Associate Officer, Women in development service, FAO
DR M. HALIMI
National Assistant Manager, Livestock services
DR SHAWKAT, MS QAMAR and DR PASHTOONZAI
Women's programme of the FAO project
Livestock development for food security
ONE DAY, THERE WERE TWO CHILDREN in a village talking to one another. "Who are those people? Are they doctors?" "No, they are not. They are PIHAM people." "What is PIHAM?" "It is the programme of these people. It means they are continuously coming and going, coming and going" (FAO, 1997a).
This case study talks about the opportunities that can be created in agricultural development projects as they move increasingly towards "bottom-up" participatory processes for identifying needs, analysing causes, solving problems and monitoring progress. It shows how, even when only a handful of gender-responsive participatory appraisal tools are adopted and used effectively in training, they can have a very positive impact on planning processes and project implementation. This is the story of one project's experiences with participatory approaches and the implications those approaches had, not only for the relationship between villagers and technicians, but also for the project management and staff in terms of planning and monitoring.
In 1994, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) amalgamated two separate livestock and veterinary projects being executed by FAO in Afghanistan. The subsequent project, Animal Health and Livestock Production Programme in Afghanistan (AFG/93/004) moved from its original focus of rehabilitation to one of sustainable agricultural development and emphasized the importance of active community participation in the development process. Project innovations included animal health and veterinary services; introduction of improved fodder and nutrition; and breeding and poultry development. These activities were aimed at rebuilding Afghanistan's self-sufficiency by improving the country's capacity to produce livestock and livestock products backed by self-supporting veterinary services.
The livestock project recognized the need for all objectives to benefit both rural women and rural men and the importance of involving women directly in the implementation of activities. However, for socio-cultural reasons, the Women's Programme has, to a great extent, conducted its activities separately from the other project activities. More recently, political reasons have forced an even greater gender-differentiated implementation of activities as the training of women and men together has become impossible within the borders of Afghanistan. In Taliban-controlled areas, women are generally prevented from going to offices, making both training and monitoring difficult. However, in terms of approach, the women's and men's activities have come closer to one another, exchanging lessons and experiences to strengthen each programme.
In 1995, FAO developed a subproject entitled Promotion of Farmers' Participation Through the Implementation of Animal Health and Production Improvement Modules (PIHAM) in Afghanistan (TCP/AFG/4553)1. This project was founded on a generic programme developed by FAO and its aim was to introduce more participatory approaches to implementation of the livestock project. It was based on experiences of using participatory approaches elsewhere in Asia (T. Barker, 1997, personal communication, CTA AFG/96/007), which project staff, together with consultants from Livestock in Development (LID), modified and tested in the field, before developing a participatory approach that was appropriate for use in Afghanistan.
Participatory training and fieldwork were used to help change the attitudes of male and female project staff, particularly in the veterinary field units (VFUs), towards farmers and to increase their capacity to use participatory assessment and monitoring tools. Neither the project nor the approach were specifically labelled "gender-responsive", but the incorporation of PIHAM into the livestock project highlighted gender-differentiated roles and responsibilities in livestock management and, thus, the importance of considering gender information in problem-solving and monitoring.
Participation not only improved staff's responses to farmers' needs, but highlighted, perhaps for the first time, the extent to which rural women are involved in livestock production systems. This, in turn, influenced the kind of information that was gathered - project staff recognized that both women's and men's knowledge about their animals should be included if effective responses to livestock production constraints were to be developed.
This case study looks at the lessons learned during the introduction of PIHAM and its impact on the overall livestock project and the Women's Programme component. It finishes with some considerations and conclusions aimed at promoting gender-responsive participatory processes in agricultural planning. These points are particularly relevant to situations where it is difficult for both female and male technical staff to meet directly with rural women. This final section emphasizes the importance of incorporating the knowledge and experience, as well as the needs and priorities, of different household/community members in planning. Without this incorporation, gender- and other socio-economically differentiated barriers to planning processes can have significantly negative consequences for the overall effectiveness of livestock interventions - from the grassroots up to the policy level.
"It is... important to continue to focus on interventions that rebuild mechanisms for people's participation in rehabilitation and development and which provide an incentive to disengage from conflict; ...for people to meet peacefully and discuss points of common interest rather than issues that divide; and to ensure that the concerns of the most disadvantaged are adequately taken care of."
(UNDP, 1997: Foreword).
