Access to resources and services is often a constraint for rural households, and will vary greatly between different household members and socio-economic groups. Women, youth and the landless are often at a disadvantage in terms of access to both resources and services, and it is therefore necessary that the extension services pay particular attention to reaching and supporting these groups. Governments face constraints in terms of how much they can and should spend on different sectors. They also face constraints due to the economic situation in which they currently hold office.
Constraints can be gender-linked. In many instances, constraints to increased productivity are the result of gender-linked differences in access to inputs and resources.
(Adapted from Jiggins et al, 1997)
Consider womens legal and cultural status. How does this affect the degree of control that women have over productive resources, inputs such as credit, and the benefits which flow from them?
What are the existing property rights and inheritance laws that govern access to and use of land and other natural resources? How might these affect men and women differently? What implictions will the death of a husband or wife have for the spouse and children left behind? What sort of impact will this have on their livelihoods?
How do ecological factors such as the seasonality of rainfall and availability of fuel wood affect womens labour? Mens labour? Childrens labour?
What kinds of gender-determined responsibilities (e.g. feeding, caring for the family) do women trade against when producing for the market?
How are extension services staffed, managed, and designed in terms of addressing womens and mens needs and priorities? Are there women and men staff members?
Go to toolbox for more tips.
Labour: who does what?
Which activities are mens responsibilities? Womens responsibilities?
Which activities are the responsibilities of youth, children, and the elderly? Community-based groups?
Are there children-headed households or other vulnerable or disadvantaged groups in your area? What, if any, coping strategies do they use?
Who is responsible for what aspects of crop production? Women? Men? Children? (Think of home gardens, subsistence crops, cash crops)
Who is responsible for what aspects of livestock production? Poultry? Small ruminants? Cattle?
How much time do women spend on these activities? Men? Children?
How frequently? What season or part of the season?
Access to and control over resources
To what resources do women have access?
To what resources do men have access?
At what times of the year?
How do women use these resources? Men? Other groups?
What are the benefits? How are benefits distribuited between household members?
How do they spend their money?
Who controls the resources and their use? What resources do women and men and others have decision-making power over?
Needs and priorities
What are the needs and priorities of women and men farmers? What are the needs of other groups of farmers (old, young, HIV/AIDS affected households etc)?
What extension support do they need? (see the next page for more questions)
Are there groups that are particularly vulnerable? (E.g. children/youth- or grandparent-headed households, people living with HIV/AIDS, poor households, people with disabilities, etc?)
What activities do they typically engage in?
What are their special constraints?
What are their priorities?
Questions related to assessing extension services/organisations
What is the demographic profile of the area? Has there been an increase or decrease in population, number of rural households? Composition of households?
Are there groups in the community that are particularly vulnerable? If yes, why? Disabled? Youth-headed households, HIV/AIDS (or other chronic illness) affected households?
Who supplies extension services? What are the strengths/weaknesses of each to meet a certain need?
Who are your clients? Men, women, youth, HIV-affected households, others?
Where are they located and what is the social, economic and institutional context?
What do they need? Advice on tools, low-input crops, access to credit, HIV/AIDS information/counselling, animal or fish breeding, income diversification, marketing of forest products, etc?
To what do they give priority? Time-saving technologies, veterinary advice etc?
What can you offer, when, at what cost?
What can others offer, when, at what cost?
The following table might be of help in organising the information you get on services being offered to communities:
Type of organisation
Services provided to rural people
Geographical area covered
Segment of population covered
Expertise available in organisation
Number of male/female staff in organisation
Go to toolbox for Stakeholder Analysis - Venn diagram
Water is at the heart of many livelihood activities and is an important source of food and income (for example through fishing and fish processing). Freshwater is an essential input to many livelihood activities, such as food preparation, livestock and crop production. It is also an indispensable household resource for health and sanitation purposes. Water availability is often a limiting factor to production and the dry season increases the time spent on water collection - often the task of women. The SEAGA Irrigation guide provides more guidance on this topic.
