Gender and individual irrigation technologies



Gender and water technologies use for irrigation and multiple purposes in Ethiopia

A new report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) outlines the results of a study on gender and individual irrigation technologies in two Africa RISING Project sites in Ethiopia, Bale (Illu Sambitu Kebele) and Lemo (Jawe and Upper Gana Kebeles).

Based on a survey of 79 farmers (38 men and 41 women) across four types of water lifting technologies, the study explored the intra-household gender dynamics in Africa RISING pilots of water lifting technologies (rope and washer pump, tractor and drip, and solar pumps). The technologies are installed near farmer households to produce irrigated fodder, vegetables (carrot and cabbage) and fruits (avocado) in the dry season, and to serve multiple other purposes. Diesel pump users already producing dry season vegetables in the sites were included in the study.

The study found that farmers use the water lifting technologies for multiple purposes across seasons with improved water quality enhancing use for domestic purposes. While the project targets both women and men farmers, women still have lower access to most resources, particularly information. Men were found to mostly control the use of the technologies especially for irrigation, though both women and men perceive the level of control over the technologies differently. Nearly all respondents indicated that the technologies ease work both on-farm for irrigation and for domestic and livestock watering roles.

Women and men respondents ranked double cropping as the highest benefit of the technologies, followed by domestic uses and livestock watering, though men also considered social status improvement as a benefit. Most respondents said there is equal sharing of benefit within the household, though there is indication that men have more control over income from the technologies. Women primarily make decisions on use of the income from the technologies only for food and small household purchases. In addition to benefits at household level, respondents consider the technologies as beneficial to community, because they provide easy access to water for domestic purposes.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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