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Assessing livestock husbandry, gendered decision-making and dietary quality among smallholder households in rural Timor-Leste


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This presentation was given by Gianna Bonis-Profumo (Charles Darwin University), as part of the Annual Scientific Conference hosted by the University of Canberra and co-sponsored by the University of Canberra, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research. The event took place on April 2-4, 2019 in Canberra, Australia.

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Assessing livestock husbandry, gendered decision-making and dietary quality among smallholder households in rural Timor-Leste

  1. 1. Gianna Bonis-Profumo - PhD Candidate Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods – RIEL Charles Darwin University Supervisors: Assoc. Prof. Natasha Stacey – RIEL, Charles Darwin University Assoc. Prof. Julie Brimblecombe – Dept. of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, Monash University Honor. Prof. Robyn Alders, AO – University of Sydney and Director of Kyeema Foundation Funding: Australian Postgraduate Awards, Charles Darwin University, Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) Seeds of Change Conference – Canberra 3rd April 2019 Assessing livestock husbandry, gendered decision-making and dietary quality among smallholder households in rural Timor-Leste
  2. 2. CONTEXT – TIMOR-LESTE - Independent since 2002 - Post-conflict country - One of the poorest in Southeast Asia - Agriculture-based livelihoods - High child undernutrition 1.2 million-population (GSD and UNFPA 2016) 41% living below the poverty line (MOF and WB 2016)
  3. 3. STUDY Setting • 4 rural, least developed and agrarian-based suku in Easter Timor-Leste • CDNIP participants: a nutrition sensitive-agriculture program (NSA) focused on nutrition education and agriculture diversification Aim • Examine gender relations, particularly women’s agency, related to livestock husbandry and sale, and animal-source food (ASF) consumption among semi-subsistence smallholders in Timor-Leste
  6. 6. RESEARCH METHODS Longitudinal mixed-methods study  September 2017 to September 2018 Tools and data  Seasonal livestock production  Adapted A-WEAI in dual-headed households (n=282)  Semi-Structured Interviews (n=30)  Seasonal child <5 and maternal dietary diversity and animal source foods (ASF) intake Fieldwork components 2017 2018 Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep I. Dietary & production diversity S1 S2 S3 S4 II. A-WEAI III. Semi-Structured Interviews
  7. 7. RESEARCH METHODS Why choosing the A-WEAI • 5 domains of empowerment • 6 indicators vs 10 (WEAI) • Shorter administration time • Internationally validated tool DOMAIN INDICATORS WEIGHT 1 Productio n Input in productive decisions 1/5 2 Resources Ownership of assets 2/15 Access to and decisions on credit 1/15 3 Income Control over use of income 1/5 4 Leadershi p Group membership 1/5 5 Time Workload 1/5 TOTAL 100% Abbreviated Women´s Empowerment in Agriculture Source: Malapit et al 2015
  8. 8. PRODUCTION PROFILE …yet low protein intake 33% 34% 46% 92% 94% 0% 50% 100% Buffalo Cow Goat Pig Chickens Ownership of animals (n=169) 0% 50% 100% Chicken Pig Buffalo / cow Goat Uses of livestock (n=174) Income Food Culture Across the seasons, at least 88% of households owned pigs and chickens, with half owning a herd size of 1-10 chickens and 1-2 pigs.
  9. 9. LIVESTOCK OWNERSHIP Joint ownership and decision-making on livestock, reported similarly by men and women • Animals, irrespective of size, were generally considered household’s assets and not owned individually • Most reported making decisions on livestock jointly with their partner and/or family
  10. 10. LIVESTOCK DECISION-MAKING However, decision-making is nuanced… 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Farmforfood Farmforcash Livestockraising Farmforfood Farmforcash Livestockraising Women Men Extent felt can make own decisions Often Sometimes …power differentials 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Farmfor food Farmfor cash Livestock raising Farmfor food Farmfor cash Livestock raising Women Men Level of input into decisions Always Sometimes Don't
  11. 11. DECISION-MAKING ON SALE Men Women Women were more autonomous to sell eggs and chickens than pigs. Final decision-making on selling livestock
  12. 12. DECISION-MAKING ON INCOME • Control over income from livestock sales was shared, with more men often deciding on its use. Men Women “My husband brings the money home so I need to ask if he agrees to using it. Having enough rice is the priority” Woman, Samalari • Despite women frequently reported as the sole deciders for small ASF purchases…
  13. 13. ASF AND INTRA-HOUSEHOLD ALLOCATION • Around half interviewees described eating meat only during ceremonies, from hunting or when animals die • Differences in ASF allocation according to gender were not commonly portrayed • Eggs were often prioritised to children, corroborated by longitudinal dietary data
  14. 14. DIETARY QUALITY Mothers and children 6 to 23 months old presented very poor diets with a maximum of 15% and 25% achieving the minimum dietary diversity respective thresholds 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% ASF consumption yesterday Child Mother 0 1 2 3 4 Late dry (n=196) Early rainy (n=142) Early dry (n=165) Late dry (n=164) Seasonal mean food groups eaten yesterday by children 6-59 months old 6-11 m.o. 12-23 m.o. 24-59 m.o.
  15. 15. CONCLUSIONS • Ownership and decision-making among rural smallholders in Timor-Leste is shared • Decision-making is nuanced and requires unpacking through qualitative enquiry • Women display stronger agency in small livestock management despite unequal bargaining power informed by traditional notions of gender norms • ASF intake and dietary diversity are low, vary with the seasons, and eggs are prioritised to children • Findings suggest that programs focusing on poultry embed large potential to support women’s empowerment, poverty alleviation and dietary quality outcomes
  16. 16. OBRIGADA BARAK! GIANNA.BONIS- PROFUMO@CDU.EDU.AUPhotos credit: Author 2017-18
  17. 17. REFERENCES General Directorate of Statistics (GDS) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 2016. Timor-Leste National Census 2015. Government of Timor-Leste National Statistics Directorate and United Nations Population Fund. Herforth, A., and Harris, J., 2014. Understanding and Applying Primary Pathways and Principles. Brief #1. Improving Nutrition through Agriculture Technical Brief Series. Arlington, VA: USAID/Strengthening Partnerships, Results, and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) Project. Malapit, H., Kovarik, C., Sproule, K., Meinzen-Dick, R. and Quisumbing, A.R., 2015. Instructional Guide on the Abbreviated Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (A-WEAI). Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute. Ministry of Finance (MOF) and World Bank (WB), 2016. Poverty in Timor-Leste 2014. Government of Timor-Leste Ministry of Finance and World Bank. Ruel, M.T., Alderman, H. and Maternal and Child Nutrition Study Group, 2013. Nutrition-sensitive interventions and programmes: how can they help to accelerate progress in improving maternal and child nutrition?. The Lancet, 382(9891), pp.536-551.