Gender & Governance in rural India, Ghana, and Ethiopia

In 2010, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the World Bank (WB) conducted an analysis of agricultural extension and clean water access in rural areas in India, Ghana, and Ethiopia. The surveys were conducted in approximately 1,000 households in each country.

Access to agricultural extension varied across the three countries. There was reported moderate access in India and Ethiopia, and low access in Ghana. Agricultural extension services were reported as inconsistent in many areas and the quality of the service provided varied. Each country in the report had different apparent causes for the inadequate availability or poor quality of agricultural extension services. A common feature in every country was the gendered divide in access to agricultural extension services. Oftentimes, extension service workers did not talk to the women of the household and in some cases, there was a perception that women were not farmers and thus could not benefit from the extension services. Seemingly by default, the extension workers would speak only to the men of the household even if women were a part of the agricultural community in that region.

The IFPRI and WB report also investigated access to clean water in this study. India was reported to have high water access, Ghana had moderate access, and Ethiopia had low access to clean water. The decentralization of water access and maintenance in India most likely contributes to its high amount of clean water access. However, Ghana and Ethiopia do not report high disatisfaction rates even if water access is low. In addition to access, the survey also asked about maintenance and accountability to water systems. Regardless of rates of water access and happiness with water access, the share of households that reported dissatisfaction with their service (or lack thereof) to government officials or political representatives was low.

General recommendations for improving agricultural extension services and access to clean water address the gendered issues seen in every country. Some of suggestions are:

  • Looking at why rural services and solutions fail women: link gender-related efforts to general reform efforts and fix the perceptions that women are not farmers, or do not make agricultural decisions
  • There is a need to obtain gender-disaggregated data on access to services
  • Investigate the possibility of different kinds of community groups for services that are necessary for the entire population of the village or region: for instance, farmer-based organizations are good for targeting farmers but lack access to the entire population for promoting and ensuring clean water access=

IFPRI and the WB also recommended country-specific policy suggestions. There is an acknowledgement that agricultural extension services and clean water access are managed and maintained best by local actors. There have been efforts to decentralize these systems in all three countries, but there are recommendations to make the decentralization more effective.


India
To make decentralization as effective as possible, IFPRI recommends:

  • Creating structures to prevent elite capture of resources
  • Increasing gram panchayat administrative support
  • Making it easier for women to attend gram panchayat meetings

India has not hired new agricultural extension workers for more than a decade (in 2010) and capacity suffers because of this. Further recommendations include:

  • Hiring new extension workers as soon as possible will improve the quantity of farms an extension worker can visit and, hopefully with gender-sensitive training, can help bridge the gap between agricultural extension access between men and women
  • Re-establish the function of agricultural extension workers as a link between farmers and researchers.
  • Expanding extension workers roles even more- there is an opportunity for extension workers to organize inclusive farmer-based organizations and interest groups.

Suggestions for India’s clean water access focus mainly on making the water and sanitation systems more gender inclusive:

  • Getting more women involved in WASH committees
  • Including gender issues in WASH professionals’ training
  • Hiring more women
  • Focusing more on drainage

Ghana
Decentralization in Ghana has opportunities to be stronger. Some recommendations are gender focused:

  • Increasing the number of female district assembly members
  • Strengthening gender district focal points to ensure gender is a priority at the district level
  • Empowering district assembly members more
  • Strengthening the subdistrict structure, so as to aid district assembly members more effectively

Agricultural extension rates in Ghana are low. Improvements can be made by:

  • Better management practices
  • Focusing more on goals and outcomes of the agricultural extension workers
  • Increasing access to female farmers
  • Reconsidering the roles of farmer-based organizations to deliver agricultural extension services more effectively

Access to clean water is hindered by the misunderstanding around Ghana’s Water and Sanitation Committees (WATSANs). WATSANs have limited coverage, so expanding their capacity and strengthening their role in the accountability system is key for more effective implementation.

Ethiopia
Local government has a lot of potential in Ethiopia. The recommendations encapsulate the need for strengthening the capacity and skills of local government and supporting regional government as well. Additionally:

  • There are suggestions to better monitor local service delivery
  • Pay attention to the gender dimensions of service delivery and local leadership
  • Investigate the ruling party process and systems.