Afghanistan is in crisis. Its infrastructure and social capital have been seriously diminished and its governance systems are fractured. Losses of jobs and export earnings, combined with the lack of capacity to manage the national economy and generate revenue, have crippled the country. Almost 20 years of war have led to a spiraling reduction in the country's social and economic status (UNDP, 1997: Programme setting). In 1996, UNDP placed Afghanistan 169 out of 175 countries in the Human Development Index (UNDP, 1996).
Even before the war began, Afghanistan was classed as one of the world's least-developed countries. In 1978, however, it was self-sufficient in grain for the first time since the early 1900s (FAO, 1997). Roads, dams and formal irrigation systems were being developed to support large-scale agriculture, and a network of government training institutions, departments and offices supported smallholder farmers.
In 1992, the war was at its height and about one-third of the population (6 million people) were either internally displaced or in refugee camps outside the country. Significant reductions in agricultural production left the country in dire need of food and other assistance. Agricultural systems had been devastated, infrastructure had deteriorated and government extension services had been drastically reduced.
More recently, however, and owing to the efforts of several United Nations agencies, other donors (particularly the European Union) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), agricultural production has started to make a recovery. By 1995, these efforts had achieved great results, including the return of between 2 and 3 million refugees to their farms, increases in the country's food supply, and the re-establishment of agricultural production on much of the farmland.
Afghanistan no longer has a formal government, so UN has stepped in to guide the reconstruction and development of the country. The lack of a central government has made it difficult to rehabilitate national capacities, but opportunities have been grasped wherever and whenever possible. Most notably, development organizations and others have worked directly with communities and NGOs to plan and implement activities. However, the lack of infrastructure and extension services continues to frustrate efforts to institutionalize the lessons learned.
At least three-quarters of Afghanistan's population live in rural areas, and an estimated 85 percent depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Agricultural development, including livestock development, can therefore have a profound influence on establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan. The basic ingredients for the development of livestock production - land, water, adapted indigenous breeds and hard-working, enterprising women and men farmers - are still present.
It is estimated that about 8 million ha of agricultural land are cultivated each year in Afghanistan, a third of which is rainfed, the rest being under irrigation. The country is characterized by 11 agro-ecological zones, 5 percent of which cover irrigated areas (FAO, 1997).
Livestock's potential socio-economic contribution to agricultural development, household food security and income generation in Afghanistan is vast. Livestock production has always been an integral part of smallholder farming systems throughout the country, providing food, energy, income, wool, Karakal pelts and leather. Currently, livestock production provides the following (UNDP, 1997: Chapter 6):
According to an earlier UN report (UNOCHA, 1995), the life expectancy and literacy rates of Afghan women are among the lowest in the world. Years of conflict and the resulting massive displacement of the population have disrupted family structures and increased the burden on women2.
For what some observers describe as "religious and cultural reasons", many Afghan women have historically been denied access to education and employment outside the home. More recently, Afghan women have been denied access to education and employment by the Taliban authorities, despite the efforts of UN organizations to convince local authorities to "reverse these discriminatory policies". Afghanistan is a signatory to both the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and has ratified the latter. However, recent political developments have eroded the overall situation of women in Afghanistan, especially regarding mobility and access to services. In July 1997, the Secretary General of the UN, in a letter to heads of UN agencies active in Afghanistan, noted that women's situation has worsened in cities under Taliban control.
Restrictions on women have made it very difficult for the UN and other donors active in rehabilitation and development efforts in Afghanistan to deliver programmes to those in need. This is particularly true in rural areas, where restrictions have had negative implications on the agricultural sector, in which women are very active.
The various members of a household or community may, because of their different production role(s), have different experiences and knowledge of the same production activity, or they may even be the only people to have direct knowledge of certain activities along the chain of production. The knowledge and experience of each household member should, therefore, be incorporated into agricultural policy and planning processes, in order to address different needs and priorities, help communities find relevant solutions to their problems, and improve agricultural production systems.
The restricted movement of women in Afghanistan has made it all but impossible for them to work outside the home, other than in the human health sector, and it has become increasingly difficult to find ways of collecting and integrating socio-economic and gender-disaggregated information from village households for use in the planning of community and other livestock interventions. This has tested the capacities of agricultural planners, including veterinarians and livestock production specialists, to plan and implement effective agricultural programmes in response to development needs in areas that are already suffering the effects of years of conflict.
Ironically, however, efforts to bar women's public participation in Afghanistan have heightened the visibility of Afghan women in the eyes of those operating within the UN/donor community, and made them a greater focus of attention than are women in many other countries. The UN Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, at the request of the Secretary General, has now established an inter-agency group to assess gender issues in Afghanistan.
