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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

Using online information system to analyze asset portfolios of rural women

Photo Blog Information system asset portfolioFor integrated and equitable territorial development, both women and men need to become active agents and manage their partnership for positive changes in equity, livelihoods and environment. To facilitate these changes, it is essential that we revisit our pre-existing ideas about the roles of women and men. This calls for a concerted effort to gather critical data that shows the differences between men and women that allows us to improve our understanding about gender roles, responsibilities and differences in control over resources. Asset portfolios can be used as a window to improve our understanding of the dynamics of gender roles for agriculture and food, and can be constructed by inventorying resources, actions, and products of women, men and families.

For building and analyzing asset portfolios of rural women and their families, we developed a practical approach by using household surveys which collected information on assets, actions and products for both the women and their families. To facilitate data management and processing, we also developed an online information system programmed in license-free software to store, process, analyze and compare data on land access and use, cropping and livestock management, income and wealth, access to credit, level of organization and perception of risks of rural women and their families. This user friendly application was used for a number of field studies carried out in northern Nicaragua during 2014-15 and permitted us to analyze the differences in the asset portfolios of the families and the women and share the results in real time with a wide range of audience.

For example, when we used the application to analyze the case of 18 women and their households from the municipality of Rancho Grande using the application, the preset outputs revealed that, although there were no landless households in the sample, 35% of the women belonging to the same households did not have any land of their own. Even when the women had their own land, their holding was small (average of 0.6 ha) compared to the farm size of the families (average 11.4 ha). To compensate, many women accessed land through other options: 23% used family land and 6% used leased land. Land use patterns by the family and women were similar, with the exception of pastures (1% of total land holding for women and 7% for the household).

Diversity of crops and animals managed by women were similar to that of the households. However, women’s contribution to the total household production was higher for fruit crops and small animals (part of homestead system), followed by agroforestry (cocoa and coffee) and less for basic grains and bananas. Average gross annual income of the households amounted to US$4144 of which women belonging to the households contributed US$1528 (37%). Women contributed 31% of agricultural income, and 57% non-agricultural income of the households.

Blog written by Falguni Guharay, Scientist, Research for Development, CIAT, Nicaragua and edited by Shadi Azadegan, Communication Specialist, CIAT, Nicaragua. Photograph by Chandreyi Guharay.

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