For mobilizing and organising women groups beneficiaries of FLOWII project that is implemented in Murundi and Gitesi sectors of Karongi district, TUBIBE AMAHORO through this project supported women groups to create adaptation plans. Women farmers groups have not been able to meet regularly to discuss their issues because their REFLECT circles have been interrupted by the actual COVID-19 from March 2020. However, Women groups have been resourceful and model in their community.

Mobilizing women on the mitigation and Response to Covid-19, photo Karongi 2020

Women have been supported with tools such as step and wash, gloves for groups accountants, facemasks, saving booklets for group members, etc…; to facilitate the management of their groups and to motivate members to strengthen self-help group methodology’s implementation. These tools are also addressing how to support their groups as leaders of community-level response efforts and maintain safety nets. This initiative has been considered as part of a broader emergency response in line with Covid-19 response plan.

Further, there has been a mitigation of an increased risk of VAWG through addressing women’s rights and needs. Increased lockdowns and movement restrictions might put them at greater risk for VAWG, particularly intimate partner violence and other forms of VAWG. TUBIBE AMAHORO adapted and integrated proven approaches to reducing VAWG. TUBIBE AMAHORO has put in place a monitoring and feedback system to mitigate increased risks of VAWG and sexual exploitation and abuse.

The top priority for women groups has been to help groups understand the current crisis and its potential impacts (health, economic, social) and support them to develop adaptation plans that are cognizant to REFLECT circles’ best practices:

*Changing meeting procedures: Women groups have changed how, when and if they meet to ensure social distancing and hygiene practices are applied. This includes splitting into smaller groups, ensuring handwashing at the beginning and end of their REFLECT meetings, reducing the number of people attending, limiting cash handling among members and other measures to make sure their members stay safe. In some contexts, women groups have suspended operations.

*Sharing health messages about how to prevent and respond to COVID-19: Women groups’ facilitators and POWER project officer have used text messages, and other technologies to amplify health messages from the government as well as messaging specifically related to mitigating VAWG and supporting survivors.

*Refocusing finances: The women groups are focusing on getting cash into the hands of members who will need it to help them in the crisis. That included accelerating share outs of their savings, suspending lending, or using the social fund to cover costs for group or member adaptation.

The social funds of women groups’ savings enabled coping because Women were 3.7 times more likely to use their savings’ social funds to cope with Covid-19 shocks than they were before the pandemic and 51% more likely to rely on their own savings.

In fact, COVID-19 crisis is likely to have a significant impact on the ability of rural women to continue to earn the minimum income needed for subsistence and as a consequence, levels of food insecurity is rising. This is especially true amongst the most economically vulnerable women-headed households.

During these days of COVID-19, rural women are not meeting as usual for decision-making and leadership roles in preparing response and mitigation strategies to sustain post Covid-19 livelihoods. Women groups members have been affected psychologically and they seem not to be active in their daily on farm and off farm activities

All in all, women groups’ beneficiaries of FLOWII project managed to cope easily with Covid-19 effects than no members of groups and finally, women’s capacity for financial management and access to savings during this pandemic significantly helped the families during this uncertain period

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