"I understand this is a good programme. If a minister writes a programme while sitting behind the table it will not be implemented, but if it is designed in the field, it will be implemented."
Almost all government institutions in Afghanistan, including the Veterinary Department, effectively ceased functioning as a result of the war. In mid-1994, UNDP amalgamated two livestock programmes and established a single FAO-executed programme called the Animal Health and Livestock Production Programme in Afghanistan (AFG/93/004)3. The aim of the project was to "restore and improve the productive capacity of the national livestock composite owned by smallholder farmers and nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists".
The project identified rural women as a key beneficiary group and recognized their capacities as animal production and health specialists. It considered development activities that were deemed appropriate for women's participation. The operation of Veterinary Field Units (VFUs) by women was seen to be unrealistic given their restricted movement in the districts concerned, but the project did manage to establish women farmers as Basic Veterinary Workers (BVWs), supporting disease investigation and diagnosis in their villages and, in some cases, earning a supplementary income. BVW training for women attempted to "avoid old pattern(s)"of only men talking to men about the problems of rehabilitation, and to "involve women in animal health and livestock production activities" (FAO, Project Document AFG/93/004).
The project set training targets of 60 to 80 additional para-veterinarians and 200 to 250 BVWs, which were to include at least 75 women. Poultry breeding farms, hatcheries and chicken rearing facilities were to be established to facilitate, among other things, the distribution of two-month-old chicks to women participating in poultry management training. The BVW training, together with the poultry management courses were collectively referred to as the Women's Programme.
In general, the delivery of animal health services in Afghanistan had improved through FAO and other UN, bilateral and NGO assistance using a package of animal health services against "an historically accepted repertoire of animal diseases" (FAO, 1997b). Mortality was reduced in young animals by 26 percent and in adults by 43 percent 4, although one study suggested that the relative impact on mortality of vaccinations compared with parasite prevention and/or clinical treatment had not been considered (FAO, 1997b). According to the project, antiparasite treatments were probably the main cause of these successes, while poor animal management and nutrition, combined with reproductive inefficiency and neo-natal mortality, were considerable constraints to the improvement of livestock productivity (FAO, 1995b). On the basis of these findings, it was proposed that project extension services would have to change their approach.
The livestock project then identified several factors that made it difficult to establish self-sustaining VFUs. The greatest of these was the poor relationship between veterinary staff and the farmers in their areas of responsibility. Poor VFU-farmer relationships not only limited the ability of veterinarians to work effectively on a cost-recovery basis, but also hindered attempts to improve overall smallholder livestock production. Veterinary staff sometimes appeared to be unaware of the livestock problems faced by farmers (FAO, 1997c). A training programme, which had previously been omitted from the project, was needed to promote farmers' participation in identifying their own needs and local decision-making, and closer farmer-veterinary staff relationships.
The project looked at examples from elsewhere in Asia to find appropriate methodologies for changing its extension approach. As a result, PIHAM was modified and tested for use in Afghanistan.
PIHAM is a herd health and production programme that aims at improving the quality and delivery of livestock services in Afghanistan (FAO, 1995A). It promotes the use of participatory approaches that are based on gaining greater understanding of, and formulating appropriate responses to, farmers' identified needs. This approach makes it easier to identify animal health and husbandry constraints, plan and implement interventions, and involve farmers and local veterinary teams in the monitoring of results.
The participatory approaches used in PIHAM are developed on three foundations, or pillars (see Figure 1). One of PIHAM's key strengths is its recognition of the need to maintain continuous contact between farmers and VFU staff in order to build farmers' confidence and facilitate the collection of information essential for responding to their needs. Previous experience had already shown that, as the relationship between farmers and VDU staff improves, so too does the potential to respond to the problems identified by farmers.
Since its inception, PIHAM has acted as one of the key vehicles for change in the livestock project and its subactivities, including the Women's Programme, have driven the processes of exchange, reflection, analysis and correction. By encouraging participatory methodologies, PIHAM has created the "safe space" necessary for all project staff, from the lowest to highest levels, to discuss problems and share successes, across both horizontal and vertical organizational levels.
