Posted February 1999
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| Sikkim (India)
Good practices in gender mainstreaming and implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action
FAO Project sheet: Sikkim (India)
Project title: "Development of Small-Scale Livestock Activities in Sikkim, India"
Project duration: 2 years (October 1994 - October 1996)
Executing agency/agencies: FAO
Implementing agency/agencies: Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services (AHVS), Government of Sikkim.
Project cost: US$ 100,000
Sikkim is a former Himalayan mountain kingdom that was, until recently, geographically and culturally isolated and is now annexed to India. In 1994, a modest Technical Cooperation Project (TCP) was begun that had far-reaching impacts in terms of introducing new methods and approaches. Activities focused on livestock breeding, and on training of agricultural and forestry extension staff and community development workers in a range of new approaches and methods. These included participatory assessment, planning, and monitoring; gender analysis; and rapid appraisal of tenure. As with other projects studied in this series, the training focused on looking at differences in access to various resources by gender and age. The training also emphasised applied, field-based practical tools and techniques to allow the trainees to explore the differences in the activities, constraints, and priorities for adult men and women, boys and girls, and elderly men and women.
A strong participatory and gender focus emerged early on in the course of project planning. It was considered that most goats in Sikkim receive their day-to-day care from women, who also look after chickens. The scope of the proposed project was broadened to include village poultry production, and to include a gender focus. In addition, the original project scope was expanded to include agro-forestry, soil and water conservation, and fodder production elements. This occurred in part because of the concern related to conservation and sustainability issues, but also because later participatory rural appraisal (PRA) research strongly confirmed that both gender responsibilities and natural resource constraints would influence the ultimate success of the project.
Specific changes resulting from the project
- Introduction of gender analysis (GA) and applied PRA methods in Sikkim;
- PRA and GA yielded considerable new knowledge about constraints facing the rural poor, and especially women and girls;
- Undertook preliminary environmental assessments in South and East Sikkim into forest dependence, land tenure, land use, and the impacts of heavy dependence on forest fodders on Sikkim's vulnerable mountain ecosystems;
- Made preliminary steps to reorient the extension approach of AHVS, Forestry Department and RDD towards participatory, gender-sensitive community-based development;
- Raised awareness among Government of Sikkim (GOS) staff about the benefits of gender-sensitive participative impact monitoring, to understand project impacts (e.g. effects on incomes; labour burdens, health and nutritional benefits, gender and age of participants) - in other words, who benefited and how;
- Raised awareness among GOS staff at both the district and senior policy levels of the need for improved institutional linkages and coordination, and the need to improve delivery of extension services and messages;
- As girls are traditionally withheld from school for agricultural tasks, many participants are functionally illiterate. The training increased their knowledge, abilities, and self-confidence. The training also fostered considerable mutual cooperation and interaction among the participants;
- Increased incomes, productivity and food security from the introduction of improved breeds of goats and poultry, and from improved management. Egg production increased by 200%. Increased incomes from selling eggs had a significant impact in terms of poverty alleviation by easing household cash shortages, reducing dependence on moneylenders, providing an alternate source of income to casual daily manual labour (such as working as part of a road crew), and enabling women to purchase food and medicine for their children.
What was planned
To improve livestock management practices by small farmers in the East and South Districts, resulting in increased incomes; and to improve skills and outreach of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services extension staff.
What was the strategy
- Training of a small group of mid-level GOS field staff that are capable of applying such techniques in future GOS projects, as well as training other GOS staff in the methods;
- Training of low-income participants (primarily women and girls) in several villages in small-scale livestock rearing (e.g. goat and poultry production) and in resource conservation techniques;
- Initiating a range of activities related to small-scale livestock production including goat-breeding with Jamnapuri bucks in two villages; promotion of stall-feeding and zero-grazing techniques; on-farm research into tree and field fodders; the introduction of Rhode Island Red (RIR) breeding stock in three villages; and monitoring the environmental and social impacts of these activities;
- Raising the awareness of GOS higher-level officials in the benefits of participatory, gender-sensitive approaches and methods.
Who was involved
The responsibility for implementation of the project rested with the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, who provided the National Project Director (NPD). The day-to-day operational activities were coordinated by the Project Liaison and Training Officer (PLTO). The PLTO and Sikkim's only Goat Development Officer (GDO) were seconded to the project for technical, training, and monitoring activities. Recognizing the interdisciplinary nature of the project, a Steering Committee/Interdepartmental Working Group was established, with members drawn from several different GOS services. Technical backstopping, additional training, and monitoring support was provided by the core team of international consultants, each of whom visited Sikkim at least three times. In addition, the technical officer from Rome provided a monitoring visit toward the end of the project.
Follow-up projects have been proposed to continue the successful initiatives of the pilot TCP project. Unfortunately, funds have not yet been available to refine the project methodology, expand project impacts to new villages, or to initiate additional activities that have been identified as key to resolving problems of resource degradation in Sikkim. Efforts are underway to identify possible donors to sustain the momentum initiated by this small but successful project.
What was learned, factors contributing to success
- Both the Government of India and the state Government of Sikkim had put forward broad new policies of economic development, including strengthening of rural agricultural sectors. They had adopted policies of strong support for minority tribes and scheduled castes, which make up a majority of the population in Sikkim. The project also coincided with a period of renewed interest in locally based participatory and gender-sensitive approaches;
- The PRA and gender analysis methods, the mix of tools and the interdisciplinary techniques, proved to be very useful and beneficial, not only in the PRA exercises, but also during monitoring activities;
- The project was originally conceptualised by the AHVS to focus only on goat production, with male farmers inherently targeted as beneficiaries. However, the PRAs strongly indicated that a reorientation of the project to more gender-sensitive, participatory, environmentally sustainable and interdisciplinary approaches was needed for several reasons;
- The importance of re-iterative, practical, field-based training in PRA and gender analysis;
- Promote interdisciplinary learning and documentation in the field by using such PRA/gender analysis tools as the Sondeo team approach, rapid appraisal of tenure, and gender-differentiated task calendars;
- The planning of project interventions involving those who will be directly impacted by them;
- The introduction of participatory impact monitoring in the project design. This is key to understanding and documenting both the positive and negative impacts of a project;
- Thorough research and understanding of basic differences in access to natural resources (for example, by gender, age, caste or clan) in any agricultural development project;
- The creation of opportunities to share field-based knowledge with senior level staff and policy makers.
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