Gender and development People

Posted October 2000

Socio-economic and gender analysis (SEAGA) training tools in support of Household Resources Management

Presentation by Ms Diana Tempelman, FAO Regional Officer, Women in Development
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The Women in Development Service (SDWW) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has developed a training entitled Socio-Economic and Gender Analysis. SEAGA, as the package is called in brief, enhances an understanding of the socio-economic patters that together constitute the context for development. Some elements of the material focus on sensitising policy makers to the approach. Most elements aim at building capacities of individuals at institutional and grassroots level to introduce SEAGA into their work.

The SEAGA package consists of global level handbooks, ready for adaptation to country specific situations. Furthermore the package is constantly being expanded with sector specific training manuals.

My presentation consists of two parts:

I. Part I - gives an overview of the concepts and definitions used in SEAGA, its analytical entry points and the different levels of the interventions; this is followed by
II. Part II - which gives an overview of the draft sector guide on Household Resources Management


Throughout the development of SEAGA, the work benefited from collaborations with various international organisations and donors: World Bank, ILO, USAID and the Governments of the Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and others. Of late, many National Governments in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe are closely collaborating with FAO in adapting the materials to their country specific needs and testing them.

The overall package consists of:

  1. Framework and users Reference Guide
  2. Macro level handbook
  3. Intermediate level handbook, and the
  4. Field handbook

Given the magnitude of this work, I will just give you with the following PowerPoint presentation a brief introduction on its basic principles and approaches.

PowerPoint presentation

So far the general principles of the SEAGA training package. We will now look into how this works out in a given sector, the strengthening of Household Resources Management, situated at -rural- household level.



The Women in Development Service (SDWW) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has developed this `sector' guide in response to the growing need for community-based extension agents to deal with a multitude of challenges facing poor rural households. On Friday a special session will be held, providing examples from Poland and Cameroon on how selected projects have worked with similar material related to Household Resource Management.

Purpose of the guide

The main purpose of this guide is to inform extensionists and raise awareness about critical issues affecting poor rural households, as well as highlighting opportunities and constraints for their socio-economic advancement. In this context, the guide will:

The guide is divided in four sections:

  1. Concepts of household and household resource management and analytical frameworks to plan for the development of successful development policies.
  2. Key issues influencing access, control and effective utilisation and management of household resources
  3. Strategies for the improvement of household resource management
  4. Tools and methods for gender-responsive and participatory analysis and planning for improved household resource management

1. Concepts of household and household resource management and analytical frameworks to plan for the development of successful development policies

One of the key concerns of development practitioners is the inefficient and ineffective utilisation and management of scarce resources at the household, intermediate and macro levels. In order to obtain a clear understanding of the issues influencing the livelihood strategies and resource management of rural households, it is necessary to define the concepts of household and household resource management.

A rural household is defined "as a social and economic unit on which its members depend for economic survival, maintenance and social advancement. (Gebremedhin, 1997). A rural household is characterised by four distinct but inter-related dimensions of social relationships that are important in the analysis of gender division of labour and management of household resources.

Household resource management is the "process of making decisions about how to maximise the use of resources, such as land, water, labour, capital, inputs - whether purchased or produced on-farm -, cash, agricultural credit and agricultural extension" (Engberg, 1990). Each of these resources are accessed and managed by women and men differently, based on the gender division of responsibilities and management.

The unequal division of household resources within households is one of the main causes of conflicts. We often see that when resources are controlled at one level, this may create constraints at another level.

This is why the guide provides extensionists with the appropriate SEAGA tools for analysing the situation of each household member - men, women, young and old - and provides tools for conflict identification and management within a community.

2. Key issues influencing access, control and effective utilisation and management of household resources

2.1 Contextual issues that impact household resource management

Without going into too much detail, I will mention here:

1. Feminisation of poverty

The economic crises of the 1970s and 1980s, Structural Adjustment Programmes, social and political dislocation, have affected women more than men. ". It is estimated that more than 70% of those living in absolute poverty are women. This led to what has been termed as the "feminisation of poverty". In many developing countries, male out-migration, armed conflicts and the breakdown of traditional family structures have increased the number of female-headed households. These factors have contributed to the expansion of women's activities in agriculture, hence the term "feminisation of agriculture". Depending, among others, on whether female-headed households receive remittances or not, these households are more likely to be in the poorer strata of society.

2. Structural Adjustment Programmes

Structural Adjustment Programmes were designed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to enable governments to reduce poverty after the economic crises of the seventies and the eighties. Such programmes have provoked positive and negative impacts on household resource management.

