Posted February 1999
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Good practices in gender mainstreaming and implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
FAO project sheet: Afghanistan
Project titles: "Animal Health and Livestock Production Programme in Afghanistan"; "Promotion of Farmers' Participation through the Implementation of Animal Health and Production Improvement Modules in Afghanistan" (PIHAM).
Project duration: 3 years (1994-1997)
Executing agency/agencies: FAO
Implementing agency/agencies: Livestock in Development (LID)
Source of funds: UNDP
In 1994, UNDP amalgamated two separate livestock/veterinary projects in Afghanistan under the execution of FAO. The subsequent project, "Animal Health and Livestock Production Programme in Afghanistan, moved from a prior focus of rehabilitation to one of sustainable agricultural development, emphasising the active participation of the community in the development process. Activities included animal health and veterinary services; introduction of improved fodder and nutrition; and breeding and poultry development. These activities supported the rebuilding of Afghanistan's self-reliance and production capacities to produce livestock and livestock products backed by self-supporting veterinary services. In response to the need for more participatory approaches to be implemented in the livestock project, FAO developed the PIHAM sub-project in 1995. This project was founded on a generic programme developed by FAO and was based on the experiences of using participatory approaches elsewhere in Asia. Project staff, together with consultants from Livestock in Development (LID), undertook a concentrated process of methodology modification, field-testing, and replication, to arrive at an appropriate participatory approach for use in Afghanistan. Thus PIHAM was born.
Since its inception, PIHAM has acted as one of the key "vehicles for change" for the livestock project and its sub-activities, including the Women's Programme, driving the processes of exchange, reflection, analysis, and adjustment. Through the encouragement of participatory methodologies, it has created a "safe space" necessary for all project staff from the lowest to highest levels to discuss problems and share successes, both across horizontal and vertical organisational levels.
Specific changes resulting from the project
- The participatory approaches used, not only improved staff responses to farmers' needs, but importantly highlighted, perhaps for the first time, the magnitude to which rural women are involved in livestock production systems. This in turn had implications for the kind of information that was gathered - project staff recognised that without the inclusion of both women's and men's knowledge about their animals, effective responses to livestock production constraints were unlikely.
- The name of the programme was originally AHPIM, but due to the pronunciation, the word, "aphim" sounded too much like "apheen" or opium. Thus, it was suggested that the name should be changed to "piham", which in Persian means "continuous". This was very meaningful in the context of the veterinary services programme, because if the veterinary staff do not have continuous contact with the farmers, they are not able to collect information according to the need of the farmer.
- 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 recognise the important role which rural women play in livestock management and health. It is important to keep in mind, in measuring the lessons learned, 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." However, project staff at all levels recognised that such a goal could not be met without the involvement of both women and men farmers as well as women and men initiators.
What was planned
To support gender-responsive participatory processes in agricultural planning, particularly in situations where it is difficult for both female and male technical staff to meet directly with rural women. It points to the fact that the knowledge and experience, as well as the needs and priorities of different household/community members must somehow be incorporated in planning. Otherwise, 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 level up to the policy level.
What was the strategy
The process of implementation was a move away from top-down, centrist approaches to those based on the identified needs of communities and grassroots implementors. The project's introduction of more participatory training, information gathering and monitoring methodologies through PIHAM, had clear impacts for vetenary field units and project staff in terms of highlighting farmers' roles in, and knowledge of, livestock production. Most importantly, this change of approach was instrumental in bringing to the attention of both project staff, and to villagers themselves, the critical role which women play in the management of livestock.
Who was involved
UNDP, FAO and project staff. LID (Livestock in Development, NGO from UK) for training.
The new project phase continues under UNDP-funded "Sustainable Livestock Development for Food Security".
What was learned, factors contributing to success
- Project planning and strategies must be flexible enough to respond to changing situations. This is important at all levels, from field level, through project management, and up to the donor level.
- Recognise that project activities may be more costly and time-consuming. Plan accordingly (project document, budget, workplans, etc.). To include women, both at the technical level and at the village level, is potentially more costly due to several constraints, i.e. having to talk to women in each household rather than in a village group setting as for men. Also, women may be required to have a male relative travel with them, or they may have to travel in pairs, therefore travel may be more costly. Training for female and male project staff may have to be held separately. This must also be considered in drawing up a budget and allocating staff/consultancy time. Also, participatory approaches can be more time-consuming and more costly over the short-term, but the long-term benefits are worth the effort.
- Ensure that women initiators/village workers carry clear messages from village women back to central planners, project headquarters. This should include noting any other needs/priorities/concerns identified by women, e.g. women's lack of access to resources and inputs so that the planning process can specifically respond to those needs (possibly different from men's).
- "Harmonise planning needs of the community" - Need for regular dialogue between female and male staff at all levels (both horizontal and vertical). Regular staff sessions should be conducted (between male and female staff, not just female staff and project management) to share experiences and lessons learned from working with both women and men farmers.
For more information, contact:
Women in Development Service
Women and Population Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100, Rome, Italy
Tel: +39.06.5705.5102 Fax: +39.06.5705.2004