Understanding gender roles in household water use is crucial to giving due attention to everyones needs, for instance when planning water-based interventions. Both women and men should be represented in water management associations to ensure that the water needs of all clients are considered. If water is a constraint to efficient household resource management, it is important to gather data on water needs and possible solutions such as water conservation, harvesting and storage techniques. Linking up with other service providers and local groups could be useful for sharing information or explore collaboration.
Some questions to ask about household use and management of water
What are the different water sources for households? Has the water availability increasead or decreased over the years? If so, why?
What are the different uses of water in the area in terms of community use, household use and individual use within households? What amounts of water do these different groups and individuals need?
Which household members collect water? Who decides how water will be used for different productive household activities (e.g. home gardens, cash crops, livestock), and reproductive activities (e.g. drinking water, cooking, bathing, washing)?
How can extension workers and communities address competing uses for water?
Are there water usage fees? What impact does this have on different households and on different individuals in the household (e.g. women, men, youth, the old)?
How can extension services help improve access to safe water? Which priority do women and men give to interventions aimed at reducing time spent on collecting water? What support could be given to households with labour-shortages?
Go to toolbox: Resource matrix, activity matrix and stakeholder analysis
Knowing how land is held, allocated or divided along kinship and gender patterns is essential for extension work. The issue of access to land is highly sensitive - politically, religiously, legally and culturally - so it needs to be handled carefully.
Households and different household members have different degrees of access to and control over land as well as different ownership and inheritance rights. Ownership and secure tenure are indispensable conditions to improving agricultural activity and to supporting the ability and interest of rural women and men to engage in sustainable agriculture. Womens access is often limited to household and personal use for crops through a male family member. Their landholdings are typically smaller than mens. Access to land largely depends upon (FAO 2002a):
Custom and religion;
Intra-household power relations and status; and
Economy and education.
Some questions to ask about household use & control of land
What is the existing land tenure pattern in the area? How are land rights obtained and distributed? Are inheritance patterns matrilineal or patrilineal? How does this affect access to and distribution of land? How does it affect different peoples land use within households?
Within households, who uses what land? For what activities? Using what tools/labour? Within households, who makes the decisions about the use of land? Who has the right to sell or give away land?
Have provisions been made for female-headed households and for women in male-headed households to obtain land titles? Have measures been taken for women to register as tenants upon the death of their husbands?
What are men farmers preferences: household plots or individual plots? What are women farmers preferences?
How can extension services assist different household members or different types of households to improve their access to land? Which organisations could the extension services and/or men and women link up with?
Go to toolbox: Resource matrix
Both women and men seek opportunities to earn cash for immediate use or for savings for later use. Often, diversifying the incomes of the poorest households means using as little land and inputs as possible. It is important to remember that many, in particularly women, may only be able to commit a small amount of time to new activities if these are added to existing task and responsibilities.
Many rural men and women live in marginal areas with poorly developed transportation and communication to urban areas, so certain types of income generation activities may not be suitable for all locations. Small-scale farmers also have to compete with intensive farming that may be encouraged in new resettlement zones. Below are some questions that can be used to assess possible interventions, but please see FAOs SEAGA Microfinance Guide for more guidance on this issue.
Assessing possibilities for introducing alternative businesses
What are the skills and interests of different household members? What is the most appropriate type of enterprise that has the greatest potential to help the household and its individual members? Is this feasible in terms of access to markets and time allocation in relation to other responsibilities that provide the household its livelihood and food security?
What is needed to help the client(s) develop essential business skills (e.g. literacy, book-keeping, marketing, household budgeting etc.)? How can extension workers assist in strengthening different household members skills and access to credit, other inputs or services?
What information exists to help women and men link up with farmers organisations and cooperatives that specialise in production or marketing? What is needed to help facilitate access to opportunities and services? Can extension or other service providers help identify feasible ventures and potential markets?
