Considering gender-differences: The key to effective agro-climatic advisories

In Vietnam, women farmers’ needs and preferences affects how they receive, share, understand and act upon weather-related information. Learning about the gender dimension of communicating agro-climatic information is a must. Photo: L. Sebastian (CCAFS)

The needs and preferences of women and men farmers must be considered in order to disseminate agro-climate information effectively.

Women are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In many cultures, men farmers can access agro-climatic information more easily, which constrains women’s participation in decision making at various levels.

To enable women farmers, ethnic minority farmers, and agricultural planners to better anticipate and respond to risks and opportunities from changes in weather patterns, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) implemented the Agro-Climate Information Services for women and ethnic minority farmers in Southeast Asia (ACIS) project. Led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and CARE International, the project provides practical agro-climatic information and guidance, with particular attention given to the unique gendered aspects of disseminating this information, in Vietnam, Lao PDR, and Cambodia from 2015 to 2018.

As part of the ACIS project, a new brief was published to elaborate on the gender-differences in agro-climatic information services. It summarizes the baseline survey and the testing of different agro-advisories conducted in ACIS projects sites in Dien Bien and Ha Tinh provinces, Vietnam. The survey gathered information on diverse aspects of livelihoods, food security, climate hazards and impacts, as well as access to and quality of weather and agricultural information. A total of 595 farmers (180 women and 139 men, of which 90% are ethnic minority farmers in Dien Bien and 134 women and 142 men with less than 2% are ethnic minority farmers in Ha Tinh) were interviewed using a baseline survey questionnaire conducted in December 2015.

Based on the survey, women and men face unique challenges in terms of domestic labor which impact their participation in agricultural production activities. Women and men differ in a range of aspects from agricultural responsibilities and decision-making to market engagement. Also, women and men perceive some weather impacts on crops differently and diverge in how they receive, share, understand, and act upon weather-related information.

The other half of the brief discusses the testing of different agro-advisories developed in the ACIS project. In June 2017, the team conducted a survey at a Participatory Scenario Planning (PSP) meeting to test the six samples of the agro-advisory developed. Men and women farmers were separated into two groups of 10 each and asked to rank the agro-advisories based on the following criteria: (i) easy to understand; (ii) provides useful information; (iii) provides appropriate and necessary information; and (iv) takes time to read. 

In a Participatory Scenario Planning (PSP) meeting, a survey was conducted to test the six samples of the agro-advisory developed in the ACIS project. Photo: Tuan Minh Duong (ICRAF)

Results show that women and men had similar preferences for how the agro-advisory information was presented based on the six samples prepared in the study. These group preferences help informing the final design of agro-advisory information tools to maximize understanding and facilitate action. The process requires continual revision and testing to ensure actionable information addresses the needs of stakeholder groups.

Intra-household information sharing can be improved by understanding the gender dimension of labor distribution, information dissemination, and collaboration. The study reinforces the idea that gender factors must be integrated into project design, policy formulation, and implementation at all levels.

Download the info note: Duong MT, Smith A, Le TT, Simelton E, Coulier M. 2017. Gender-differences in Agro-Climate Information Services (Findings from ACIS baseline survey in Ha Tinh and Dien Bien provinces, Vietnam). CCAFS Info Note. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

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Eisen Bernardo is the Senior Communication Specialist of CCAFS Southeast Asia.