Posted February 1998
PLANNING takes place at many levels:
The diagram above illustrates how the Nepal project attempted to facilitate a process of participatory, gender responsive planning at the district level. The project "entered" by training a wide range of district officers and field staff in PRA and gender analysis. PRAs were conducted with separate groups of men and women farmers, both to provide gender-specific information for district planning and to develop Community Action Plans as potential inputs for district planning. By using separate men's and women's focus groups, the project attempted to assure that women's needs and priorities would be represented equally with men's. However, when men and women farmers were brought together to produce a single Community Action Plan (CAP), in most cases women's priorities were overshadowed by men's. As noted in the diagram, the project had planned to organise district workshops where farmers would discuss their CAPs with district planners. This would have provided a direct link to district planning and, if implemented, would have been a "best practice". Nepal was one of the few projects that attempted to forge as direct a link with planning processes. (As mentioned earlier, however, the district workshops were cancelled.)
Ethiopia's client-oriented extension training project began with a participatory approach to the planning of its own activities. The project was jointly designed by the national project coordinator, six national extension experts, and an international extension education adviser. Project staff then prepared materials for a training of trainers (TOT) programme by conducting preliminary PRAs in three regions to provide local examples for an Amharic language training guide entitled "How to make your extension programme client-oriented". The primary entry points were field-level extension agents and farmers.
The entry point for the Tunisian TCP, "Policy and Strategy in favour of Rural Women" was the project's request to the Department of Planning to define its needs for data on women. The project then trained the field workers who made up the research team, conducted a statistical survey to provide data on rural women's productive activities, and engaged in participatory research using PRA methods to elicit information about women's and men's separate priorities for women's economic activities. The Tunisia project seems to be the only one that began by consulting the national planning agency on its needs. It will be interesting to discuss the project implementers' evaluation of the effect of this "entry point" on the planning and subsequent execution of the project.
The Costa Rica project, which was explicitly mandated to use gender analysis to understand and correct women farmers' under-representation in agricultural services, promoted an extensive and participatory process for the detailed review of agricultural policies, including orientations and methods, mechanisms, instruments and institutional regulations. The process was developed with the participation of policy makers, agricultural specialists, NGOs and representative of rural organizations. One of the main characteristics of this project was the modality of undertaking simultaneous action at three levels: community level, working with grassroots organizations and rural workers, at regional level in connection with descentralised agencies from the agricultural sector and local government and at national level with policy makers, national NGOs and representative from the major farmers' organisations. In analysing it's entry point, the case study stresses the fact these activities took place simultaneously since each was seen to have critical feedback for the others. This project is, however, one of the few that conducted a detailed study of policy making before it "entered" the planning system.
Namibia's "Improving Information on Women's Contribution to Agricultural Production for Gender Sensitive Planning" project was executed in tight collaboration with a second project focused on training extension workers in PRA and gender analysis. This provided the project with an obvious entry point, i.e. using the extension agents trained in PRA/GA to collect gender-specific information on the farming systems in the country's four major agroecological zones. The PRAs were expected to produce gender, socio-economic, and location specific information that could be used by national agricultural planners and policy makers who had recently been mandated to integrate women farmers into all policies and programmes.
India's Sikkim livestock project began by training agricultural and community development officers as trainers, including training in analytical, problem-solving, and pedagogical skills as well as inter-disciplinary work, participatory methods and gender analysis. The newly trained trainers conducted PRA/GA training for field staff who in turn conducted PRAs in a series of villages with the aim of producing information relevant to the planning of livestock services. Training trainers as an entry point improved prospects that activities will be sustained after the project is terminated.
In Honduras, at project inception in 1983, there were no institutional mechanisms for working with rural women as productive agents. This prompted the project to begin by working directly with rural women, organising small groups to encourage income generating projects for crop and animal production and providing credit for their implementation.
Senegal's reafforestation project's entry point was to work directly with villagers. In most cases however, village authority was exercised by the male village and religious chiefs. Women were traditionally absent, though the eldest were consulted before final decisions were made. But with the backing of village authorities, PREVINOBA was able to build a partnership with village organisations, including women's advancement groups. Given men's absence for most of the year, women were organised into collectives for the majority of reafforestation and cultivation activities, including orchard management. For a few activities, such as the installation of windbreaks, both men and women were involved.
In Pakistan, the staff of the women's programme of the natural resource management project conducted PRA exercises with village women as its entry point for each area in which it worked. Since the PRAs demonstrated that women had little interest in environmental conservation activities, they culminated in the formation of women's associations which planned their own activities, largely income generating projects.
The entry point of Afghanistan's PIHAM project was the training of the veterinarians from the staff of the pre-existing Animal Health and Livestock Production Programme in gender-sensitive participatory rapid appraisal and project monitoring. The participatory work with farmers that followed this training had a major impact on changing veterinarians' attitudes toward farmers in a positive manner.
Summary on entry pointsThe entry points for five of the projects were highly similar-the training of field-level extensionagents to conduct PRA/GA to gather information useful for gender-sensitive planning. The "levels" of planning for which the gender-specific information gathered was intended varied from the national (Namibia, Tunisia), to the district or region (Nepal, Costa Rica), to sub-sectors (Ethiopia, India, Honduras), to the project itself (Afghanistan, Senegal, Pakistan). The Tunisian project was the only one that began with an explicit attempt to involve a planning agency in defining its needs. The Costa Rica project began with a detailed study of policy making processes. The highly successful Ethiopia project began with a participatory process of planning the project itself.