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IV - Income generating activities (IGAs)

IV - Income generating activities (IGAs)

The main thrust of the women's development activities would be to assist women in the sustainable establishment of income generating activities to be undertaken in or near the home. in some pilot villages. This could be also one of the main objectives of the self-help female groups formed with the support of the Project through its reinforcement of group promotion activities. IGAs tend to give women a higher status within the family and studies generally indicate that the greater the amount of income under women's control the greater amount devoted to their children's education. heath and nutrition. As previously mentioned generally incomes of women are used for the increase of the well being of the family. However it is essential to guarantee that women will have the control of the funds (saving funds loans etc) and the free disposal of them to implement IGAs. During the feasibility study project staff should be very careful on not raised expectations.

As we have previously focused on, the identification of income generating activities should come from a bottom up approach. An IGA should correspond to the needs of women, the failure of this kind of project generally comes from a gap between identifying women's needs and designing viable project. This means that it may be implemented after some steps have already been carried out with the Project's support like: PRA with women to identify problems, elaboration of a negotiated development programme, group promotion. All these activities should be carried out using participatory methods. In this context and according to the suggested strategy, it seems more appropriate to focus on planning, organizing and supporting IGAs than to give a list of activities. Furthermore the following reasons make that the suggestion of potential IGAs should be taken with caution and in any case should not be considered as an exhaustive list:

1 - Potential income generating activities

To the benefits for women, IGAs to be supported should be those traditionally undertaken by women, and located in or near the home. Potential IGAs should concern activities where women can use skills they already possess. Rural women have skills to do small-scale plant and agricultural and animal production, processing and preservation. Areas for potential promotion include home gardens (aromatic and medicinal plants and herbs vegetables), indoor plants, flowers, fruit tree nurseries, animal production dairy products, sewing, knitting embroidering, carpet making. Of course potentialities are various according, to the specific conditions of the village. Marketing must be careful!! considered before undertaking any of these rural enterprises since lack of marketing expertise is the major weakness of this kind of programme.

1) Food drying. processing and preservation

In many rural households women are seasonally involved with these activities, especially in Jordan. They preserve surplus production for household consumption and for marketing when the family needs more cash. However, the regular production of a standardized product for the market is still rare and a wide of local products which could be produced are absent. Most notable of these are:

In Jordan the solar drying of fruit and vegetables is restricted to a few minor crops such as chilies, usually for household consumption. However vegetables such as tomatoes. eggplants can be dried, as well as many fruit, such as figs, grapes, apricots and peaches. The market for these is as yet poorly developed but the world market is expanding every year. There is also a large market for edible and medicinal herbs which remains poorly supplied from local sources.

Production of jams, pickles, vegetable pastes, fruit juices could all increase farm income and women's income in particular since this would generally make use of existing skills and technology.

Packaging is probably important in attracting consumers for local products when they must compete against imports. Producers need advice about moving dried and processed products from rural areas to larger outlets in towns. These activities could be implemented in some appropriate areas of the Project, especially those where fruit-tree plantations are widespread (Jordan, Quneitra, Homs). Olive pickling could be developed in Marassat Al-Khatib and Al-Zeitounah areas. The Federation of Jordanian Women carries out a project concerning herbs drying and packaging run at community level in lrbid district, with good results. It seems to be interesting that the FAO Project gets in touch with the Federation which envisages to set up a similar project in Ajloun district.

2) Preparation and marketing of dairy products

Small-scale milk processing enterprises could be established in villages where there is a surplus of milk. Some NGOs, as Queen Alia Fund, have already developed small credit projects in support of this area in Jordan. Milk processing is one area of traditional female responsibility and production of local cheese is done by women. The knowledge of production techniques is already widespread in several families, especially in Jordan. In Jordan sheep milk products are generally preferred but locally goat products ma! be more popular. One of the main items that store well and is widely sold is jeemid (kind of dried yoghurt).

As with agricultural food processing, the main needs are to mobilize women to produce hygienic products of consistent quality and to match their output to local markets. A range of various products can be made: butter, ghee, cream, cheese, yoghurt, etc.

They may be some possibility of reprocessing locally made cheese and packaging and marketing it through urban food stores where traditional local cheeses are not now sold.

This activity could be developed in livestock raising: areas for instance in the villages close to Ira Yarga range land.

3) Agricultural production

Some agricultural production activities can be carried out in order to provide income such as: vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants. flowers. indoor plants and fruit tree nurseries. The market for aromatic and medicinal plants seems to be important, especially in Jordan. Vegetables and medicinal plants should be linked with processing and packaging activities. Different groups of women could implement these activities according to their own interests and skills, one specialized in production, the other in processing and packaging.

