Boosting value chains productivity through improved households relationships in Rwanda

Beatrice Gerli reports on Gender Action Learning Systems (GALS) in the case of DUHAMIC- ADRI, Muhanga District, Rwanda.

“After attending GALS trainings, I opened up with my wife Cotilda and discussed openly our issues. We are managing to solve our problems and we are much better off. Even the productivity of our activities has sharply increased!” proudly said Eria, one of the GALS champion in the Muhanga district in Rwanda. He also added that in May his family only had 10 Kg of Maize, and now 250 Kg, plus 150 Kg of Soy bean.

How is this possible? How could GALS trainings trigger such changes?

Let’s take a step back and try to understand what GALS is all about. GALS stands for Gender Action Learning System, a household methodology which helps people to define what they want to achieve – their vision-, realise where they are – the present situation- and the concrete steps that can lead them to make their vision their new reality.

In order to do so, people are guided in the analysis of the their present situation and facilitators help them to reflect on what are the deep causes of the challenges they face. All this, is done by drawings. Not only drawings are accessible also to non-literate people, but they also help to keep thoughts simple. If you can draw it, it means that you have it clear in your mind and that you can take immediate action. “When I draw my commitments I actually stick to them and I take action”, just as Eria said.

The journey route framework is the main GALS tool that help rural men and women to visualize through drawings what they would like to achieve, the actions that they have to take in order to do so, as well as the opportunities and challenges that might support or hinder them. Participants draw their journey route also in a booklet, which remains always with them as of reference. The vision of the journey route supports better communication and cooperation in the household, as well as improving the productivity of their value chain.
GALS thus supports the improvement of rural men and women’s livelihoods by helping them to address intra-household issues and better planning for family’s production.

The role of the community is also key: it provides support to men and women engaged in this transformative process and fosters peer learning from each other experiences. In the GALS process also the community develops a joint vision, visualizing its goals as a group and how to change attitudes and behaviour to harness the potential of their value chains

The ruteros visited on the 25 and 26 of September a community in the Muhanga district, where the organization DUHAMIC-ADRI integrated GALS in its value chain development programmes with the local cooperative. Thanks to the support of IFAD, Oxfam Novib and PROCASUR they are working on empowering the poorer stakeholders in the value chains. To make this happen, DUHAMIC-ADRI is fostering GALS strategies to transform gender relations in the households, in the cooperative and in the community at large, promoting win- win strategies that can boost productivity. 

The story of Eria is once again very telling: “When me and my wife were fighting, I felt that our paths had separated. She had to work by herself our land and I was drinking our savings, spending all my time at the bar far away from her and my kids. 7 months ago I was invited to attend GALS trainings: it opened my eyes and made me realize that I was harming myself and my family. I started to share with my wife what I was learning in the trainings, we started discussing our problems and compromise on both sides. We started working together again and our production greatly benefit from this. Did I tell you that we harvested 250 kg of maize and 150 kg of soy bean this year? “

Photos: IFAD/ Beatrice Gerli