Database development involves defining data needs, collecting and tabulating the required data or liasing with those responsible for data collection and tabulation, and the organization of data into a database such that they are accessible to users.
Whilst the definition of data needs has been addressed above, it should be noted that the list of items specified in Table 2 is not exhaustive, and that in-country expertise in data needs specification is an essential part of capacity building. User ability to specify sex-disaggregated data needs depends on two factors: i) gender awareness; and ii) knowledge of statistical practices. Gender awareness may be defined as an in-depth appreciation both of the gender dimensions in agriculture, natural resource management and rural enterprise development and of the importance of gender-disaggregated data in addressing those dimensions. It should also be noted that, in that producers are involved in data needs specification, they too require a general appreciation of gender dimensions and the need to incorporate gender-disaggregation in tabulation plans. One strategy for capacity building in gender-disaggregated database development is thus to increase gender awareness amongst both users and producers. This strategy would lead to better recognition and definition of data needs and to more effective communication between users and producers.
In order to increase gender awareness, it is recommended that advantage be taken of regional activities in gender awareness training such as those of the UNIFEM/AusAID/UNDP Pacific Mainstreaming Project. Several FAO member countries in the region, including the Cook Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea, have already taken part in this project, and government personnel involved in agriculture, natural resource management and rural enterprise development have received gender awareness training. It is recommended that FAO support future gender awareness activities in as much as they relate to agriculture, natural resource management and rural enterprise development in FAO member countries. It is further recommended that FAO assist countries to incorporate gender sensitivity and sex-disaggregation into the data collection practices of forthcoming agricultural censuses, in accordance with new FAO procedures.
The second factor in user ability to specify sex-disaggregated data is knowledge of the statistical practices involved in data collection. In general, such knowledge may be lacking especially where `non-agricultural' sources, such as population census or household income and expenditure surveys, are concerned. Users concerned with women in development issues are, in general, often unfamiliar with data collection. There is thus a need to improve user awareness of statistical processes. A second strategy for capacity building in gender-disaggregated database development is thus to increase statistical awareness amongst users. Again, this would lead to more effective communication between the users and producers of data. It is recommended that advantage be taken of existing regional assistance in this area (such as statistical training programmes of the South Pacific Commission) and that FAO support these activities in as much as they relate to agriculture, natural resource management and rural development.
The collection of gender-disaggregated data obviously requires expertise in data collection methodologies. Where data are produced by national statistics offices or statistical sections of government departments, such expertise is generally well developed since these offices are staffed by statisticians. Where farming systems databases are concerned, however, expertise in statistical data collection is less well developed. A major reason for this is that farming systems staff and extension workers are trained in agriculture rather than data collection. In addition, whilst gender awareness training may sensitise farming systems and extension staff to the need for sex-disaggregation, a prerequisite is that data on human resources in agriculture be collected wherever appropriate rather than concentrating purely on crops and agricultural materials as has tended to be the case. There is thus a need to enhance skills in these areas. A third strategy for capacity building in gender-disaggregated database development is thus to enhance skills in farming systems database development.
It is recommended that FAO provide assistance to member countries in the development of a farming systems approach to data collection and in farming systems database development. This could include the design, content and medium of the database, and data collection methodologies such as record keeping, small-scale surveys and rapid rural appraisal techniques. The form of this assistance would depend on current country capacity to take advantage of training in farming systems database development. If several countries are currently interested, assistance might take the form of a regional training workshop. However where interests are less coincidental, in-country assistance would be more appropriate.
Finally, the organization of data into a database such that they are accessible to users should preferably involve electronic storage. A fourth strategy is thus to enhance skills in computer based data compilation. It is recommended that FAO support training in database management and the use of appropriate software as required.