It should be noted that the globalisation and liberalisation of trade may bring more difficulties than returns for rural women and poor households in general because of the reduction of international aid and, correspondingly, diminishing national social budgets in the poorest countries of the world (ECOSOC, 1999). Extensionists and the communities involved should be able to analyse the impact of Structural Adjustment Programmes on household resource management. This information needs to be fed back to the planners to enable them to formulate and develop appropriate safety nets for the poorest rural households adversely affected.


Both poor and affluent households are affected by HIV / AIDS. However, the plight of the poor is more visible due to the direct (medical and funeral expenses) and indirect (labour availability) loss of resources resulting from the disease. Women also have to bear the social cost of it in terms of daily care and willingness to accept more responsibilities. The loss of resources, especially money, knowledge and labour, have a tremendous effect on the households' human resources management and, in case of the death of the male spouse, may result in additional problems with regard to access to land, credit and extension services.

2.2 Intra-household issues that influence household resource management

Management is defined as the "process for planning and implementing the use of resources to meet demands/goals" (.Engberg, 1990). Household members participate in this process according to social norms and the gender division of responsibilities.

Decision-making is a critical area of household resource management and includes economic, social, technical, legal and political decisions. The involvement of women and men varies based on the types of and stages of the decision-making process, as well as the areas of decision-making. In order to enhance their possibilities of gaining access to, and control over resources, the disadvantaged household members, especially women, have to develop or strengthen their skills in decision-making, problem solving, negotiation and management.

Principal intra-household issues members will be facing are, access to and control over:

An analysis of credit schemes in Kenya, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia and Zimbabwe revealed that women receive less than 10% of all credit earmarked for smallholder farmers and only 1% of the total credit to agriculture (FAO, 1998).

2.3 Linkages between contextual (macro and intermediate) and intra-household (micro) development constraints and opportunities

As mentioned before, the SEAGA provides extension agents and planners tools to understand and strengthen linkages between the macro level (policies, legislation and strategic plans), intermediate level (Institutions such as Credit and Extension organisations to implement policy and strategic plans) and field level (Intra-household dynamics and impact of policy and plans on the livelihood strategies of the poor households). This is critical, for development planning, programme implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

3. Strategies for the improvement of household resource management

3.1. Savings and micro-enterprise development

The Guide provides guidelines on how to promote micro-enterprise development. Extension agents can support this by:

3.2. Reorientation of agricultural extension services

A study undertaken by FAO, in 1995, in Nigeria, Thailand, Syria and Trinidad, on how to improve extension work with rural women, clearly demonstrated that male extension agents do not consider the dual role of women farmers by scheduling meetings and demonstrations at times and places inconvenient or inaccessible to women farmers. Furthermore extension services have a tendency to target farmers who own land and have access to credit to purchase inputs and technology, which is expected to facilitate the implementation of their extension messages. Extension services need to take gender based time and resource constraints into account, if they want to expand the scope of their service delivery.

Insufficient availability of female extension workers is often used as an excuse in reaching female farmers. Many developing countries, however, have women's extension systems, or home economics extension personnel, who are under-utilised.

Overall, the reorientation of agricultural extension services in many developing countries presents exceptional opportunities for the socio-economic advancement of rural women. A new vision seems to be emerging, reorienting extension services that include women as contact groups, to conduct gender specific research and to broaden the support provided.

3.3. Agricultural research

Agricultural research has historically ignored small crops and livestock production systems as well as women's post harvest activities. Researchers have now realised that neglecting women as agricultural producers and resource managers has weakened every link in the chain of sustainable agricultural production. Thus, one of the priorities to improve and support sustainable food security in the developing countries is to put food crops cultivated and consumed by women and their families in the developing world high on the research agenda.

These are critical issues that require agricultural extensionists and researchers to collaborate, basing their interventions on the demands of the farming systems of the resource-poor farmers. Examples of research constraints and possible solutions follow:

Research agenda targeting resource poor and women farmers

1. Limited land and problems with soil fertility

Higher value enterprises requiring:

  • Little land such as poultry or rabbits
  • Value added through processing
  • Intensified cropping using fertiliser
  • Mixed farming, soil conservation techniques and using household refuse to make compost

2. Credit

  • Inputs in smaller packages
  • Credit to women's groups

3. Labour

  • Labour savings equipment for water collection and food processing
  • · Labour reducing technologies such as herbicides and multiple cropping (Saito & Spurling, 1992)

3.4. Decentralisation

The decentralisation process of agricultural extension services brings advantages for some farmers and disadvantages for others (Malvicini, et al., 1996; Rivera, 1996). National budgets face difficulties in maintaining a public-sector extension service. This makes that the decentralisation of extension services is occurring at a time that increasing emphasis is placed on the development of the private sector. This and increasing recognition for the importance of farmer participation has led to a wider scope for private sector provision as well as NGOs. (Smith, L.D.1997.)