Pillars of PIHAM
DURING THE IMPLEMENTATION of the overall project and the Women's Programme, certain events led to significant changes in the way interventions were planned and implemented. The new process of implementation was a move away from top-down, centrist approaches to those based on the identified needs of communities and implementers at the grassroots level. The project's introduction of more participatory training, information gathering and monitoring methodologies through PIHAM had clear impacts for VFU and project staff in terms of highlighting farmers' roles in, and knowledge of, livestock production. Most importantly, the change of approach was instrumental in bringing to the attention of both project staff and villagers the critical role that women play in the management of livestock.
While the overall project considered both rural women and rural men as beneficiaries, most activities were organized and conducted along gender-disaggregated lines. Originally this was because of the overall socio-cultural conditions but, more recently, the political climate of Afghanistan has made such an approach desirable and advisable. However, while activities were conducted in separate gender groups, key events drew men and women closer together in terms of approach. This provided the opportunity for greater discussion of the different roles and responsibilities, as well as the different knowledge, of rural women and men in livestock production systems.
Initiated in 1995, the project prioritized the training of rural women under the National Assistant Manager in Training of Rural Women who was supported by a female UN volunteer. Compared with other project activities, the Women's Programme was conducted on a smaller scale in terms of numbers of villagers reached, owing in part to the limited number of staff. The team developed and planned month-long BVW training courses for women, provided field support to women BVWs and developed other training and participatory opportunities for women within the context of the overall programme. The content of the women's BVW training was the same as that for male BVWs. In late 1996, the Women's Programme conducted week-long poultry production and animal husbandry training courses, following on from earlier UN efforts. In 1997, it lost its UN volunteer, but gained two women initiators from the PIHAM programme, bringing the staff to three.
When the livestock project was initially designed, it was recognized that there was a lack of technical assistance to promote stronger veterinary staff-farmer relationships as well as farmers' participation in needs identification and decision-making. While project staff had some experience of participatory methodologies, they were not necessarily using them in their work with farmers. In response to this lack, in 1996, PIHAM was developed and introduced as a FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) project (TCP/AFG/ 4553). Its aim was to reorient the interaction between livestock owners and community animal health workers associated with the project.
Pilot phase. PIHAM's pilot phase was conducted between March 1996 and January 1997. During this phase, 12 initiators, who were veterinarians and agriculturists, were trained to implement and modify PIHAM. In the initial stages, the livestock project identified ten male trainees (called "initiators" by PIHAM) from VFUs and the former government extension service to participate in the first PIHAM training. While conducting the first PIHAM module, initiators and project management recognized the need for women's participation in the training to complete the circle of information that was essential if better services were to be provided to communities. Two weeks into the first module, two women initiators joined PIHAM.
During the pilot phase, women and men initiators undertook training in participatory appraisal and monitoring approaches. They also carried out fieldwork with farmers in six locations. The training was broken down into five modules followed by fieldwork and monitoring and evaluation (reflection and correction):
Modification of the Women's Programme. The involvement of women veterinary staff in the PIHAM training had a positive impact on the Women's Programme, particularly in raising the capacity of female staff to use participatory appraisal and monitoring approaches. Subsequently, the women began to modify course training material, making it much more participatory and practical, and so more meaningful to illiterate village women. Staff also modified the content of the poultry training course to focus on the use of materials and feeds that were inexpensive and available locally. The process of revision continues, changing according to the needs identified by village women.
One-day workshop on PIHAM. In March 1997, the FAO livestock project held a one-day workshop for other UN agencies working in Afghanistan, at which FAO shared its experiences of using the PIHAM approach and associated participatory methodologies. This was a key event for raising awareness throughout the country of the need for participatory responses to rehabilitation and development challenges.
Two-day workshop to review the Women's Programme. In early 1997, as the ever-increasing restrictions on women's mobility began to affect the project, a two-day workshop was held by the PIHAM trainer, the three female staff of the Women's Programme and two management-level staff. The workshop aims were to review the existing objectives and activities, identify major issues affecting the programme and plan and focus activities over the short term, in preparation for an overall programme review proposed for October/November 1997.
A short-term aim was for the two new female staff (ex-PIHAM) to familiarize themselves with the existing programme and identify areas for modification. This was seen as a good moment for PIHAM's participative approaches to be incorporated into the Women's Programme. In the follow-up to the PIHAM training, the team agreed that the programme should identify the specific needs of (rural) women concerning livestock services. A participatory assessment was then carried out to identify the extent to which BVW and poultry training met the specific needs of women farmers and to highlight areas needing attention.