Currently agricultural extension services are narrowly focused and delivered from a very top-down approach. Promising strategies to make agricultural extension more effective are:

  • Giving extension workers more discretion
  • Extending coverage to where it is currently limited, like pastoral areas
  • Identifying innovative ways to bridge the gender gap in access to agricultural extension services

Ethiopia struggles with perceptions of clientelism in the delivery of public services. Effective delivery of gender-sensitive and inclusive water systems from water committees, and not political actors, will help make clean water more accessible and better maintained.

The book can be found in PDF form here.

Image courtesy of india.com

Common Violence Hinders the Common Man and Woman

51xb42qd1fl-_sx334_bo1204203200_In the 2014 book The Locust Effect, Gary Haugen makes the case that “common violence” impedes progress in international development. Haugen likens the cloud of locusts that swept over the middle of the United States in 1873, a force that devoured and decimated everything in its path, to the plague of violence that infects the world’s poor and inhibits progress towards a better life.

Haugen lists the main types of common violence that inhibit progress as sexual violence, which includes but is not limited to the trafficking of women and girls and sex slavery, forced labor, abusive police practices, torture, pre-trial detention, and violent land seizures. There is a range of what these types of violence looks like in different cultures and countries, but Haugen classifies common violence as any type of lawlessness that can occur almost anywhere to anyone where law enforcement and criminal justice systems are broken and do not benefit the people. He ties in the title again when describing the relationship between crime and the poor: “unlike the locusts of the Great Plains, who were equal-opportunity destroyers, the locusts of violence in the developing world actually seek out the poor.”

Haugen claims that crime and violence affect the poor more because they are targeted by those who have more power and money. Being born poor is being born with a target on your back; not just for those who will exploit you, but for police themselves. Haugen believes that a lack of training, corruption, and outdated, colonialist police programs that have never learned to serve the common people have resulted in completely ineffective police and criminal justice systems that do not work for the poor.

Violence and crime vary from country to country, from community to community, but almost all law enforcement, criminal justice, and court systems in the developing world could use some updates. Haugen acknowledges that change will not come easily, but claims it can be done. He sees some common themes in successes:

  • Each movement of criminal justice reform required local ownership and leadership of a very intentional effort to transform the justice system
  • Each public justice system had its own particular problems, symptoms of dysfunction, and obstacles to reform that required highly contextualized solutions
  • Committed community leaders and reform-minded elites played a critical role
  • Effective criminal justice systems improved the working conditions of the people working in the system
  • The priority goal of effective transformation efforts was a criminal justice system that prevented violence and crime and built trust with the public

Haugen gives some examples of successful projects and programs that have reformed law enforcement, criminal justice, and court systems.

  • In Brazil a group of organizations have united to combat forced labor slavery. Brazil’s Ministry of Labour and Employment (MTE) has Special Mobile Inspection Groups (GEFMs) that conduct surprise inspections and investigations on landowners and employers suspected of using slave labor. Between 1995 and 2010 these mobile units have rescued 38,301 laborers and the mobile units are being replicated across Brazil. These efforts have raised the profile of forced labor and awareness is higher than ever.
  • In Sierra Leone a small group called Timap for Justice are dedicated to legal empowerment of the poor. They believe that a shortage of qualified lawyers and the lack of available funds to pay for them is limiting the poor’s access to legal services. Timap uses highly-trained paralegals as their solution to address common crimes. These paralegals are trained to provide legal services to the poor without the cost of a lawyer. Paralegals are trained in mediation techniques and to be flexible with multiple approaches to law, whether from a traditional legal standpoint or a religious one. 40% of Sierra Leone has access to a community paralegal now, thanks to this scalable program which is in the process of expanding its reach.
  • A group in Peru, Paz y Esperanza, has mobilized community efforts to bring public accountability to the criminal justice system. By way of awareness and public action campaigns, they have fully secured more than 152 convictions of sexual predators since 2003. Paz y Esperanza brought the epidemic of sexual violence into the public conversation and even led a successful campaign to remove four corrupt judges from the local courts who refused to prosecute sexual violence with integrity.