It is important to recognise that privatisation of extension services is undoubtedly most appropriate where farmers have the financial resources to purchase the services and advanced technologies. However, in many developing countries the rural poor, the landless, female heads of households and women farmers do not have access to credit to pay for these private services. "This is especially true for those who depend on subsistence agriculture as a means of survival. Yet they are the very population most in need of public financed extension". (FAO, 1996. Sustainable Rural Development: Progress and Challenges. Rome, Italy).

The Household Resource Management Guide provides some of the main features of demand-driven agricultural services relevant to agricultural extension services as gleaned various FAO implemented projects and programmes as well as International Consultations on this subject.

Having illustrated the key issues affecting household resource management of poor rural households, the next step is to plan, in collaboration with them, the appropriate gender-responsive interventions. Hereto, the GUIDE provides check lists for gender responsive and participatory analyse, planning as well as monitoring and evaluation activities and gives specific tools that can be used for gender responsive participatory planning. This will be the focus of the last section of my presentation.

4. Tools and methods for gender-responsive and participatory analysis and planning for improved household resource management

The aim of this section is to assist extension agents in identifying whether the issues raised in the previous sections are relevant to the situation of the rural communities they work with. The tools presented here (the majority of which are taken from the SEAGA Field-level Handbook) are categorised as follows:

4.1 Development context toolkit

Some of the questions to be raised when reviewing the development contextual issues affecting household resource management are:

  1. What are the socio-economic and cultural patterns in a village and a household that influence the way resources are allocated between households and within the household?
  2. What are the linkages between macro, intermediate and micro level in terms of resource allocation meant to benefit rural households?
  3. What are the key factors that support or limit equitable rural household resource management within the community or households?
  4. What is improving and what is deteriorating?

The relevant tools used for analysing contextual issues at the micro-level include:

Tool 1 Village resource maps
Tool 2 Village social maps
Tool 3 Trend lines
Tool 4 Venn diagrams
Tool 5 Institutional profiles

I will give you an example of :

4.2 Rural Household Analysis

The Rural Household Analysis tool enables us to learn about how rural people, as individuals, households and communities, develop their means of livelihood, with which resources and how.

The questions that should be answered in this case are:

The following tools are available in this guide for undertaking a livelihood analysis:

Tool 6 Activity Profile
Tool 7 Access to and Control over Resources and Benefits Profile
Tool 8 Income and Expenditure Matrices
Tool 9 Cash Flow Tree

I will give you an example of the:

4.3 Priority setting and planning (stakeholder analysis)

Stakeholders are defined as "all different people and institutions, both inside and outside [the household], who stand to lose or gain given a particular development activity". The stakeholder analysis tools enables development agents to learn about the priority actions and development opportunities for addressing the identified problems.

The key questions are:

The selected stakeholders' analysis tools are:

Tool 10 Pair-wise Ranking
Tool 11 Problem Analysis Chart
Tool 12 Stakeholder Conflict and Partnership Matrix
Tool 13 Best Bets Action Plan

I will give you an example of the:

4.4. Participatory monitoring and evaluation



This tool can be used to undertake an analysis of any given situation, including monitoring and evaluation, by reviewing key questions on strength, weaknesses, opportunities and limitations or threats in implementing a given development activity or evaluating the performance of a service delivery institution. It can monitor progress on group savings and project activities, or it can provide information on the provision of services from agencies and institutions set up to serve them. The principle words that guide the analysis, monitoring and evaluation are:

5. Conclusion and invitation

So far the presentation on the SEAGA training package and its draft sector Guide on Human Resources Management. We have seen the different interventions levels SEAGA targets: Macro (Inter-National, Regional & National), Intermediate (Institutional and sub-National) and Field (community and household) levels. We have elaborated on the impact of socio-economic AND gender issues on development activities and we have seen the need for a multi-sectoral approach.

The Household Resources Management sector guide of the SEAGA package provides rich training material for extension agents AND Institutions involved in re-orienting extension services and providing training hereto.

FAO is pleased to invite any of you interested in collaborating in its further field testing and ensures you that such collaboration will be mentioned in the final version of the Technical Guide.

If your Institution is interested in such collaboration, I suggest you make this known to the Women and Development Service of FAO:

by e-mail at
by fax : +39.06.570 52004, or
by mail: Women and Development Service, SEAGA Unit
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla 00100 Roma Italy

Thank you for your attention

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