Women Environmental Programme Nigeria

Policies for Gender and Climate Fairness
A non-profit, non-party-political, non-religious NGO facilitating education programmes and public works projects for Nigerian women on water management, conflict resolution, land rights, and tree-planting; with gender fairness foregrounding the importance of intersectional thinking when approaching climate


Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria is a major industrial centre manufacturing textiles, machinery, steel, aluminium, and petroleum products, many of which produce waste and pollute local ecosystems. While industrial corporations profit from Kaduna’s land and labour, the region remains poor. Poverty has also exacerbated religious fundamentalism and seen the rise of Boko Haram in Kaduna and other areas in Nigeria’s northeast and middle belt regions, disproportionately oppressing women and girls. This gender imbalance is further exacerbated by the lack of education available to women in areas of literacy, health, finance, law, and governance.


In the mid-1990s, a group of women in Kaduna State established the Women Environment Programme (WEP) in response to environmental pollution by Kaduna’s industries, patriarchal oppression, and violent religious extremism.

WEP intervenes in systemic gender discrimination and climate damage through conflict resolution by facilitating dialogue between industrialists and local leaders, and supporting projects in renewable energy, water, and sanitation. WEP also provides education programmes for women and youths on civic rights and responsibilities, democratic governance, and vocational skills applicable to establishing businesses using WEP’s start-up grants. Over the past decades, WEP has overseen projects to train women and girls in water and sanitation management, forestry, and conflict resolution (focused on resolving disputes over land and resources). Young people who have benefitted from the training have later trained others, ensuring the longevity of the scheme.

Although poverty, fundamentalism, and the gender inequities that these problems exacerbate do continue, WEP provides an alternative set of activities, infrastructures, and communities that support fairness and inclusiveness, democratic leadership, and self-reliance (as opposed to dependency on foreign aid). One example is WEP’s Great Green Wall Project, an initiative set up in 2017 with the aim of tackling the detrimental social, economic, and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification in northern Nigeria. This ongoing project aims to plant a Great Green Wall of trees along 1,500km of land in a 2km wide strip.1For more information, see ‘WEP – Women Environmental Programme’ <https://wepnigeria.net/> [accessed 5 November 2023]. Working with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, WEP has been facilitating women-led tree-planting events on site to help women learn about sustainable forestry and desertification.

WEP’s transparency in facilitating programmes and aid with multiple partners and democratically elected leaders from the national government offers a model for educational institutions, organisations, and enterprises seeking accountability and fairness in a region where corruption is common. WEP’s governmental partners include the Federal Ministries of Women Affairs and Social Development, Water Resources, and Environment. International partners include the UN, the African Working Group on Gender and Climate Change, and the Climate Change Network of Nigeria (CCNN).

WEP’s recognition that Nigeria’s rapid economic expansion requires taking responsibility for poor communities, especially women, as well as the natural environment, exemplifies a holistic approach to development and offers a lesson in how to manage “progress” and “growth” in ways that help all people and the climate itself. WEP’s activities have spread to other areas of Nigeria, including Benue and Katsina States, and abroad to countries including Cameroon.


  • 1
    For more information, see ‘WEP – Women Environmental Programme’ <https://wepnigeria.net/> [accessed 5 November 2023].