DR ANITA SPRING
DEPT. OF AHTa'CCLOGY
UNIVERSITY 0. FL .3ZA
GAINESVILLE, FL 32611
RURAL HOUSEHOLDS AND RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
AN ECOSYSTEM PERSPECTIVE
Guidelines for Teaching and Learning
by Lila E. Engberg
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS
RURAL HOUSEHOLDS AND RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR
DEVELOPMENT: Guidelines for Teaching and Learning has been
written for use at post-secondary levels of education in
agriculture, home economics and other rural development
programmes in order to promote a "whole" systems approach. The
ecosystems framework is the conceptual model proposed because it
is a model which considers the interdependence of humans and
environments. It is especially relevant to recent concerns for
ecologically sustainable development.
The guidelines are meant to be of special help to
programme planners and trainers of trainers. All four units of
study or one unit at a time could be incorporated into an
academic programme or be used for in-service training.
The preliminary version of these guidelines was issued
by the Food and Agriculture Organization in May, 1988 and
distributed to a number of individuals and institutions for
comments and suggestions. Those comments and others, obtained
during three workshops held in 1989, led to this present version
of the guidelines. Major contributions were made by participants
at workshops held in Thailand in April, in Malawi in July, and in
Nigeria in August, 1989. For your information, the names of the
major contributors to this version of the manual appear in the
"Aknowledgements" section on the next page.
' Special appreciation and thank you to all persons and
institutions who cooperated in providing suggestions. Many new
ideas and examples have been added to this final version of the
manual. Other ideas are expected in the future, based on
experiences resulting from the use and adaptations of these
guidelines within various countries.
An initial paper proposing arframework for the study of
"Intra-Household Resource Allocation" was submitted by the author
to the Women in Agricultural Production and Rural Development
Service of FAO for a 1986 workshop. The workshop on "Curriculum
Reorientation in Home Economics and Rural Development in Selected
Countries in Africa" was held in Nairobi in April, 1986. One of
the objectives of the workshop was to discuss a framework for
cooperative research in the area if intra-household resource
allocation in rural areas. Another was to develop and enrich
basic teacher's guides. The preparation of this guide is an
attempt to meet those objectives and the requests of others
concerned with strengthening training with a focus on rural
Several individuals contributed comments and suggestions
when the guidelines were outlined and after study of preliminary
versions; at FAO: M-J.Mermillod, R.J.Clark, M.Hall, H. Hoffmann,
M.W.Hoskins, N.A.L.Lexander, A.Spring and A. Stephens, and from
other institutions: R.Balakrishnan, A. Chandra, A. Chareonchai,
F.Egan, F. Firebaugh, N.Hahn, L.J.Harper, A.K.Kapande, S.Y.
Nickols, A-- uir,'A.Ten-ga" and--S. Washi. Aspecial thank you to
Participants at three workshops held in 1989, to evaluate
the 1988 version of the guidelines, need special recognition and
appreciation. That version was translated into Thai by a working
group in Thailand headed by Ms. Buppa Panthong, a home economist
with the Rajamangala Institute of Technology. The draft was then
S sent to ten home economists and two environmentalist/ecologists,
together with the English version, for comments. The Thai Home
Economics Association (THEA) under contract to FAO, organized the
distribution and a follow-up workshop which was held in Bangkok,
April 18-20, 1989.
Reviewers in Thailand who deserve special mention are:
P.Kaewchareon, A.Chareonchai, S.Sitalayan, B.Panthong,
K.Attawipakpaisarn, S. Muangkaeo, W.Pratoomsindh, D. Dhanakom,
N.Hangsaproex, P.Dulayapach, P.Ratanavibool, and P. Wajanapoom.
A very special thank you to P.Natpracha for translations during
the workshop and follow-up visits to three universities and
farming systems research teams in Thailand, and to the FAO
Regional Home Economics and Social Development Officer for Asia
and the Pacific, Ms. Alexandra Stephens.
Eleven resource persons in Malawi, met with their
coordinator, Dr. Richard Mkandawire from Bunda College of
Agriculture, periodically in 1989. Most of them used parts of the
provisional version of the guidelines in their teaching then
contributed review papers and evaluations during a workshop held
in Lilongwe, July 17-21. Thank you to R.Mkandawire, L.Chande-
Mwaisango, C.Chihana, J.L.Chimango, K.Kainja, E.C.Kanyinji,
S P.M.M.Mkandawire, B.M.Mtimuni, M.W.B.Munyenyembe, S.F.Namba,
M.A.M. Nambote, and D.D. Yiwombe. Appreciation is extended as
well to T.F. Trail from USAID, to Ms. M.Paris, FAO Associate
Programme Officer, to the FAO Country Representative, Mr. G.K.
Mburathi and to the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture for hosting
The University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB) hosted a
workshop.at the University, August 29-31, 1989 to bring together
32 participants from five other universities and interested
Ministries in Nigeria. Thank you to those participants, all of
whom had a special interest in initiating new approaches for the
development of agriculture and the rural sector. Special
appreciation is expressed to the Vice-Chancellor,
Prof.N.O.('Nimbe) Adedipe, and to the workshop coordinator and
Dean of the College of Agricultural Managment, Rural Development
and Consumer Studies, Prof. I.Adefolu Akinbode for their
leadership and contributions to the workshop and the review.
Thank you to Mrs. Bukola Oni, Regional Vice-President for the
Home Economics Association for Africa, for making the initial
arrangements, and to Dr. Protus Atang, FAO Representative in
Nigeria for his support.