Training of trainers/replication phase. PIHAM is now in its replication phase in which the original initiators, fresh from their training of trainers (TOT) course, are training other male VFU staff throughout the country in PIHAM approaches. The TOT course covered the principles of adult learning, participative training techniques, lesson planning and course organization. Unfortunately, at present, women cannot be trained alongside men within Afghanistan's borders. However, the livestock project planned to train another six to ten women initiators separately later, so that they could work with rural women to identify their livestock needs and constraints and monitor changes in livestock production.
THROUGHOUT THE PROJECT MANY LESSONS were learned in terms of community participation, in particular the participation of village women and women trainers/initiators. Experiences gained during the project helped to improve project planning processes at all levels by raising rural men's and women's participation in needs identification, constraints analysis, diagnosis and problem solving related to livestock.
Several constraints emerged which hindered effective participation, particularly of women, at both the village and project staff levels. Recent Taliban restrictions on women's mobility have made it very difficult for village women to carry out their daily activities and for projects to employ and work with women. These restrictions increasingly frustrate UN (and other) attempts to ensure women's participation as actors and beneficiaries and, subsequently, limit the effective implementation of all rehabilitation and development interventions in Afghanistan.
Through the introduction of a consistent participatory approach, both with veterinary and other project staff and with women and men villagers, actors at all levels have come to recognize the important role that rural women play in livestock management and health. When assessing the lessons learned, it is important to remember that neither the overall project nor its components were, or are, "gender projects" per se. The project was intended to "restore and improve the productive capacity of the national livestock composite owned by smallholder farmers and nomadic and semi-nomadic pastoralists". Project staff at all levels then recognized that such a goal could not be met without the involvement of both women and men farmers as well as women and men initiators.
Early on, activities in the livestock project and Women's Programme tended to be identified and planned at a central base. Although this is clearly an oversimplistic description of project decision-making processes, it gives a general sense of the decision-making patterns adopted. However, wherever possible, project management incorporated community-based needs, which were identified during field visits, in overall planning processes (T. Barker, 1997, personal communication, CTA AFG/96/007).
While some field-level staff had experience of using participatory approaches in their work, others did not. The lack of a consistent participatory approach for needs identification and planning hindered the building of relationships among VFU staff, Women's Programme trainers and farmers. Approaches were based, to a great extent, on skills and knowledge transference as well as on project staff's service support to farmers. For the most part, staff talked to village men and women, not with them; while some discussion may have been held, the extent to which villagers truly participated in the decision-making processes related to project implementation is unclear.
Given the existing socio-cultural conditions and the recent political decisions regarding the role and mobility of women, it might have been easier for the project to direct its interventions to male villagers only, through male staff. However, project management and staff realized that such a male-centred approach could not improve smallholder livestock production in Afghanistan. Without women's participation or, at the very least, access to their knowledge of livestock management, any proposed solutions would not be sustainable over the long term.
With the introduction of the PIHAM methodology, both the overall livestock project and the Women's Programme underwent several changes. One of the most dramatic of these was the changed attitude of staff at all levels to the women and men farmers for whom they were supposed to be working. Whereas, in the past, many decisions were made by project staff on their own, since PIHAM a greater number are being made in conjunction with women and men villagers and are based on villagers' identification of problems, needs and possible solutions 6. This is now having an impact on the overall planning processes, even at the highest level of the project.
In many ways, since 1994, the overall livestock project has gradually evolved decision-making processes that are "cyclical" rather than "bottom-up" or "top-down". PIHAM has the potential to develop processes that lead from the farmer to the planner, and back, in a continuous repeating loop.
A key lesson learned from the Afghan experience is that when projects use more participatory approaches, women's and men's different roles and responsibilities in, and knowledge of, agricultural production systems become easier to recognize and evaluate. Overall planning processes can be improved by involving different actors -male and female, rich and poor - in decision-making (identifying problems, analysing causes, proposing solutions and monitoring changes in production).
Before the introduction of PIHAM, both the Women's Programme and the overall livestock project implemented an "acceptable repertoire" of services focused on improved livestock production throughout Afghanistan. The veterinarians and agriculturists attached to the project did not follow an overall consistent participatory approach to working with women and men farmers.
To paraphrase the views of senior management, which many of the project staff agreed with, "Veterinarians waited in their offices for farmers to come to them." In early PIHAM exercises, initiators noted that veterinarians had a superior attitude to farmers. They gave little recognition to either women or men farmers' knowledge of their own animals or to their capacity to identify potential causes and suggest appropriate solutions. Nor was there a consistent approach to working with farmers to monitor changes in animal production. The lack of participatory monitoring approaches was found to be a great constraint to improving livestock production.
