Feasibility of Agricultural Asset Transfers to Improve Nutrition in Pakistan
The study draws evidence from a range of source:
• Desk review and asset transfer programme reports
• Quantitative data from Women’s Work and Nutrition (WWN) survey (2016). The cross-
sectional survey covered 1,035 mother-child dyads in 13 districts of Sindh, Pakistan
• Key informant interviews with programme staff of selected asset transfer and nutrition
• Qualitative interviews with beneficiaries of land livestock transfer programmes in Sindh
Agriculture needs to do more for high undernutrition in Pakistan.
Pathways framework¹ helped understand Ag2Nut connects in South Asia.
Systematic reviews of evidence² ³ also highlight a number of disconnects between
agriculture and nutrition, particularly lack of access to land and gender inequalities.
Feasibility of Agricultural Asset Transfers to Improve Nutrition in
Ayesha Mysorewala and Haris Gazdar
Collective for Social Science Research
Name: Ayesha Mysorewala
Organization: Collective for Social Science Research
Website: www.researchcollective.org | www.lansasouthasia.org
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New York Academy of Sciences, 1331(1), 43–56.
2. Balagamwala, M. & Gazdar, H. (2013). Agriculture and nutrition in Pakistan: Pathways and disconnects. IDS Bulletin 44(3): 66-74.
3. Rao, N., Gazdar H., Chanchani, D., Ibrahim, M., forthcoming. A Systematic Review of Women’s agricultural work and nutrition in South Asia: from
pathways to a cross-disciplinary, grounded analytical framework. LANSA
4. Women’s Work and Nutrition Survey (2016)
5. Mazhar, S., Balagamwala, M., Gazdar, H. 2017. Paper presented at the LUMS International Conference on Gender, Work and Society. April 2017.
6. Kabeer, N., 1999. Resources, agency, achievements: Reflections on the measurement of women’s empowerment. Development and change 30,
7. Flintan, F., 2008. Women’s empowerment in pastoral societies. IUCN report.
8. Azzarri, C., Zezza, A., Haile, B., Cross, E., 2015. Does Livestock Ownership Affect Animal Source Foods Consumption and Child Nutritional Status?
Evidence from Rural Uganda. The Journal of Development Studies 51, 1034–1059.
9. Meinzen-Dick, R., Pradhan, R., 2002. Legal Pluralism and Dynamic Property Rights. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), CAPRi
Livestock is integral to rural households and its ownership is more equally distributed than
ownership of land. Moreover, livestock management is considered the domain of women and
(small) livestock is considered a woman’s asset.
In Pakistan and South Asia, livestock transfers are a popular strategy to improve livelihoods,
and more recently nutrition.
However, livestock transfer programmes including the Government of Sindh’s recent multi-
sectoral nutrition strategy continue to focus on income and consumption.
Therefore, livestock transfers remain a missed opportunity and potentially important entry
point to increase women’s bundle of rights, and securing rights around livestock as a means
to increase their access to other productive assets.
Over 50% of female respondents said they owned various species of livestock. Yet
there was a decoupling between ownership and control of income, depending on type
of livestock (Fig. 2).
This is likely because while livestock management is largely a woman’s responsibility
(Fig. 3), extension services and marketing remain the domain of men in Pakistan.
The dynamic nature of livestock as an asset may be an opportunity to shift norms
towards increasing women’s rights to property. Livestock transfers may be an
important strategy to increase income and consumption⁸. The impact can be deepened
by strategic targeting of women and increase their ownership rights in contexts where
they are fluid.
Methods and Materials
A revised agriculture-nutrition framework (Fig 1.) suggests that women’s work (and
empowerment) is not a causal factor but a mediator between household poverty
status and its food security and nutrition.
LANSA studies highlight that boundaries between reproductive and productive work are
Positive effects of empowerment may be muted by existing interventions that increase
women’s work burdens.
On the other hand, women’s control over resources has been associated with their
ability to exercise choice and thereby nutritional outcomes.
Therefore context matters and mandates a clearer understanding of drivers of women’s
agricultural work; household social and economic status; prevailing labour market
arrangements; and arrangements and capacity in households and communities with
respect to child care.
Figure 1: Revised pathways suggested by Rao et al (forthcoming)
Dynamics of ownership and control of assets, and women’s work vary from place to place.
This has important implications for the impact of agricultural interventions. Research should
be directed towards unpacking these dynamics and contribute to more nuanced design of
Shift focus to women
Transferring livestock to women is an important step towards recognizing women’s work and
their contribution to productive and reproductive labour. Future programmes should move
beyond the focus on women as a homogenized group and include caste, class and religious
differences to target the most marginalized populations.
Strengthen property rights
NGOs and governments may have influence over social norms governing the transmission of
productive assets. In this regard, livestock should not be given as an end and reinforce
existing norms of ownership of what is considered a woman’s asset. Instead, assets should
be transferred as a means to increase their ownership and control of other assets such as
large livestock and land.
Improved communication and design of future programmes can help establish legitimacy of
the claim on productive assets, enhance women’s legal knowledge and literacy, and provide
external support structures to increase their fall-back position⁷.
The interrelatedness of livestock with other subjects such as marketing, environment and
production systems makes it a privileged entry point to change norms around gender-related
issues. Programme design should include mechanisms to trigger institutional changes and
make markets and extension services more women-centric.
Monitoring and evaluation
Current programmes focus on women but do not include measures to determine whether the
asset remains with women. Moreover, programmes evaluations are donor-driven. More
independent research should be invited to evaluate and propose changes to design of
Figure 3: Who manages livestock?
Figure 2: Does the respondent have a say in the use of income from livestock?