Landesa, one of the grantees in the GAAP portfolio, was recently spotlighted in the Wall Street Journal for one of it's projects in India's western state of Orissa.
In particular, it details the establishment of Women's Support Centres in administrative divisions; these centers help to ensure that rural single women can obtain homestead land. The author notes: "If the WSC program extended throughout Orissa, as is likely, more than half a million single women could get land, finally bringing to life the ideals embodied in India’s laws and constitution."
For the full article, click here.
The first part of the series focuses on Landesa's work with landless families, particularly in India. The granting of micro-plots to landless families has proved successful in lifting families out of poverty, contributing to household food security, and freeing up household income usually spent on food to be spent on other purchases, like education. A pilot girls empowerment project works through girl's groups to educate girls in how to grow food for their families; the hope is that endowing the girls with this kind of useful knowledge will make families reconsider marrying the girls off at a young age, allowing them to complete their educations and break out of the cycle of poverty.
The second part of the series focuses on Landesa's founder, Roy Prosterman, a University of Washington law professor.
The series also includes a beautiful Photo Essay, which displays photos from West Bengal, where Landesa's "Security of Girls Through Land" project operates.
On Thursday, March 14th, IFPRI launched its 2012 Global Food Policy Report, entitled Walk the Talk. The report explores the world food situation in 2012; highlights several key issues, including youth employment in agriculture and a green economy; and looks ahead to scenarios in the future of food.
Chapter 4 in the report, entitled “Closing the Gender Gap” focuses on women in agriculture. It points to the growing attention that was given to gender in 2012, particularly through the FAO’s State of Food and Agriculture Report 2010-2011, and the World Bank’s Development Report 2012. It also highlights the Gender, Agriculture and Assets Project as a key example of a project that explicitly pays more attention to gender differences in rights, resources and responsibilities as a way to achieve development objectives. It mentions several of the GAAP portfolio projects, including Land O'Lakes, Landesa, BRAC, CARE, HKI and HarvestPlus. To read the full chapter, click here.
Research and development programming is thus moving from gender-blind to gender-aware, though more needs to be done. In particular, a more solid evidence base on gender in agriculture needs to be built (in particular through more detailed, robust, and longer-term analyses of both quantitative and qualitative gender data); women’s control over assets needs to be strengthened (including natural resources, tools and technologies, and financial, human and social capital); and partnerships with women’s organizations need to be formed (though enlisting men’s support is crucial). A commitment to gender-responsive and gender-transformative agriculture can improve agricultural productivity, food security, and nutrition and thus cannot be ignored.
The event page for the launch event can be found here: http://www.ifpri.org/event/launch-ifpri-s-2012-global-food-policy-report
Transforming thinking about gender was not easy and involved a variety of tactics, including trainings for country and regional staff and country gender working groups, the inclusion of gender indicators in project planning and budgets, the formal recognition of gender targets against which staff would be evaluated in appraisals, as well as engaging men in discussions on the role of women in dairy value chains. Training was also offered to farmer's groups, particularly women, on the benefits of becoming a shareholder in milk-chilling plants. While challenges still remain, particularly in attracting young women to dairying, the project has proved successful: As of June 2012, women made up 29 percent of dairy organization members, up from the 2008 figure of 14 percent.
For the full article, click here.
Last week, the GAAP team met at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for the final technical workshop of the GAAP project. The group, which consisted of the grantees, project leaders, GAAP core members, and External Advisory Committee members, enjoyed the beautiful ILRI campus (including resident antelope!), strong Ethiopian coffee, and two and a half days of presentations and lively discussion about the projects.
Grantees were asked to present their findings thus far and their plans for completing their work in the coming months. After each presentation, discussants drew connections across projects and pointed out ways in which the findings could be clarified or explored in more depth. Grantees were also treated to presentations about how to effectively present their message, as well as monitoring and evaluation. Coffee breaks and group dinners offered grantees the chance to discuss similarities and differences across projects and share ideas and lessons learned. A shopping trip to Addis Ababa’s crafts market created opportunities for bonding and boosting the local economy!
On the last afternoon, a large group took a field trip to Debre Zeit, around 30 miles outside of the city, to a women's dairy cooperative to speak with the cooperative members about theexperience of belonging to the group and the challenges of dairy production. Though the bus was briefly delayed by a pack of camels, the field trip was a success! The cooperative members had questions for the GAAP participants too, inquiring how they can access resources to build their business and what smallholder dairy farmers in other countries have been doing. It proved to be a learning experience for everyone, and a nice way to see a bit of the countryside for the many that were visiting Ethiopia for the first time.
The work of Landesa, one of the GAAP grantees, was recently highlighted in a New York Times article that explores landlessness and land reform in India.
The article quotes Tim Hanstad, the president and chief executive of Landesa, who says, " The conventional wisdom had been that in order to provide meaningful benefits you’d need a full-size farm...But when families had a small fraction of an acre they are often able to use that as a big bump up and foundation for a path out of poverty.” As part of the GAAP portfolio, the Landesa project focuses on micro-land ownership in Odisha and West Bengal, and prioritizes gender issues in land allocation and inheritance.