The Women's Programme used lectures and practical demonstrations to teach rural women a series of skills related to animal production and poultry management. A one-way "banking model" approach was used in which the "pupil" was lectured by the "teacher". According to the trainers "there was no participation" of women farmers and there was neither a participatory assessment of women farmers' present livestock management skills, nor an assessment of their particular livestock (or other) needs. The Women's Programme monitored activities using formal interviews.
The overall livestock project (in which male staff worked with male farmers only) also followed the banking model approach. VFU staff did not necessarily understand, or recognize, the need to consult farmers and work together on disease diagnosis and patterns and on identification of possible appropriate solutions.
The PIHAM training, conducted by consultants from Livestock in Development (United Kingdom), was first applied to ten male initiators in 1995. A combination of adult learning and participatory rural appraisal (PRA) approaches were used to highlight the importance of listening to, respecting and learning from farmers, and finding, with them, appropriate solutions. The participatory approaches used included:
Through the use of participatory appraisal and monitoring in the field and in the classroom, participants (including project management) saw how essential it was to include women trainees. They realized that women can often provide the best diagnosis for a sick animal, because they have daily knowledge and observation of animals. The addition of two women initiators to the initial PIHAM training, and their subsequent addition to the Women's' Programme, led to a revision of methodologies in that programme as well.
In early 1997, project staff visited 35 households in the Jalalabad area which had been trained in poultry management using the pre-PIHAM methods. Staff discovered that women had not built any chicken houses, even though PIHAM had suggested ways in which the Women's Programme could use women villagers' inputs and feedback to modify its poultry training course. Staff decided to find ways of ensuring that the course became more participative, practical and relevant to illiterate women. They also recognized that the use of local feedstuffs and construction materials should be promoted. When reviewing the women's BVW activities, which are temporarily suspended, staff concluded that training methods should be reviewed and adapted to become more participatory and practical (FAO, 1997d).
Women trainers recognized the importance of using participatory methodologies in their own programme, both to identify the livestock management concerns of village women and to find appropriate solutions to problems. The previous banking model/lecture format slowly evolved into a learning process for both the village women and the project staff. Their relationship changed; staff now have more respect for rural women's knowledge and are integrating it into the planning of subsequent activities. Staff understand the need to include all members of the household in constraint analysis and problem solving related to livestock production.
The following lessons were learned from the use of participatory methodologies and tools in the planning and implementation of FAO livestock project activities:
Several PRA exercises undertaken within the context of the initial PIHAM training sessions and during the replication phase highlighted the fact that livestock and other related agricultural production activities are, to a great extent, differentiated. Recognition of the different roles and responsibilities, along gender and age lines as well as along lines of socio-economic status and ability, is critical to ensuring more effective planning of livestock interventions and finding of appropriate solutions.
Participants in the initial training exercises highlighted the importance of talking to the family member who knows most about the animals, and noted that this is not necessarily the (male) head of household. They also indicated that the (male) head of household, while not necessarily the person implementing the solution, needs to be informed about it in order to approve any suggested changes in husbandry.
The main findings from the participatory appraisal exercises conducted under PIHAM showed that8:
PIHAM was introduced primarily to help establish self-sustaining VFUs throughout project areas in Afghanistan, however, it has also strengthened capacities at several different levels - from farmer to field staff, and beyond to project management. In particular, it supported vertical capacity building processes through:
Horizontal capacity building was carried out among VFU staff (and, to some degree, between male and female staff) from various areas of the country through training together and the sharing of experiences and lessons learned. Women and men farmers gained enormous capacity, particularly in terms of trusting their own abilities to recognize and resolve livestock production constraints themselves or with the support of VFU staff. PIHAM provided space for both women and men farmers to validate their own knowledge of livestock management and to recognize the roles and responsibilities, as well as the contributions, of other family members.
The specific capacities strengthened by the introduction of participatory and, subsequently, gender-aware methodologies are summarized in the Table. These conclusions are based on discussions with project staff specifically associated with monitoring the implementation and impacts of PIHAM training and the Women's Programme.
Although the capacities of male and female staff have been strengthened, there are still several problems regarding continuing support to professional women on the staff and to women farmers involved in the activities of the Women's Programme. Restrictions on women's mobility in Taliban-controlled areas prevent women staff from entering government or other (i.e. project/FAO) offices, nor can they travel in project vehicles. It is also difficult for male staff to visit women farmers. The provision of professional support to, and monitoring of, the Women's Programme is therefore problematic. Senior project management, most of whom are male, cannot monitor female staff while they work with rural women and, therefore, cannot correct problems or identify areas requiring attention.
