Empowering Zanzibari Women: The ZanzADAPT Project Unveiled

By Rebecca Jacobs, Posted on January 31, 2024

Community Forests International and Community Forests Pemba are excited to announce the newest collaborative effort—Zanzibar Women’s Leadership in Adaptation Project, ZanzADAPT. This transformative initiative is poised to empower women in vulnerable coastal communities, fostering gender equality and resilience to the increasing challenges of a changing climate.

Ranked 160th out of 189 nations on the UN Gender Inequality Index, Tanzania’s situation is urgent. The poverty rate on Pemba Island has risen, especially in women-led households because of long-standing social and cultural barriers to women’s financial independence. Slow GDP growth in 2020 and the vulnerability of the economy to climate impacts underscore the need for comprehensive solutions to economic resilience. As a small island state, Zanzibar faces acute climate vulnerabilities. Zanzibar’s economy heavily relies on natural resources, especially rain-fed agriculture for food security, and biomass fuels for household energy. As a result, both the economy and individual livelihoods are highly susceptible to the effects of climate change.

Furthermore, saltwater intrusion into drinking water reserves, and low-lying agricultural land due to sea-level rise, coupled with shifting and unpredictable rainfall patterns, are adversely affecting traditional settlements and crop production. Climate change has resulted in financial and food insecurity, which is already affecting the most vulnerable populations on the islands, particularly women and girls. ZanzADAPT takes centre stage, recognizing that gender inequality is not an isolated social issue but intricately tied to environmental degradation and poverty.

Nature as the Ally

ZanzADAPT weaves a tapestry of forest-based solutions, addressing the interconnected challenges of gender inequality, climate change, and economic vulnerability. The project will deliver a cross-cutting approach in target communities throughout Unguja Island and Pemba Island, employing a multifaceted approach to enhance equitable access to resources, empower women with skills for climate-resilient livelihoods, and advocate for a more inclusive society.

Key Pillars of ZanzADAPT

  1. Land Rights and Resources: ZanzADAPT establishes a participatory and legal framework for nature-positive land use, ensuring equal opportunities for women in decision-making processes related to land and resources.
  2. Capacity Building: Technical training on mangrove forest conservation and climate-adaptive agroforestry equips women with the knowledge and skills needed to lead nature-based climate adaptation efforts.
  3. Advocacy for Change: Gender Equality Training (GET) for duty-bearers and media advocacy campaigns amplify the voices of women, fostering an enabling environment and influencing societal change towards greater equity.

Empowering Thousands

Over 30 months, ZanzADAPT aims to reach 20,000 final beneficiaries, with a focus on direct empowerment for at least 80% of women. By aligning with official development assistance (ODA) criteria and incorporating participatory economic empowerment strategies, the project strives to create sustainable outcomes in one of the world’s most impoverished, gender-unequal, and climate-vulnerable regions.

As ZanzADAPT unfolds, it paints a picture of resilience, empowerment, and a sustainable future for Zanzibar’s women. Together, we embark on a new stage of this shared journey towards a more equitable and climate-resilient world.


With thanks to:

The ZanzAdapt Project is generously funded by the Government of Canada’s Partnering for Climate (P4C) project, with additional support from the Peter Gilgan Foundation.