For rural women in Kenya, secure access to land rights doesn’t come easily. Though the current Kenyan constitution declares women equal to men when it comes to land, this right has not been fully realized in many areas.
That’s why work done by the Seattle-based non-profit Landesa, and other organizations like it, is so important. Landesa is one of the grantees in the GAAP portfolio, working in Odisha and West Bengal, India. Their project focuses on micro-land ownership to reduce poverty, and also works to build homestead capacity for food production.
More broadly, Landesa conducts research and advocacy work on land rights for the rural poor, especially for women and girls. Not only does the organization work with governments to develop new laws and programs that strengthen the rights of existing landholders and broaden access to land rights for the poor, they also work to educate men and women on their rights under law and the resources available to ensure that they are recognized.
For a recent article and short video by Bloomberg News on Landesa’s work in Kenya, follow this link: Bloomberg News video: Maasai Women Seek Land Rights as Gender Gap Slims
BRAC (formerly an acronym for the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) is known world-wide for providing microfinance, education, and health services to poor people. Well-established in Bangladesh since 1972, it has since expanded across Asia and into Sub-Saharan Africa. It receives support from individual donations and grants from the big funders such as the Nike and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations, but most of BRAC’s budget comes primarily from the profits of its own businesses. It runs several food-related businesses, and it also has a string of retail stores (called Aarong) that sell local crafts, clothing, accessories, and home décor items. Less well known but also impressive is BRAC’s support of agricultural research.
With BRAC as its host, the GAAP initiative held its mid-term meeting in November 2011 at the idyllic setting of the BRAC Centre for Development Management in Rajendrapur, Bangladesh. GAAP has two projects working in Bangladesh. One, implemented by BRAC, is part of its larger “Challenging the Frontiers of Poverty Reduction” program that assists women in ultrapoor households to obtain and manage income-generating assets. The second project is implemented by CARE/Bangladesh, “Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain.”
About a half-hour’s drive through small farms and suburbs takes you to Gazipur, the site of one of BRAC’s two agricultural centers. Members of the GAAP team took a
field trip prior to the start of the workshop to the Gazipur agricultural center whose work is supported by BRAC. The group was accompanied by BRAC research and evaluation team members, including Narayan Chandra Das and Wamec Raza. Arriving at the research station, the team was welcomed by Center staff. They provided an overview of the station’s activities and their relationships with other national and international agricultural research programs. Many agricultural offices are located in Gazipur. The center meeting room in which we met was lined with examples of the many varieties of vegetable, legumes, and grain seeds produced and processed by BRAC. The NGO started its production of seed in 1996, growing them on its own fields as well as from those of farmers under contract.
A quick tour of the test plots revealed neat fields at various stages of growth. Scientists at the center described on-going research testing different vegetable and rice varieties. They have been testing both Asian and Africa rice varieties seeking quickly maturing and higher yielding strains that could help Bangladesh to improve its food security. These improved varieties, bred for greater tolerance to extreme weather conditions such as drought or flood, as well as for higher yields and pest resistance, are made available to small farmers in across Bangladesh.
The center employs both men and women in the fields, offices, and as extension agents. Increasingly BRAC’s agricultural programming is expanding a focus on productivity and food security to address the linked issues of environmental sustainability, adaptation to climate change, and income-generating opportunities. The visit to the center helped the GAAP team
appreciate the many dimensions of BRAC’s activities in agriculture.
Last Thursday, the World Bank hosted a workshop with new evidence on gender and access to assets from the Gender and Asset Gap project implemented in three countries (Ghana, Ecuador and Karnataka, India). The project documented a gender asset gap and its impacts on agricultural decision-making, domestic violence, and household decision-making. Findings from the new World Bank Findex database on gender-disaggregated access to finance were also presented. Amber Peterman of IFPRI served as a discussant at the workshop, and findings linking women’s property, mobility and decision-making in India came out as an IFPRI discussion paper last Friday. The workshop underscored the importance of paying attention to gender differences in household asset ownership within development programs, the need to advance best-practices in gender-disaggregated data collection, and the critical importance of context for gender and asset dynamics.
A revised version of the Gender and Assets Toolkit is available online. This toolkit has been developed as part of the Gender, Agriculture, and Assets Project (GAAP) to assist researchers and practitioners who are either new or unfamiliar with using mixed methods for gender and assets data collection and analysis. In addition to establishing the need for gender and assets research, the toolkit defines key concepts and highlights methods for collection, analysis, and dissemination. It also draws from first-hand insights (opportunities and challenges) from previous research projects. For those interested in more in-depth study, the toolkit also links to additional references. This toolkit is a living document that is intended to develop over the life course of the GAAP project. We encourage you to share your experiences doing gender-assets data collection.