Flowers and indoor plants production could interest villages located close to towns where there is a market for this kind of production. Fruit-tree nurseries could be established by women in Jordan (in Syria this activity cannot be profitable as far as the prices of seedlings are highly subsidized), but the constraint is the necessity to obtain a licence. There is a market for high quality fruit-tree seedlings and a few women have competencies in this area.

Biological produce (fruit and market garden produce) could be an interesting' alternative in Jordan where a market seems to exist in Amman.

4) Establishment and improvement of livestock and poultry raising,

The first priority of many women (most of them belonging to the target group "low educational older women" is to establish or improve their animal production by buying cows or small ruminants or improved poultry (particularly laying hen). In Jordan several NGOs support this activity in providing credit facilities and technical assistance, especially for sheep and Shami goats. In both countries it is encouraged by IFAD projects which provide credit lines for livestock and poultry upgradings.

Of course this activity should be the object of caution especially for goat raising and considered according to the fodder disponibilities and grazing land availability. However we emphasize that it is one of the most fitted to a category of women. Many, of them want to buy, only one cow or a few small ruminants, especially in remote villages chosen in 1996. The implementation of livestock raising should be linked with improved forage production for efficient production of milk and meat. Furthermore it can allow at the same time fodder shrubs plantation in rangelands, what consequently should imply more involvement of women, in natural resources management. One of the principal constraints is the animal health problem which can happen. Improved animals like Shami goats are generally more fragile and need more care. In that case poultry, which needs less investment, is less risky.

5) Other activities relevant to agricultural and animal production

We gather in this heading potential activities which were not mentioned by women either the,! do not know them or the participants did not seem interested (what does not mean that no woman were interested).

6) Handicrafts

Support to develop handicrafts at village level is the priority request of young women in all visited areas in Syria and concern carpet manufacturing, knitting and sewing. These activities are traditional and integrated in the cultural context. Knitting and sewing development is firstly wanted to satisfy the household consumption. Consequently, these activities are within competencies of social services (welfare societies, women's union, etc.). However the FAO Project could support the setting up of micro and small-scale enterprises. There is a gap between domestic handicrafts and those aiming at marketing, which needs business skills and of course entrepreneurship development will not be appropriate for all women. This aspect should be emphasized by the Project in order to avoid the frustration of women who imagine that handicrafts are IGAs which are the easiest to cam out.

In Syria development of small carpet units at village level could be a viable strategy and would allow women to share their time between economically productive activities and domestic responsibilities. Specific looms, smaller than those used in development centres. could be provided (cost of one machine: 23,500 SP). Studies should be carried out to know the potentialities of marketing: contracts with public or private sector, direct sales to consumers? etc. It is recommended to develop this activity at self-help groups level, the final objective being to establish a sustainable women's group which would be able to manage and run itself its own small enterprise. The same strategy might be carried out for sewing and knitting.

7) Shopkeeper activities

One of the main problems expressed by women in Hadia (Syria) was the lack of basis medical services. The possibilities to train one or few women in this field could be explored in order to establish a small people's dispensary at village level or at least a village pharmacy with basic medicines. Investigation should be made to know the feasibility, of this activity and the possible legislation constraints in that area.

Although this was not discussed during the meeting in Ayn Jourin, the implementation creation of a bakery could be envisaged according to the supplying difficulties, linked to the setting up of improved ovens.

2 - Recommendations for implementation

1) General comments; characteristics of IGAs

The general tendency is for women to work in the home and produce goods for domestic consumption. not for the market. However. the aim of an IGA is to produce for the market and furthermore it can be called micro or small-scale enterprise, whether it is managed at individual or group level. One of the main criteria to choose an IGA should be its profitability.

If the Project is providing assistance to these small enterprises, the emphasis must be on orientating them from the social welfare perspective and towards the provision of business development services In order for this strategy to succeed, it is essential that a clear distinction be made between the social welfare assistance and a development strategy that focuses on tapping the economic potential of women producers. The difference between these both activities has important implications in teens of target audience and in teens of overall project design. With regards to welfare assistance, IGAs are generally targeted at a group of beneficiaries that has no prior involvement in the cash economy; IGAs offer women the opportunity to join the labour force and to learn necessary, skills for involvement in economic activities. These activities, however, are designed with a reliance on outside grants built into the project. They are not designed to be self-sustaining business operations. On the contrary business development focuses on a certain level of profitability to ensure self-sustainability . Women involved in small business development generally should have knowledge of the prevailing economic environment and business conditions.

IGAs can be seen as the initiation phase in the progression to small business development. It is difficult to make the transition from being unemployed and lacking in skills to being self-employed and capable of managing a business operation. The first step is TO acquire specific technical skills. Once women have this experience. the next step is to upgrade those skills and introduce women to basic business concepts and procedures.

The transition from a social welfare to a micro and small enterprise approach is reflected by a market-driven approach.