"Do not make any promises... and you must follow up" (Woman PIHAM trainee's observation).
The use of the PIHAM approach broadened awareness of the following two key issues which have the potential to change planning processes throughout the project in terms of gender and participation. The issues were:
While, to some extent, project management may have already been aware of these important issues, it seems that PIHAM facilitated a broader acceptance of them at all levels (see table on facing page) - from farmer, through VFU staff and Women's Progamme trainers, to project staff. More importantly, PIHAM introduced a consistent participatory approach, in other words it showed how important it is that comparable data be collected throughout project areas and experiences shared within and among all levels.
In fact, PIHAM seems to have led to a linking of approaches between many VFU activities, where the current focus is on creating better farmer-technician relationships and promoting the Women's Programme, which concentrates on village-level training in animal health and management.
At the village level, measuring the extent to which communication regarding livestock management has increased between women and men farmers will require closer monitoring over time. It is clear that men farmers, having participated in labour analysis exercises, now realize that women play very important roles in livestock management and health care. But, as already noted, it is difficult for male project management to monitor women staff while they conduct their work with village women. For the time being, it seems that male staff at all levels cannot meet rural women to discuss issues and concerns, while female staff cannot meet rural men in most areas. It is therefore essential that female and male staff continuously share experiences and findings from the field.
In the absence of a functioning national infrastructure, the project had no direct links with agricultural or other ministries. It did, however, work with ex-government and NGO extensionists to institutionalize participatory approaches. When PIHAM's participatory approaches are used, gender issues are raised, particularly through such tools as labour analysis and input/output charts.
As a consistent participatory approach begins to spread out to other VFU staff throughout the country, and as the Women's Programme grows, comparative socio-economic and technical information on livestock management and production constraints should become available. The wider use of life status ranking, skill ranking and labour analysis, together with participatory livestock monitoring, will lead to a better understanding of the socio-economic, gender and technical factors in livestock production systems across a number of socio-cultural groups in Afghanistan. This will, in turn, help to improve planning of veterinary and livestock services at all levels.
When the time comes to re-establish national infrastructures, participatory approaches that highlight socio-economic, gender and technical information will, to some extent, already have been institutionalized with animal health and production services. Over the next few years, as more and better-quality information is gathered through working with women and men farmers, agricultural/livestock policy 11 is more likely to respond effectively to the needs and priorities of rural communities.
Until then, the UN and its various agencies, donors and NGOs will continue to play a major role in directing policy and planning interventions. Awareness-raising workshops, such as those conducted by FAO for other agencies, is one way of providing opportunities for the cross-sectoral exchange of experiences - both in supporting women's participation in rehabilitation and development interventions and in using participatory approaches to planning. However, until restrictions on women's mobility and access to services are lifted, it will be difficult at any level, from the grassroots to policy, to institutionalize approaches that are both gender-responsive and participatory.
Internalization can lead to institutionalization. While some project staff and management may already recognize the need for change, participatory approaches can facilitate the broader internalization of issues and concerns across various levels, and this is essential to institutionalizing a "different, perhaps more effective way of doing things".
Capacities built after the introduction of PIHAM
After exchanging and sharing their experiences, women farmers now:
understand the responsibilities of keeping livestock, e.g. mating time;
have increased their ability to record/monitor changes (reporting forms);
can record disease patterns and see vaccination time (seasonal calendars);
understand the importance of talking to experienced women, and that they have a larger role in livestock management than they thought (labour analysis);
can identify many causes of problems;
understand that solutions based on resources at hand are easier, cheaper and more effective (input/output charts).
understand how much women are involved in livestock (labour analysis, seasonal calendars, etc.) and the importance of discussing problems, finding diagnoses, etc. with women (discuss with wife);
villager-staff relationships are improved;
(gained similar capacities to village women).
attitude and behaviour towards farmers changed ("no longer proud");
know how to talk with people and listen - know how to give others a chance to talk;
now work bottom-up rather than top-down;
understand that farmers have important knowledge (all through adult learning methods and PRA methods - listening exercises, role plays, etc.).
improved their understanding of the importance of participatory approaches;
learned from initiators (through staff discussions, sharing).
