Capacity development of partners in agricultural value chains is essential to help achieve gender equity. Value chain development interventions tend to favour men because they dominate markets and control the money from sales while women who do most of the work are unrecognized and receive fewer benefits. Many organizations express interest in integrating gender into their agricultural programs, but lack the knowledge, skills and understanding of how to do so. To narrow the gender gap, institutions, programs, and projects must have the skills and resources needed to address the different needs of men and women farmers.
Capacity development is a priority in the Livestock and Fish Program gender strategy. As part of this strategy, the program has embarked on an initiative to strengthen the capacity of its national partners in mainstreaming gender in their work to achieve gender equity, improve food security, nutrition and agricultural development. The intended skills include: identifying needs, gender analysis, use of transformative approaches, measuring impact of systems approaches among others. A team of consultants has been commissioned to support the program in designing a gender capacity assessment methodology which will be undertaken in four value chain countries: Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Nicaragua.
This initiative has undertaken several steps:
Step 1: Scouting for partners in Ethiopia
Inclusive partnerships is key in capacity development and this stage focused on identifying key partners to co-design, co-review and co-pilot the methodology. This will lead to design of a comprehensive context specific methodology and foster uptake of the products to achieve greater impact. Several partners were contacted in July 2014 to develop a better understanding of what they have done so far in relation to capacity development, their interests in the agenda and potential to contribute to the design of the gender capacity assessment methodology including funding opportunities. Organizations contacted included the Ministry of Agriculture, SNV Netherlands Development Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), private sector, Ethiopina Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Area (ICARDA) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) staff working with the Livestock and irrigation value chains for Ethiopian smallholders (LIVES), Forage and the Livestock Master Plan projects.
Step 2: First consultative meeting with partners
To further explore partners’ roles, a follow-up meeting was organized in October. The aim was to develop a better understanding of the role(s) that development partners, the private, public and civil society sectors can together play in co-creating a gender capacity assessment methodology and roll out a plan in targeted project sites, thereby contributing to the Ethiopian government vision to strengthen gender capacities for the livestock sector, a crucial component for successful implementation of the Livestock Master Plan. This meeting was attended by partners from LIVES, Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and SNV. During this meeting, partners acknowledged the importance of capacity development to all institutions and they expressed interest in being part of the process. Partners echoed that several institutions have developed methodologies to assess gender capacity needs but there is no comprehensive and well organized methodology that can be used by different stakeholders. Therefore, to develop a more comprehensive strategy for Ethiopia, other institutions that need to be included in this process, as proposed by the partners, included the Agriculture Growth Program, the Canadian government and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The importance of linking to high level officials (e.g. government ministries and regional offices) was strongly emphasized in order to get their buy-in and foster uptake of the products by end-users. Engaging the women directorate and extension was considered insufficient since orders tend to come from the top. Hence the need to engage institutions at higher levels. This approach was considered to be more viable at a later stage when ILRI has more staff to push the agenda forward and evidence to support the strategy is available. Participants underscored the need to align the capacity development strategy with government needs and priorities to secure ownership, commitment and financial support.
Issues that needed further clarifications were:
- How changes over time were going to be measured
- How to design and implement a mentoring/coaching program
- The ultimate result from the initiative and partners’ stake in the whole initiative
- The design and sequence of the capacity development activities
Step 3: Pre-assessment of partners’ gender capacities
The team of consultants together with ILRI scientists working on gender issues visited the small ruminant value chain partners in Mekelle district to test the validity and reliability of the draft tool. Partners engaged with included LIVES regional office, Tigray Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), Mekelle Research Center, Atsbi Bureau of Agriculture, and farmers in Golgol Neale kebele. The trip to Ethiopia was originally aimed at piloting the methodology and tools developed for the partner’s gender capacity assessment. However, at the time of traveling the methodology and tools were still in early development stage and could not yet be tested. Instead, the trip focused on getting a better understanding of the reality in which Livestock and Fish Program partners work and getting a feel of their gender capacities. With these organizations, a discussion was held on their gender capacities using the six core gender capacities and three overlapping and interdependent levels i.e. the institutional, organizational and individual levels, including the enabling environment as framework. Such analyses facilitate establishment of the root cause of the problem that needs to be addressed. The draft methodology and specific assessment matrices were tested among different types of partners exploring capacities already available and the functions these partners are likely to play and/or already play in the value chain sites.
Step 4: Evaluation of the gender capacity assessment tool and methodology with partners
Proceeding the pre-test, a follow-up workshop with partners was organized to jointly review and strengthen the tool. The results from the pre-test, gender capacity and development, gender capacity development strategy were presented to the partners who included key development partners such as Send a Cow and ATA, and research partners (ILRI, LIVES and Africa RISING). Emphasis was placed on making the methodology context specific. The key issues which emerged from the discussion and need further exploration are:
- Do we have a national study that assesses what women and men really want? To what extent are we going to assess what communities want and how this can be used in assessing the capacities to meet the needs of women?
- What kind of gender research has already been done?
- Where is the country going with strategy development including the extension strategy?
- Which partners do we need to assess?
- How can we scale out best practices?
- There is need to translate research indicators into development indicators
- If we want to strengthen Innovation Platforms on gender, what do we need to do?
- What strategies are we going to use to identify who we are going to assess?
- What does gender transformation mean and how can it be measured? How can we develop this capacity? There is lack of capacity to recognize gender transformation and document the process.
- There is need for a good Monitoring and Evaluation system in place.
Additional meetings will be arranged to further engage with partners (SNV, GIZ, DFATD, CARE and USAID) who were unable to join the meeting. Follow-up meetings with the director of the Gender Mainstreaming Directorate, the director of Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and the DFATD capacity building advisor will be scheduled to further adapt the tool and foster its adoption.
Step 5: Implementation of the gender capacity assessment tool and methodology
This will include actual use of the final tool and methodology to assess partners’ gender capacity needs. The results from the pre-test have been used to further modify the tool and methodology. In Ethiopia, the tool will be implemented in the seven small ruminant value chain intervention sites located within the five regions in 2015. This will lead to the design of a comprehensive capacity development strategy and a long term gender intervention action plan. It is anticipated that the methodology will be used by the Livestock and Fish Program development partners as well as other CGIAR and ILRI’s projects such as LIVES and Africa RISING.
Article contributed by Annet Mulema and Els Rijke