Not all women will have ability and potential to become entrepreneurs, and should be not forced to do so. However, those women who do show the interest and determination to make the move self-employment should have access to training programs that will provide upgrading from technical skills to business skills. The progression would follow this course: unskilled worker - skilled worker - experienced worker- entrepreneur

As before mentioned, IGAs should be in priority those traditionally undertaken by women and located in or close to the house in order to be as far as possible accepted in the cultural context. As any innovation, the implementation of IGAs is going to modify the traditional context, since it means the increase of the economic -and consequently social- role of the woman at the household level. It is obvious that a social change is a long process, generally, conditioned by economic imperatives. In a patriarchal structure of the family where men are decision makers in the household, there is no chance of success for the implementation of IGAs if the,' remain suspicious and not convinced of their interest for the family. Therefore it is essential during all steps of the IGA setting and especially from the beginning (identification and feasibility) to integrate males in the process. Awareness should be made to inform them about the advantages for the family (increase in living standards, incomes and food security). Resources for women represent resources for food security (experience has shown that resources in the hands of women often have a greater nutritional benefit to children than the same resources controlled by men and they are more likely than men to spend a given income on food for the family...) Reducing gender disparities by enhancing the human and physical resources commanded by women leads to growth in household agricultural productivity. greater income and better food and nutrition security for all (Quisumbing et al. 1995). Awareness with case studies in order to show the advantages of the IGA setting is essential to allay men's suspicions. At the beginning it is likely that only broad-minded men will accept the innovation, but good results should gradually decrease the resistance of the others and involve more and more households in the project. It is very important to proceed with caution and this is one of the main conditions for the success of the project.

The same method, based on the awareness and the demonstration of the advantages. should be implemented to raise the resistance of many women to group-based activities. Only economic advantages can be an incentive. Awareness should show that the best results at individual level can be obtained with group-based activities (details are given in the chapter number 4 "group promotion"). It is obvious that a severe reglementation should be set up at the group level, by the members themselves. Coopting should be the rule for the participation in group-based activities. Anyway, during the interviews in the villages, some women (generally single higher educated women) have spontaneously expressed the wish to start group activities. The Project should begin the activities with the voluntaries because, as we have before mentioned, the success of the experience is the best method for extension.

2) Target groups and participation of beneficiaries

Two target groups can be identified according to the skills: women who have already technical skills and those who have no specific skills but seem extremely motivated, generally young women with a good level of education. In the first group there are for example a few women in Quneitra villages. In both cases the determination of women will be the main criterion to develop an IGA. Group promotion will be encouraged for the implementation of IGAs which are more efficient to be run by several women. This does not mean that the production process must entirely be at group level (in many cases, such as animal production, individual production is much more efficient) and only one stage of the process can be run at group level, such as marketing. It is almost certain that young high-educated women will be more inter-active, since a lot of them have the wish to develop group-activities, like craft and food processing.

Each IGA (individual or at group level) should be considered as a project and beneficiaries should take part in all stages of the project, from the identification to the implementation according to the bottom up approach above described. This is essential to reinforce the capacities and assure the self-reliance of the individuals or groups and in the same time allow the sustainability of the activity.

3) Main steps of the IGA setting

The participants should ask themselves how they can obtain income from an activity, and identify the factors contributing to the success of IGAs. At the same time they should ask themselves if they are already involved in the activity. They need to be aware of these factors and to gauge them own skills when they consider embarking on an activity. (Trainers or promotors should allow participants to express themselves treely and note all suggestions at this stage).

This involves finding out whether the women suggesting the activity have the required technical skills and, if not. whether they can acquire them rapidly. The necessity of a minimum of professionalism should be emphasized to allow a minimum profitability of the activity (good quality and competitive goods should be produced). Once the skills of each individual or group have been identified, other prerequisites for a technically feasible operation have to be established (for example water for home gardens, raw materials for handicrafts, feed for animal raising...) Management skills should not be forgotten since an IGA is an economic venture which needs specific skills in management.

In addition to being technically feasible, the IGA should be profitable, that is to say they should produce income or a surplus (profit) and work without subsidies (sustainability). A profit-making activity should be profitable, in other words, returns should be higher than costs so as to produce a profit. Potential market should be identified and involved risks considered.

The feasibility study is essential and should be conducted before starting any IGA (the results will allow to find out whether a proposed activity is a good idea or not!. It is a simple exercise because at this stage it concern only a very small scale activity run at local level in some pilot villages (that is to say it is not necessary a feasibility study at national level for each IGA run at pilot level). But this does not mean anyway that the general socioeconomic context should be ignored. On the contrary the IGAs should be integrated in this context especially for some activities (such village carpet unit).