Project management and staff
gained participatory training skills for key project management (participation in initial training modules);
use participatory methods in monitoring and project design (transfer of skills from PIHAM training, e.g. Women's Programme revisions);
learned from mistakes and can work with trainers to correct them;
improved their planning capacity (greater understanding of community needs through direct contact and continuous monitoring of PIHAM pilot and replication phases);
recognize that without the involvement of women, key livestock information is incomplete (through participating in early PIHAM training and analysis).
are more aware of the farming systems in their areas and elsewhere (through exchange related to PIHAM processes);
can modify training (manuals).
UN agencies in Afghanistan 10
hAve raised awareness of the importance of community participation in planning (through sharing of PIHAM experiences with other UN agencies);
have future potential for sharing methods with other projects/programmes.
THE OVERALL FAO LIVESTOCK PROJECT and the Women's Programme both gained from the introduction of PIHAM's participatory appraisal and monitoring approaches. Male project staff and male villagers recognized women's important contributions to livestock management and subsequently revised their training and field-level activities to reflect and incorporate this new-found gender awareness. Women's Programme staff set out to revise their own programme, to make it more in-line with PIHAM's participatory approaches to needs identification and problem solving.
The following advice is provided for those wishing to support gender-responsive, participatory planning processes, particularly in Afghanistan and other countries (or areas) with similar socio-cultural and gender contexts:
The authors would like to thank: G. Rasoul who piloted them safely from "planner to farmer, and back"; the German Afghanistan Foundation, an NGO in Peshawar that provided food and lodging at short notice; the PIHAM trainers and trainees who allowed them to participate in fieldwork; and, above all, the villagers near Jalalabad who shared their experiences, concerns, humour and hospitality during the authors' time with them.
Thanks also to all those who provided comments on the early drafts, particularly: T. Barker, CTA, AFG/96/007; D. Ward and F. Scanlan, both of FAO Headquarters.
1 Originally the programme was referred to as AHPIM, but this sounded too much like aphim, or opium, and so project staff suggested that it be changed to PIHAM, which means continuous in Persian. This case study does not talk about the details of the PIHAM approach to Herd Health and Production Programmes. Rather, it discusses the participatory, and subsequent gender-responsive, approaches that arose from the introduction of PIHAM to the overall livestock project and the Women's Programme. Fuller details of the PIHAM approach can be found in FAO, 1995A.
2 It is estimated that there are more than 1 million widows in Afghanistan.
3 FAO had a sister project to this programme, entitled Integrated Crops and Food Production in Afghanistan (AFG/94/002). Recently, it has begun a new phase.
4 The Dutch Committee for Afghanistan surveyed 700 farmers in selected villages in 1992 using the Epidemiological Programme of the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (EPI-INFO).
5 All UN agencies working in Afghanistan are well aware of the need to incorporate gender-responsive approaches in their work. To what extent they are able to is another matter.
6 PIHAM is not yet operating in all the areas where the overall livestock project is active.
7 Several reporting forms have been developed by PIHAM for use by women and men farmers to assist in their own processes of monitoring changes in livestock production. Forms have been designed to record livestock births, deaths, sale and acquistion.
8 These findings are not countrywide.
9 Includes both men and women initiators trained to date
10 Includes, to varying extents, Chief Technical Adviser; National Assistant Manager, Livestock Production; National Manager, Animal Husbandry Services.
11 "Policy" in the sense of future UN/donor planning and/or in the sense of future national and regional government policy.
FAO. 1995a. Animal Health and Production Improvement Module (AHPIM): an approach to designing and implementing herd health and production programmes in developing countries. By S.J. Holden, K.J. Bazeley, S.D. Ashley & P.B.S. Bazeley. Rome.
FAO. 1995b. Promotion of farmers' participation through the implementation of Animal Health and Production Improvement Modules (AHPIM) in Afghanistan. FAO Project Document TCP/AFG/4553. Rome.
FAO. 1997a. Workshop report for Module 5 of PIHAM. By K. Iles. Rome.
FAO. 1997b. Afghanistan agricultural strategy. Rome.
FAO. 1997c. Terminal statement for the pilot phase of PIHAM: Animal Health and Production Improvement Module (AHPIM: LOCAL). By K. Iles. Islamabad.
FAO. 1997d. Progress report on planning workshop for the Women's Programme. By K. Iles. Islamabad.
UNDP. 1996. Human development report, 1996. New York.
UNDP. 1997. Afghanistan PEACE Initiative (1997-1999). Islamabad.
UNOCHA. 1995. Progress report: Women in Development (WID) Fund for Afghanistan.