Smallholder women empowerment: the case of Norwegian agricultural programme in Senanga, Zambia.

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Konnie, Josphat.M.
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The University of Zambia
In Zambian agriculture, women generally perform most activities such as weeding, harvesting, stocking, marketing and processing than men who are largely involved in tillage. However, women are marginalized in terms of access to and ownership of productive assets. In response, government, civil society, private institutions and international donors are increasingly targeting women smallholder farmers in poverty reduction and food security programmes in rural areas. Despite increased focus of donors towards improving livelihoods of women smallholder farmers, evidence shows that benefits accruing to women farmers in development projects are often quite elusive. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of the Norwegian Women Empowerment Programme on livelihoods of women smallholders in Senanga. The study identified benefits accruing to programme participants, how the programme targeted the beneficiaries and how project benefits affect economic status of beneficiaries. The study adopted a qualitative approach based on purposive sampling of 1 farmer group under the project which was the most accessible. Data was collected using a semi-structured interview schedule, focus group discussion guide and key informant interviews. Descriptive statistics and thematic analysis were used to analyse primary data. Programme benefits included; trainings, agricultural inputs, credit and market access. Most participating smallholder farmers benefited more from provision of farming inputs such as seed (74 percent), fertilizer (72 percent) and training (32 percent). None reported benefits due to credit and market support. On targeting of programme beneficiaries’ 71 percent said they joined the programme from self-interest after sensitization from Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM). This targeting mechanism was criticized by key informants from The Ministry of Community Development and Social Services as having resulted in elite capture of project benefits. The study also found that women smallholder farmers did not experience positive changes in all domains of women empowerment as their freedom of mobility in public space was found to be limited to attending religious functions and programme meetings alone. The study recommends that project participatory monitoring and beneficiary assessments should be carried out periodically to get direct feedback from beneficiaries about issues around elite capture and preference targeting of beneficiaries. To really attain women empowerment goals, donor projects should address the agency domain by providing economic benefits high such as market and credit support. Finally, that agricultural development Programmes with a goal to empower women smallholder farmers, should focus on activities that result in changes in their agency (capabilities), structure (institutions/organizations that surround them) and relations (power relations).
Women in development--Zambia. , Women--Zambia. , Women in agriculture--Zambia. , Agriculture and state--Zambia.