When irrigation schemes are created, thought is needed to how inclusive and gender responsive they will be to ensuring that in patriarchal communities, it is not just men that benefitEileen Nchanji Tweet
When the government irrigation schemes were created, the idea was to redistribute land to individuals within and external to the community who could grow crops that would meet the food demands in the different communities and regions amidst the changing climate. Having irrigation meant there was a supply of water to be able to farm more. It was also an entry point where farmers could be provided with access to inputs, like fertiliser which was in most cases subsidised by the government, probably resulting in good yields and high productivity that could meet the food insecurity issues in the region.
However, when these irrigation schemes were created, thought was not given to how inclusive and gender responsive they were going to be. By giving land to those they took the irrigation land from and to those who were interested, in a community like Northern Ghana which is patriarchal, it was the men who got the land.
Later, when there were more interactions with international organisations and a demand for the place of women in agriculture, a gender policy and plan was developed. Irrigation officials in these areas and the farmer associations sat down and discussed how to get women to be part of the land which was considered government owned. In most cases this meant that women got land on the outskirts of the irrigation sites, or land around the irrigation sites which was not meant for farming.
Eileen Bogweh, Nchanji. (2017). The piper calls the tune: changing roles of Northern Ghanaian women in agriculture. Agriculture for Development, 32. 13 -18.
There were many reasons for why women were the buyers and sellers: the man would not want the woman to know exactly what he’s making, and it led to a very clever tracker system of who is in charge and who makes decisions on certain things. However, the advantage was that women were able to really negotiate within the market.
Presently there is a lot of talk about transformative gender approaches. This is something which is being pushed by the CGIAR gender platform and others. The whole idea of gender transformative approaches is moving from just including men, women, or youths in an activity to providing a space where people can make decisions on their life choices, whether it’s what they want to do or how they want to spend the money. It also touched on breaking down structural barriers. Most importantly how to turn these evidence into projects that benefit the people.
It was ethnographic work. The study took place from 2013 to 2015. Used qualitative methods, including separate focus group discussions for men and women, key informant interviews with irrigation officers and chair people of the different groups. Informal discussions took place after the focus group discussions to validate the information. Also worked with experts in the project to quantify whether agricultural land in the urban areas were increasing or not, and to carry out a sustainability analysis on open agriculture.
Jasmyn Spanswick prepared this research following an interview with Eileen Nchanji.