There are many more success stories and useful lessons to learn in The Locust Effect. Haugen wants us to talk about violence in the broader context of development because he believes that success will only be long-lasting if the threat of fear of violence is diminished. He makes a compelling case.

 

Images courtesy of un.org and amazon.com

OECD Report: Women & Money, or Lack Thereof

In June 2016 OECD released a report that investigated funding for organizations and programs whose objectives target gender equality. The title for this report should speak volumes: ‘Tracking the Money for Women’s Economic Empowerment – Overall Donor Support Targeted for Gender Equality: Small’. It is only recently that budgets and finances have become more transparent. The data revealed by this new level of transparency does not bode well for programs and organizations that have a primary focus to achieve gender equality. Aid committed by Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members specifically for women’s economic empowerment reached $8.8 billion on average in 2013-14, a rise from the average in 2007-8, $5.2 billion. Unfortunately, only 24% of DAC member aid to the economic and productive sectors included targeted gender equality as a primary or secondary objective in 2013-14. Furthermore, aid targeting women’s economic empowerment as the principal objective accounts for only 2% of all aid going towards the economic and productive sectors, a percentage which has not changed for six years.

Screenshot 2016-08-02 at 5.00.44 PM

As seen above, 43% of the $8.8 billion DAC members committed for women’s economic empowerment went towards ‘Agriculture and Rural Development’. According to the OECD report, via the FAO “only 5% of women across 97 countries have access to agricultural and other training activities, and only 15% of agricultural extension agents are women”. Programs and actions that level the playing field for women to avail of agricultural extension services and markets should also be included in future programs. Gender parity is also critical when considering women’s access to owning and controlling land.

17% of the $8.8 billion given for women’s empowerment in the banking and business sector. A lot of this money is focused on microcredit opportunities. While microcredit is a useful tool for many women, the report claims there is lack of importance placed on gender equality in the formal banking, credit, and insurance industries and women should have access to the full range of credit and monetary services at their disposal.

This report highlights the extremely low levels of investment in programs and organizations that focus on the gender dimension of transportation, infrastructure, and the energy sector. Shifts in infrastructure and transportation will improve a woman’s access to markets, jobs, and other services like healthcare and education. Additionally, improving access to affordable energy sources can increase the time for paid work activities and and reduce time spent on unpaid work. An IDS report found that a woman’s benefit to electricity in her home freed up much more time for paid work activities because electricity helped reduce the time needed for domestic activities. The IDS report included a study in Indonesia that found an increase of 27% of rural, nonfarm income after electricity was introduced. The OECD report laments the reality that funding for energy programs so frequently does not include a gender dimension because women would benefit so much from affordable, sustainable energy.

There is a disparity between the call for inclusion of women for the success of the SDGs and numbers that suggest the opposite. If women are deemed important for the ultimate success of the SDGs, the money invested should reflect that importance.

Update 8.15.16: Three reports from the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) have been brought to our attention which corroborate and expand on the OECD report.

How Are We Doing on the SDGs?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were conceived as a vision for the post-2015 agenda. They are an action plan to continue the work the Millennium Development Goals started. We are six months into the SDGs. Do we know what’s been accomplished thus far? How are we doing?

You can see for yourself how well the world’s progress on the SDGs. Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German foundation, has constructed an SDG index. The SDG Index has compiled information for 149 of the 193 United Nations member countries. Each country has updates for each SDG that pertains to it. While there are updates for every country, there is no guarantee that all the data is completely up to date or correctly classified.

chart_of_un_sustainable_development_goals

There is a digital report with the data and country dashboards. Additionally, each SDG has additional data points and insights for OECD countries. There is also an interactive map that displays a ranking for each country and SDG. Each country is given a score based on how they’re progressing, as judged by the official indicators.

This Index is not sanctioned by the United Nations; instead, these reports, indexes, and data sets are meant to be preliminary points for governments and other stakeholders. The SDG Index is a tool that NGOs, governments, and citizens can use to gauge priorities and challenges in their country.

A suggested next step for the SDG Index would be breaking this information down by district, when and if possible. A more geographically detailed report of information would be advantageous for local actors.

You can learn more about the SDG Index and report here and see more information here.

A How-To on Policy Advocacy