Mercy Corps’ Building Resilience through the Integration of Gender and Empowerment (BRIGE) program, in collaboration with the AgriFin Mobile program in eastern Indonesia, worked to increase the capacity of vulnerable women through pairing them with better-off women already accessing financial services. By bringing together these women, the program aimed to build assets that they could use to help their communities better cope with and adapt to recurring climate-related shocks and stresses such as unpredictable rainfall patterns, pests, or fertilizer scarcity. Women are the majority of total 748,120 people affected by poverty in Indonesia’s 6th poorest province of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), who earned their primary living from low-productivity smallholder agriculture, mainly corn farming.
Furthermore, the Human Development Index (HDI) of the province is under national standard, i.e., 66.6 compared to the national score is 70.8. Major contributors to farmers’ sustained low productivity has been limited access to resources, lack of education and access to agricultural information, knowledge and technology, limited mobility, restricted roles in decision making processes and very small social networks. These factors combined increased women’s vulnerability and risk during times of crises and further limited their ability to recover effectively from unexpected shocks and stresses.
BRIGE focused on women because recurring natural disasters and climate stresses impacted women and men differently due to pre-existing gender inequalities. Compared to women, men typically have more education, stronger professional networks, better technical skills, more mobility, more extensive participation in decision-making processes and better access to formal institutions and systems.