Feminisation of agriculture, out-migration and new gender
roles: an imperative to change conventional engagements
with wom...
Introduction
• Political-economic and climate induced agrarian stress is causing
increase vulnerability for communities ac...
Survey sites

Tibetan Autonomous
Region
Kathmandu

Nepal

Janakpur

FORMER FOREST BELT

Bihar

Biratnagar

Madhubani

MITH...
Contemporary agrarian structure
• Mithilanchal: large cultural region in North Bihar (India) and the
Terai-Madhesh (Nepal)...
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

Adhratadhi, Madhubani
A water-secure world
www.iwmi.org
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

Sitpur, Morang

A water-secure world
www.iwmi.org
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

Part 1 - New drivers of change

A water-secure world
www.iwmi.org
1. Climate change
• Significant changes observed in climate patterns
over last two decades
–
–
–
–

More unpredictability
...
2. Broader pattern of agrarian stress
• Unequal terms of trade for agriculture, driving up price of
inputs, particularly i...
3. Agricultural adaptation?
• Limited spread of low tech climate smart
technologies
• Limited investment in surface canal ...
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

A water-secure world
www.iwmi.org
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

Thalaha, Morang

A water-secure world
www.iwmi.org
• Adaptation not scale neutral
• Many technologies are out of reach for
poorer farmers
• E.g. Less than 6% of marginal/ten...
4. Non agricultural adaptation: out-migration
• Diversification of livelihoods through non-farm
labour
– Can address both ...
Table 5: % of migrants from different wealth groups

80

70

60

50

Seasonal
migrants

40

30

Permanent
migrants

20

10...
5. Feminisation of agriculture
• Women are playing an increased role in agriculture
following the out–migration of male fa...
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

Part II – Feminisation of agriculture:
new patterns of vulnerability

Jaleshwor, Mahottari
A wa...
1. Vulnerability due to increased workload

– 66% to 83% of women headed households from marginal/tenant
farmer class
– La...
2. Vulnerability due to loss of resources
• Loss of regular cash income in women headed
households from marginal/tenant fa...
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

Bhuptatti, Madhubani
A water-secure world
www.iwmi.org
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

PART III - Agrarian stress and equitable
adaptation in the context of out-migration

A water-se...
1. Challenges to investment in irrigation at a
household level
• Access to low cost, efficient irrigation becomes even mor...
• Irrigation canal management long the male
domain
• Limited effective efforts for meaningful women’s
participation aside ...
• Sakhi foundation in Bihar successfully created women
run fishing collectives in Madhubani district
• Reserved fishing ri...
Lessons and policy response
• The structure of the agrarian workforce has changed
significantly,
• High out-migration – ye...
Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI

Thank you

Nayabazaar, Morang

A water-secure world
www.iwmi.org
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Feminisation of agriculture out migration and new gender roles an imperative to change conventional engagements with women water users

