Priscilla Mbarumun Achakpa

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow since 2013
This description of Priscilla Mbarumun Achakpa's work was prepared when Priscilla Mbarumun Achakpa was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013 .


Priscilla is increasing women’s productivity and engaging them in protecting the environment around them.

The New Idea

Priscilla is creating and sustaining women’s interest in the socio-economic development of the rural North. She is positioning them to better manage their natural resources, creating linkages for them to access credit to engage in small and medium scale enterprise and giving them procurement skills. Through the adoption of solar dryers Priscilla is fostering rural entrepreneurship, promoting food security and sustaining peace.

The Problem

In Nigeria the women in the rural North are excluded, given little voice and they are demeaned through various forms of stereotypes which increases their vulnerability. These factors contribute in trapping women in the vicious cycle of poverty. Yet it is vital that this cycle is broken, for the empowerment of women. The women mostly operate in a hostile environment and are ignored as far as public policy is concerned an example is climate Change discourse where women are often left out even though they are the most affected.

Economic opportunities are often denied women due to family responsibilities, lack of skills, social and cultural barriers; the informal sector is often the only possibility for women to get access to employment and to earn an income. Developments affecting the informal economy thus have a distinctly gendered effect.

Women generally have limited access to start up and working capital, and other resources, such as credit and technology. Hence, they use simple technology, requiring minimal capital investment, women still suffer a lot of constraints and inhibitions which militate against their personal and national development.

The Strategy

Priscilla is improving the standard of living of the local communities contributing to the alleviation of poverty among the rural women and providing employment.She is empowering the women economically and politically to address the issues that affect their environment. She has empowered semi-rural women farmers on the usage of solar dryers to dry tons of perishable crops such as tomatoes, pepper, oranges and vegetables during peak production periods. She is creating awareness among women to utilize clean and affordable energy services and reduce the amount of fuelwood dependent communities which further degrade the environment while promoting food security through conservation and reduction in waste.

She has involved the rural women farmers through capacity building programmes in the maintenance of solar energy equipments so that usage of this equipment is sustainable. Priscilla realizing that women are most vulnerable to climate change has involved the rural women in ways that they can mitigate climate change and adapt to its impact on them and their families. She has involved the women at various levels in their communities in disaster risk reduction, water and sanitation, understanding civic rights and responsibilities, and also empowered the slum dwellers for slum upgrading and housing schemes through voluntary savings for self help, conflict and peace building, and research and documentation.

The Person

Priscilla got married at a very tender age of 16 years old, had three children and then was faced with the challenges of disinheritance when her husband died. Due to the several challenges she had with her family members, Priscilla had to move to Kaduna to live and work with her aunt. She then moved to Kaduna to live and work with her aunt. She started a diploma program after which She got a job in a bank in Kaduna. She and her friend in Kaduna had always been perplexed by a large refuse dump in Kaduna. She began working with the local government to help them understand the dangers and health risks of such a dump. She began working with the community to clear the dump and stop dumping practices. She also began organizing the women into a group to assert and empower themselves. She eventually resigned from the bank and began working fulltime on this work. She works with women for them to understand the importance of their environment to their own physical health. These women look after the land and farm together. In the North, a lot of food goes to waste and so she worked with a few university professors to create a solar dryer for their produce. In this way, the women can retain the nutrients of the produce in dry form, thereby preserving it and increasing their income.