ISF’s annual report 2023 published

Muungano Gender Forum

In 2023, International Solidarity Foundation historically initiated operations in a new country, Ethiopia. Significant efforts were made to secure funding for the programme. Collaboration with EU, a significant new donor for ISF’s end-FGM work in Kenya, started in January.

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2023 was the second year of implementing the ISF 2022–2025 development cooperation programme. The programme aims to strengthen women and girls’ bodily integrity and livelihood resilience in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somaliland, and has the following five outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: Judicial and moral duty bearers take actions to mitigate violence against women and girls (VAWG)
  • Outcome 2: Women and girls collectively claim their rights
  • Outcome 3: Women’s sphere of influence has expanded
  • Outcome 4: Women benefit from services and networks that support livelihood reform
  • Outcome 5: Improved capacity of farm systems to mitigate and adapt to climate change

During the year, altogether 11 projects were implementing in Kenya (6) and Somaliland (5). During the latter half of 2023, one livelihood project in Kenya underwent an exit phase, while one new livelihood project in Kenya and another in Somaliland were in the planning phase. The Ethiopia programme was launched, local staff recruited, and three partners selected, with whom the planning phase officially starts in January 2024.

In 2023, ISF programme in Kenya reached almost 12,700 people directly (53% girls/women), and over 38,000 final (or indirect) beneficiaries whose lives are expected to improve due to the programme interventions (95% girls/women). ISF programme in Somaliland reached altogether over 9,500 people directly (56% girls/women), and close to 52,000 final (or indirect) beneficiaries (93% girls/women). In total, the programme reached over 112,000 people directly and/or indirectly, of whom 47% were girls and 39% were women.

Vesikanava Sanaagissa, joka kerää sadevettä

Our project rehabilitated and constructed about 8 km of irrigation canals and 4 main water storage points in Sanaag, where 99% of women and men now receive sufficiently irrigation water throughout the year.


Partner: ADO

193 girls graduated from our Alternative Rite of Passage programme. ARP is a preventive tool meant to teach girls about their bodily rights and to protect them from the imminent threat of FGM.


Partners: Cecome, Manga Heart

uskonnollinen johtaja osallistui OMBEA-laitteella tiedonkeruuseen Magaalo Qaloocin kylässä tammikuussa 2020. Kuva: Mustafa Hassan Abdilahi

207 religious and 120 traditional leaders, who are seen as custodians of culture and religion in Somaliland, were trained on the negative health effects, legal repercussions and Islamic standpoints on FGM and mobilized to advocate against all forms of VAWG.



Luokkahuone sisältä

The ISF-led Grassroots Initiative project, implementing financial support to third parties (FSTP) scheme, was launched in 2023. The project cultivates an energetic grassroots movement to boost the GBV eradication in Kisii and Nyamira, and the first ten grantees were chosen late 2023.


Funding: European Union

Nainen katsoo kameraan ja hymyilee. Hänellä on vasemmassa kädessään kori ja oikeassa kädessään kasvi.

Almost all (97%) female beneficiaries who responded to the annual survey reported that they have some influence over major household decisions, for example what crops to grow, purchase of inputs, equipment, and land. This is significant improvement compared to the baseline level of 26%.


Partners: NNWS and BWCBO


Percentage of targeted parents who have and/or are willing to reject FGM

Regarding the willingness of parents to reject FGM, there has been a notable increase in both project areas. In Kisii, 82% of women and 79% of men (76% and 67% in 2022) express willingness to reject FGM, compared to 73% of women and 64% of men in Nyamira (71% and 62% in 2022).

Public declarations to abandon FGM in the last 12 months

At CECOME, the number of families making public declarations against FGM remained steady at 93, consistent with the targeted ARP beneficiaries and their parents for the 2023 cohort.

Conversely, at Manga Heart, there has been a significant increase from 64 to 97 families engaging in public declarations. This rise can be attributed to active participation in school activities and positive parenting initiatives during the year. During the ARP graduation events, both parents and girls made oral declarations against conducting or undergoing FGM, showing a strong commitment to ending the practice.

Percentage of targeted women who have experienced partner violence often or sometimes in past 12 months

Manga Heart’s project areas in Nyamira have seen a decrease from 53% in 2022 to 37% in 2023, and Cecome’s project areas in Kisii a decrease from 32% to 29%. Increased awareness, improved conflict management methods, and spousal involvement in project activities have contributed to this decline. Additionally, the continuous engagement of trusted religious leaders in sensitization, conflict resolution, and mediation has proven beneficial in further reducing the prevalence of PV.9

Within the NNWS project beneficiaries, in turn, partner violence seems to have increased from 41% to 53%. This might be due to the ever-deteriorating economic situation of the households, following inflation and climate hazards that jeopardize men’s livelihoods.

Positive change in targeted women’s and men’s savings capacity

The current economic crisis was still reflected in women’s saving capacity. For example, NNWS members’ saving capacity increased slightly from 2022 but has not come back to the high levels in 2021. Due to the inflation, especially family expenditure on non-food items has increased. Almost all the women (98%) save money weekly or monthly and savings help overcome challenges, i.e., strengthen resilience. The access to finance also enables agriculture production which is a major source of income to 96% of the women: over half of the women have taken loan before planting time to buy seeds, fertilizers and pesticides and have paid back the loan after harvest.

Positive change in targeted women’s self-efficacy

The challenging years are also reflected in the self-efficacy results. Women feel that they have less control over their own life and unexpected future. They also feel that accomplishing their personal goals is getting harder. The programme outcome specific chapters that follow, describe the key activities during the reporting period, related outputs that are expected to lead to the respective outcome, and the progress considering the programme output and outcome indicators.


Percentage of targeted parents who have and/or are willing to reject FGM

Within two out of three projects reporting against this indicator, there was increase in willingness to reject FGM – most significantly among men: from 31% to 37% among female and from 19% up to 41% among male SOYDAVO project beneficiaries; and from 27% to 32% among female and from 25% up to 34% BVO project beneficiaries. Among YPEER project beneficiaries, in turn, there was decrease from 25% to 23% among female and from 30% to 25% among male beneficiaries.

Public declarations to abandon FGM in the last 12 months

Within the Soydavo and YPEER projects, a total of 11 public declarations materialized, where religious leaders publicly addressed their stand against FGM through TV debates, radio 24 discussions, and sermons. BVO, in turn, counts the number of community members who committed to public anti-FGM declarations, which reached 1620 in 2023.

Percentage of targeted women who have experienced partner violence often or sometimes in past 12 months

Within the Soydavo-led project alone reporting against this indicator in the Somaliland programme, the percentage decreased from 50% to 38%, presumably due to regular trainings and sensitizations where women learnt to label abusive behaviour as violence and hence standing against it.

Positive change in targeted wo/men’s resilience response to shocks and stressors and savings capacity

With ADO, ISF piloted a qualitative evaluation method to assess beneficiaries’ resilience to climate shocks and stressors. The growing seasons in 2023 were significantly easier than in 2021-22, which partly contributed to the good results. The project has significantly improved resilience to dry seasons and floods in the communities: of the targeted farmers, 87% reported that their livelihood resilience is improved, and 98% reported increase in production and crop diversification (from 5 to 12 crops). Families can survive in the critical months of the year by storing food. The crop productivity increased between 30% and 200%, depending on the cop, and 94% of the respondents reported a major increase in the sales of crops and honey.