Posted February 1999
| Bolivia, Burundi, Nepal, Pakistan, Tunisia
| Costa Rica
| Niger (1)
| Niger (2)
| Sikkim (India)
Project sheet: Nepal
Project Title: "Improving information on women's contribution to agricultural production for gender-sensitive planning"
Project duration: 18 months (January 1996 - June 1997)
Executing agency/agencies: FAO
Implementing agency/agencies: Ministry of Agriculture (Women Farmer Development Division)
Project cost: US$ 124,000
(Government of Norway)
Although much work has been done to integrate a gender perspective in recent Agricultural and Development Plans, agricultural sector planners and extension personnel rarely take rural women's needs into consideration. This means that agricultural training and services do not reach women with serious repercussions on food security and agricultural development. In many cases, planners lack information about the important role that women play in agricultural production and household food security. But more often than not, they don't know how to learn from women farmers about their activities nor how to respond to their needs. To address this problem, FAO designed the project "Improving Information on Women's Contribution to Agricultural Production for Gender Sensitive Planning" and launched it in three pilot countries: Namibia, Tanzania and Nepal. The aim of the project was two-fold: (i) to improve information on the situation of rural women and men; (ii) and to involve them in local planning processes in the agricultural sector.
Participation was a key component of the project both in terms of (i) involving rural people in information collection and planning processes: (ii) and in training the people who are responsible for the planning and delivery of agricultural services on how to work in a participatory manner with women and men farmers. The specific task of the project in Nepal was to test and refine a participatory methodology to incorporate gender concerns into agricultural planning from the grass-roots to the district level. Its main objective was to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture to promote, support and monitor gender sensitive planning at the district level in order to improve current knowledge of the type of training and support services that are required by rural women.
Specific changes resulting from the project
- PRA case studies (2-3 per agro-ecological zone) on gender issues in Nepali farming systems;
- Three short video films on gender issues in agriculture and gender sensitive PRA;
- District level line agency staff trained in the use of gender sensitive participatory approaches to planning;
- Guidelines for gender-responsive agricultural planning at the district level.
What was planned
- Set up of Steering Committees at central and district levels;
- Review of planning methodologies to assess the extent to which they recognise women's roles as farmers and natural resource managers;
- Development of draft guidelines for gender-responsive agricultural planning at the district level;
- Training of district level staff in GA/PRA ;
- Gender sensitive PRA in two or three villages in each of Nepal's 3 distinct agro-ecological zones ;
- Filming of PRA exercises;
- Analysis of results and preparation of case studies by project consultants ;
- Preparation of three training videos on gender issues in agriculture, women in commercial farming and gender sensitive PRA ;
- District-level workshops to present PRA findings to district level planners;
- National Workshop;
- Finalisation of guidelines for gender-responsive agricultural planning at the district level.
What was the strategy
The main thrust of the project was to involve men and women farmers in selected communities in each of Nepal's three distinct agro-ecological zones, as well as district level planners and agricultural outreach staff, in a gender-sensitive planning exercise. District level staff was trained in gender analysis and participatory rural appraisal tools to learn how to identify both women and men farmers' needs. The trainees then had the practical experience of carrying out gender sensitive PRAs in designated villages, with the purpose of working together with the villagers to develop community action plans. Following the PRAs, district level planning workshops provided an opportunity for the participants to present their findings and discuss their community action plans with district level planners. Based on the experience of these planning exercises in the three pilot districts, the Women Farmer Development Division - FAO's main counterpart on the project - developed guidelines for gender sensitive planning at the district level. The project ended with a National level workshop with high level policy makers and Ministry staff to discuss these guidelines and to encourage their adoption into the overall planning processes of the Ministry.
Who was involved
Several stakeholders among which, the Women Farmers Development Division and other Ministry of Agriculture staff at the district and national level, plus the villagers in the nine villages where the PRAs took place. Planners and agricultural field staff at both the district and national level.
The project was an experiment. Its purpose was to see how participatory and gender sensitive planning processes could work in Nepal. It is hoped that the lessons learned from this experiment will be used by the Ministry of Agriculture and by FAO in other needs-based planning programmes and exercises.
What was learned, factors contributing to success
About PRA tools and methods:
- The most important factor to encouraging women to participate in the PRA exercises is to conduct the PRA when the women were relatively free during the day.
- Dividing the participants into male and female groups created a "free space" where the women could talk and participate unhindered by the presence of men.
- Facilitators of the PRA process may need to intervene more strongly to assure that women's voice is not completely overridden by men's when a consensus on community priorities needs to be reached. Facilitators need to learn to listen to women's voices, handle male dominance in discussions and generally create a protected space where women can both participate and speak out.
- One short PRA in a village is not sufficient to bring about a fundamental change in how society views women's roles and status in the community. A longer period of working in each community is needed to sensitise men to women's situation, and at the same time, to empower women so that they can demand their fair share of development benefits.
- A follow-up to the PRA process is very important in order to respond to the problems highlighted in the PRA findings.
About capacity building:
- One short training course and one-round of practice in the field were not enough for the trainees to acquire well grounded skills in gender analysis, PRA and participatory planning. They need more time to learn by putting theory into practice - especially as the hardest thing to learn, for a trainee who is new to participatory methods, is how to adjust his or her own attitudes and behaviour in order to support a truly participatory process with farmers.
- Staff in key decision-making positions need to be involved in the training (or in other project activities) so that they may gain familiarity with the approaches and be willing to support their grass-roots level staff in applying what they have learned. Although projects may have a very bottom-up and grass-roots orientation, they should recognise the need to involve stakeholders and decision-makers at all relevant levels to create a more conducive environment for the project to work at the grass-roots level.
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