Once the activity has been carefully chosen all the operations should be identified and listed in logical and chronological order. These operations should be scheduled and a timetable should be drawn up. This means that all facilities and resources needed to carry out a given operation must be available in good time to avoid delay and ensure that the other operations begin on schedule. All tasks vocational training courses should be planned in details.

Products should be of good quality and competitive. Potential markets should be investigated.

Since we are focusing, on profitable activities we should see the possibility of activities financed by the beneficiaries own funds and sources of potential forms of credit In the FAO Project areas it will be difficult for most of women to support start-up costs by themselves according to the lack of savings. It is important that the real costs are supported by beneficiaries. Nevertheless an initial grant to cover start-up costs can help the establishment of the IGA in specific cases (high poverty for example). Grants and subsidies should carefully used because they distort the real costs and consequently the profitability of the IGA. In addition the`' can undermine the self-reliance of the beneficiaries.

Credit may be distributed in several ways and different sources may be explored. In Jordan NGOs have developed original systems of credit. as the following: funds provided at village level are used to provide loans for families and repaid loans guarantee the continuity of the project; savings-credit Project executed by Care allows groups of women to turn their savings into loans for themselves) Traditional banks give credit through normal channels providing the beneficiaries have guarantee. Some projects give facilities which can be suitable for some women particularly women heads of households.

The FAO Project can help women to follow the procedures and apply for a credit and propose specific other ways of credit. particularly in Syria where NGOs are not developed as the following:

The different kinds of loans (rotative revolving or group) could be made according to the specifities and the wishes of the different villages. The procedures advantages and drawbacks of the different kinds should be clarified. It is difficult at this stage to recommend one. Even in Jordan the projects relevant on the field of credit for IGAs have been recently implemented and are at an experimental stage. However the first results seem to show the effectiveness of the revolving loans. Care International has also good results with its Saving-Credit Project. It is recommended to encourage savings although this is not popular. Indeed savings promoting should be made because they reduce the dependency of outsiders and increase the self-reliance of individuals and groups. Savings are the source of credit and consequently represent the heart of development.

4) Group promotion

Emphasis should be made on IGA as a process to enhance capacities of women and to promote and train sustainable self-help groups. As women may not be treated as passive recipients of assistance it is essential 20 build up their confidence in their own abilities and promoting their self reliance.

To promote groups we can propose the following steps:

The Project will play the role of intermediary between the women's groups and the private or public organizations (and persons! who should be involved in the process. especially for training and financing and partnership agreements will be discussed in details. As we already said. the FAO Project has not enough resources to support all activities prerequisites to the launching of the IGA but should identify the resource institutions and persons in order to mobilize the existing competencies.

3 - Training and capacity building needs

1) Beneficiaries

Different types of awareness and training can be carried out according to the level of competencies of the potential beneficiaries:

2) Staff in charge of this component

Until now there are no gender competencies in the Project level to implement the IGAs in the field. That is the main reason win!' the Project should establish relations with other partners in order to maximize use of resources. Nevertheless minimal female staff are necessary for the monitoring and follow up of the activity at different levels, as following:

In both countries links should be developed with the representatives of Women's Unions (at local, district and governorate level) who should be involved in group promotion and implementation of IGAs.

The training programs for the staff should be carried out in priority, particularly the ones concerning the female promotor at village level since minimal skills are essential to initiate the activity at grass roots level. The programs should include the following matters:

Different training modules should be organized for both target groups village promotors and gender persons (extensionists at field unit, district and/or governorate who belong to the Ministry of Agriculture as well as responsibles of Women's Unions concerned by the gender activities in the areas covered by the Project). For village promotors the program should emphasize: participatory techniques, group promotion. local and community development, general information on IGAs and the different stages of IGA. For gender persons it should focus on participatory techniques (particularly, PRA. socio-economic surveys, entrepreneurial management and IGAs.

Priority should be given to identification of institutions and resources persons in the fields needed to provide training as the following (not exhaustive list):

International experts who implement the Local Community Development project in Al-Faradis (Syria) could be resource persons for local community approach as well as participatory techniques.

The regional nature of the FAO Project is a good opportunity for transfer of competencies between Jordan and Syria. Since there are more institutions engaged in women's activities in Jordan as well In using participatory approach, they could be engaged to provide technical support in Syria. Study tours could also be organized in projects involved in group promotion and IGAs.

International consultants should be used only if there are no national resources. Nevertheless international consultancy should be appropriate to develop training models and organize a seminary on participatory approach and methods.

Short training can be envisaged for women posted at central level if possible in arabic speaking countries or/and receive "training on the job" during international consultancies.

3) Extension material

Some guides could be developed by the Project, such as the following:

Some of them can be simplified and realized from FAO existing guides. as "The group enterprise resource book", "The group promoter's resource book" and "Managing income generating. rural activities".

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