in agriculture policy development and programmes in Southern Africa. It doesn’t sound especially entertaining—but it has some innovative strategies for bridging the divide between women farmers, researchers, and policy makers.
FANRPAN is using Theatre for Policy Advocacy to engage leaders, service providers, and policymakers; encourage community participation; and research the needs of women farmers. Essentially, theatre is being used to explain agricultural policy to people in rural areas, and to carry voices from the countryside back to government. Popular theatre personalities travel to communities in Mozambique and Malawi and stage performances using scripts based on FANRPAN’s research, to engage members of the community. After each performance, community members, women, men, youth, local leaders are engaged in facilitated dialogues. The dialogues give all community member—especially women—a chance to openly talk about the challenges they are facing without upsetting the status quo. More importantly, it allows women to tell development organizations what they really need, not the other way around.
Ultimately, FANRPAN hopes to train women community leaders to use the theatre advocacy platform to discuss other issues and problems in their villages, including HIV/AIDS. And because this project involves all members of the community, it doesn’t alienate men, but includes them in developing solutions.
For more information on FANRPAN and its work in Africa see the following www.fanrpan.org