  1. 1. Feminisation of agriculture, out-migration and new gender roles: an imperative to change conventional engagements with women water users Fraser Sugden – IWMI Nepal Photo: Saaliya Thilakarathna/IWMI Research team: Fraser Sugden, Floriane Clement, Niki Maskey, Anil Philip, Vidya Ramesh, Ashok Rai, Naryan Prasad Sah, Yaman Sardar, Gajendra Sah, Lalita Sah A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  2. 2. Introduction • Political-economic and climate induced agrarian stress is causing increase vulnerability for communities across the Eastern Gangetic plains • This is driving male out-migration and a transfer of new agricultural labour responsibilities to females • New patterns of vulnerability • New adaptation needs for women who are left behind • This calls for a new approach to gender mainstreaming in Agricultural Water Management A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  3. 3. Survey sites Tibetan Autonomous Region Kathmandu Nepal Janakpur FORMER FOREST BELT Bihar Biratnagar Madhubani MITHILANCHAL Darbhanga A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  4. 4. Contemporary agrarian structure • Mithilanchal: large cultural region in North Bihar (India) and the Terai-Madhesh (Nepal). • Tenants and marginal farmers – Tenants, marginal farmers (less than 0.5ha), and landless labourers, form at least 75% of the rural population, and constitute base of agrarian structure. – Tenants and marginal farmers mostly Dalit and Mahadalit in caste heartland, and adivasi in the former forest belt • Large farmers and landlords – At the apex of the agrarian structure, is a local landlord class in the Maithili caste heartland. Mostly ‘large farmers’ rather than zamindars of the past. – Absentee landlord class in the former forest belt (predominantly in Nepal), with mostly adivasi tenants. A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  5. 5. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI Adhratadhi, Madhubani A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  6. 6. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI Sitpur, Morang A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  7. 7. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI Part 1 - New drivers of change A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  8. 8. 1. Climate change • Significant changes observed in climate patterns over last two decades – – – – More unpredictability Greater chilling during winter Extended dry spells, particularly further west More extreme precipitation events • Dry season agriculture becoming increasingly risky. A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  9. 9. 2. Broader pattern of agrarian stress • Unequal terms of trade for agriculture, driving up price of inputs, particularly in Nepal. – High fuel prices on both sides of the border (affects fertiliser and fuel costs) – Limited subsidies for farmers in Nepal • Rising cost of living – Linked in part to rising fuel prices – Increased monetisation of the economy, rising demand for cash. • Political instability, state weakness – Limited investment in key infrastructural works, including power generation – Rampant local level corruption A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  10. 10. 3. Agricultural adaptation? • Limited spread of low tech climate smart technologies • Limited investment in surface canal networks • On farm adaptation options? – investment in tube wells and pumping equipment to offset delayed harvests – investment in labour saving technologies (threshers, tractors). A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  11. 11. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  12. 12. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI Thalaha, Morang A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  13. 13. • Adaptation not scale neutral • Many technologies are out of reach for poorer farmers • E.g. Less than 6% of marginal/tenant farmers own pumps sets or wells A water-secure world www.iwmi.org Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI 3. Agricultural adaptation?
  14. 14. 4. Non agricultural adaptation: out-migration • Diversification of livelihoods through non-farm labour – Can address both climatic and non-climatic stress on livelihoods for marginal and tenant farmer majority – Particularly as cost of ‘adapting’ within agriculture is high • Significant rise in out-migration on a seasonal and long term. – Migration across all wealth groups– but marginal cultivators are more dependent upon this income – High waged versus low waged migrants A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  15. 15. Table 5: % of migrants from different wealth groups 80 70 60 50 Seasonal migrants 40 30 Permanent migrants 20 10 tenants or part tenants landless labourers small owner medium owner cultivators <0.5ha cultivators 0.5-2ha A water-secure world www.iwmi.org Madhubani Morang* Dhanusha Madhubani Morang Dhanusha Madhubani Morang Dhanusha Madhubani Morang Dhanusha Madhubani Morang Dhanusha 0 large owner cultivators >2ha
  16. 16. 5. Feminisation of agriculture • Women are playing an increased role in agriculture following the out–migration of male family members • Significant rise in women headed households • New tasks such as managing irrigation and on farm technology and marketing are becoming part of the female domain • Agriculture remains crucial for family members left behind, particularly for the poorest cultivators. – Migrant remittances can not support whole family. – 50-67% of women headed households are still engaged in agriculture – Women led agriculture subsidises migrant economy A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  17. 17. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI Part II – Feminisation of agriculture: new patterns of vulnerability Jaleshwor, Mahottari A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  18. 18. 1. Vulnerability due to increased workload – 66% to 83% of women headed households from marginal/tenant farmer class – Larger land owners employ labourers to compensate for loss of male labour – Greater vulnerability amongst marginal/tenant farmers A water-secure world www.iwmi.org Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI • Significant increase in work responsibilities for those ‘left behind’. • Affects wellbeing, while also reduces time to engage in other livelihood activities • Affects poorest cultivators
  19. 19. 2. Vulnerability due to loss of resources • Loss of regular cash income in women headed households from marginal/tenant farmer class • Greater vulnerability to climatic stresses such as droughts or late monsoons – Sporadic income from migrant husbands/sons – 2012: Estimated 75% loss of paddy due to late rains, and 65% loss of wheat due to Spring thunderstorms – Depletion of family grain stocks, yet no income to purchase grain A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  20. 20. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI Bhuptatti, Madhubani A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  21. 21. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI PART III - Agrarian stress and equitable adaptation in the context of out-migration A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  22. 22. 1. Challenges to investment in irrigation at a household level • Access to low cost, efficient irrigation becomes even more important for those left behind in villages. • Yet significant challenges remain – Greater responsibilities does not always translate into greater control over finances – Challenges accessing institutional finance – Tube well installation schemes biased against women headed households (lack of land ownership certificates, citizenship) • Capacity for females in women headed households to adapt is dependent upon one’s position in agrarian structure and migrant hierarchy A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  23. 23. • Irrigation canal management long the male domain • Limited effective efforts for meaningful women’s participation aside from tokenistic ‘quotas’ • Significant challenge for women headed households who need to negotiate for water, and ensure their needs are met A water-secure world www.iwmi.org Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI 2. Decaying communal irrigation resources
  24. 24. • Sakhi foundation in Bihar successfully created women run fishing collectives in Madhubani district • Reserved fishing rights for women run cooperative to half the village ponds. • Combined with fisheries training and gender empowerment activities • All costs and profits shared equally • Can this model be applied to irrigation resources? A water-secure world www.iwmi.org Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI 3. Positive lessons in women’s leadership in water management
  25. 25. Lessons and policy response • The structure of the agrarian workforce has changed significantly, • High out-migration – yet agriculture remains critical for women and family members remaining at home. • Need to actively engage with women cultivators – Too much focus by practitioners on ‘traditional’ female domain such as sanitation, household water use – Women are now taking critical role in supplying irrigation for arable crops and are leading on farm management – Need to engage with women directly, address issues of property rights, and ownership of resources A water-secure world www.iwmi.org
  26. 26. Photo: Fraser Sugden/IWMI Thank you Nayabazaar, Morang A water-secure world www.iwmi.org

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