How can rural people be encouraged to save?
Who in the household has access to credit? What is needed to access credit (e.g. land title, collateral)? Are there community-based micro-credit schemes working in the area? Are there savings groups in or near the community?
What kinds of indicators can be developed to measure progress against the planned objective of increased income (for whom)?
Go to toolbox: Resource map, sources and uses of money, and stakeholder analysis
A good understanding of time use by different household members and groups of clients can assist extension workers to plan visits, training and other activities that require the presence and time of women, men, youth or other groups. It can also help extension workers to understand the needs of women and men in terms of time- and labour-saving technologies. At the same time it can help avoid adding more work to an already overburdened household member while trying to make sure that time used on some of her/his other tasks are reduced. For more details on labour-saving technologies, see FAO/IFAD (2003) and FAO/IFAD/JICA (1998).
Some questions to ask about time use and labour-saving technologies
How do women, men, youth in a household spend their time? How much time does each spend on agricultural activities? Cooking, child-care, care-giving? Community activities? Leisure? Sleep? Variations by season?
How do women and mens days compare in terms of time use over 24 hours? Across different socio-economic groups? Grandparent-heades households?
Which time of the day/year is the best for extension visits to women? Men? Youth? The elderly? More vulnerable households? the very poor?
What are the best time of the year to hold training, field demonstrations and other extension activities that would otherwise take time from household members? Is it different for women and men? Households with sick members?
What agricultural equipment do different household members use? Need?
Could collaboration between people or households help save time?
Looking at the different household members roles & responsibilities, who requires training for a specific technology? One person? Everyone? Ensure that training is given to the person who will actually use the technology!
What are the specific needs of youth- or grandparent-heades households? How can household members with weak health be supported?
What information channels or support services exist to help farmers make informed choices about technologies and who in the household has access to these? Is this information unbiased? It is free of charge?
Are there substitutions and shifts of wage/unpaid labour with the introduction of a technology? For whom? Women? Men? Children? Poorer?
What is the effect on other stages of production and who is involved?
Go to toolbox: Activity matrix
Extension workers should be aware of the developmental and cultural context as well as other situations that lead to low nutritional status of certain groups in communities or individuals in households. Good nutrition requires enough food, proper health and adequate care. Nutritional demands vary depending on age, sex, health status and activity level. During pregnancy and breastfeeding women need extra nutrients to keep themselves and their babies healthy. Good nutrition cannot cure AIDS or prevent HIV-infection, but it can help to maintain and improve the nutritional status of a person with HIV/AIDS and delay the progression from HIV to AIDS-related diseases (FAO 2002b). Women may play an essential role in feeding their family, but ensuring good nutrition is the joint responsibility of all household members, including men.
Some questions to ask about nutrition and household food security
What is the local understanding of nutrition and household food security? What is considered an adequate diet? Does it vary by household member? How are needs met in the lean season?
Who in the household makes decisions about food allocation within the household?
Do all household members have access to a variety of foods (staple crops, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, dairy products, oil, sugar, water, fish, meat, eggs, etc) all year round or which part of the year? Can gaps be filled by using existing land and household resources? Communal plots? Are there other options? Labour-saving technologies that can free labour?
What kinds of crops/vegetables do household members grow? What kinds of livestock do household members rear? Which ones does the household consume? Which are marketed? Which wild foods does the household consume?
Does any of the household members have extra nutritional needs (pregnant or breastfeeding women, the chronically ill)? How could these needs be met?
Who makes decisions about different food produced by the household? Marketing?
Who prepares the meals? Who feeds the children?
How do members of the household store/preserve different produce? Are these safe methods? What is the quality of stored produce?
What kind of nutrition information is available and who has access to this? Which other organisations could the extension services and the community members collaborate with to improve nutrition and household food security?
Go to toolbox: Resource map and activity matrix