Agricultural services support programme and socio-economic empowerment of rural women in Zanzibar, Tanzania

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Sokoine University of Agriculture


Women in Zanzibar are socially and economically disadvantaged in many aspects. In view of this, the government made efforts to ensure women empowerment through development programmes such as Agriculture Services Support Programme (ASSP). However, the extent of socio-economic empowerment on women in rural areas is scanty. Therefore, this study aimed at assessing the contribution of ASSP intervention to socio- economic empowerment of rural women in Zanzibar. Specifically, the study assessed the ASSP empowerment strategies, women participation levels and attitude towards ASSP. The study also compared empowerment levels between programme and non-programme members. Primary data were collected using a structured questionnaire from 200 women in ten shehia of Mkoani district. Women empowerment levels were measured by using a Women Empowerment Index (WEI). The hypothesis to demonstrate the differences of women empowerment between programme and non-programme members was tested using Mann-Whitney U-test. The results showed high extent of women participation in study visits, training and regular meetings and moderate participation was noted on Participatory Action Research (PAR) and Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). Women benefited socially and economically due to their participation in ASSP. The results suggested high level of empowerment for women in the ASSP programme. This was confirmed by Mann-Whitney U-test, which revealed increased in women decision making on production resources, increase in income and contribution on household expenses. However, mobility decision and asset ownership did not differ among ASSP and non- ASSP members due to Islamic socialization culture. Women’s attitude towards ASSP was positive indicating that strategies used to empower women were appropriate, while the lack of investment capital and time constraints hampered women's participation in the programme. Based on these findings, it is concluded that the initiative taken by theiii government through ASSP left significant change on rural women's socio-economic status in Mkoani district. However, consideration of the women financial support is among other things recommended for other coming women empowerment programmes.



Zanzibar, Mkoani, Women empowerment, Socio-economic activities, Agriculture, Agriculture systems