The work could not '-have-been accomplished without the
overall coordination by Marie-Jane Mermillod, Sr. Home Economics
Officer, FAO Women in Agricultural Production and Rural
Development Service. Special gratitude to her and the FAO
Lila E. Engberg
TABLE OF CONTENTS
RURAL HOUSEHOLDS AND RESOURCE ALLOCATION FOR DEVELOPMENT
1. A New Agenda for Development
2. Target Group
3. Student Participation in Learning
4. Major Goals of the Guidelines
5. Proposed Use of the Guidelines
6. Use of a Process Approach
7. Format of the Training Manual
UNIT I ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO DEVELOPMENT 8
1.1 CHANGING PERSPECTIVES OF DEVELOPMENT 9
1.1.1 Development Thinking 9
Development at Micro and Macro Levels
Changes in Development Thinking and Policies
Changes in Approaches to Women in Development
1.1.2 Concepts and Goals of Development 12
Interpretation of Development
Meeting Quality of Life and Human Needs
1.1.3 Critical Development Issues 14
Population Growth and Demographic Changes
1.1.4 Resources Needed for Grass-Roots Development 17
Definition of Resources
Time as a Factor in Resource Use
Problems of Resource Allocation and Use
1.2 APPROACHES TO GROWTH AND HUMAN BETTERMENT 21
1.2.1 Working Towards Sustainable Development 21
Definition of Sustainable Development
Importance of Local Action
1.2.2 Focus on Rural Women and Households 22
Women in Rural Development
1.2.3 Farming Systems Approaches 23
Basic Elements of Farming Systems Approaches
Incorporating Intra-Household and Gender Issues
1.2.4 Focus on Livelihood 25
1.2.5 People Participation 26
Dimensions of Participation
Learning from People
Indigenous Knowledge and Technology Systems
1.3 USE OF AN ECOSYSTEMS FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS 29
1.3.1 The Ecosystem Perspective 29
Concept and Components of Ecosystems
The Human Ecosystem
Three Environmental Systems
1.3.2 Relationship of Micro and Macro Environments 31
The Micro Human Environment
The Macro Environments
The Sociocultural Dimension
1.3.3 Rural Households and Farms as Ecosystems 34
System Concepts Applied to Households
Open and Closed Systems
The Household Ecosystem Perspective
The Farm as an Ecological System
Integrating Farm and Household Systems
1.3.4 Interdependence of Systems and Subsystems:
A Highland New Guinea Example 39
The Case Study
1.4 TEACHING, LEARNING AND EVALUATION 43
1.4.1 Suggestions for Teaching and Learning 43
1.4.2 Evaluation of Understandingq
UNIT II ANALYSIS OF RURAL HOUSEHOLDS 'AND THEIR ECONOMY 48
2.1 RURAL HOUSEHOLDS AS CONTRIBUTORS TO DEVELOPMENT 49
2.1.1 Family or Household as Unit of Study and Action 49
Family Definition and Structure
Definition of Household
Functions of Families and Households
Changes in Household Structure and Function
A Case Study: Household Heads in Rural Kenya
2.1.2 Households as Health Providers and Educators 55
Contribution to Food Security and Nutrition
Contribution to Child Welfare and Family Health
2.1.3 Economic Contributions of Rural Households 56
Allocation of Household Labour to the Economy
Increasing Household Production
Reallocation of Financial Resources
Increasing the-Flow of Grants or Transfers
Efficient Use of Household Resources
2.2 THE HOUSEHOLD ECONOMY AND DEVELOPMENT 59
2.2.1 Economic Terminology Applied to Households 59
Goals of Households
2.2.2 The Concept of "Whole" Economy 60
The Formal Economy
The Informal Economy
The Household and Grants Economy
Collectives and Coopertaives
Interdependence of Formal, Informal and Household
A Case Study: Income Earning in a Bangladesh Village
2.2.3 Concepts of Household Production and Livelihood 66
Issues of Livelihood
The Study of Household Economy and Production
Types of Production and Livelihood Activities
2.2.4 Rural Households in the Context of the Ecosystem 69
The Household Ecosystem
Influences of Socio-Cultural and Behavioural Factors
Influences of Social Structure on Rural Households:
A Bolivian Example A
2.3 ANALYSIS OF GENDER AND RESOURCE ALLOCATION ISSUES 73
2.3.1 Gender Issues 73
The Concept of Gender
The Division of Labour
Cultural Influences on the Allocation of Labour
Access and Control of Resources
Changes in Means of Gaining Access and Control of
Case Study: Changes in Land Tenure in Kenya
2.3.2. Methods of Analysis of Rural Households 79
Case Study: Analysis of Time Allocation and
Activity Patterns in Cote d'Ivoire
Rapid Rural Appraisal
Use of Case Studies; Example from India
2.4 TEACHING, LEARNING AND EVALUATION 88
2.4.1 Suggestions for Teaching and Learning 88
2.4.2 Evaluation of Understanding 95
UNIT III HOUSEHOLD DECISION MAKING AND MANAGEMENT 96
3.1 PARTICIPATION IN DECISION MAKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING 97
3.1.1 The Decision Making Process 97
Steps in Decision Making
Types of Decisions and Decision Makers
3.1.2 Patterns of Household Decision Making 101
Individual and Household Decisions
Decision Making Power and Authority
Decisions in Rural Households:
Case Studies from Nepal
3.1.3 Participation in Practical Problem Solving 104
Characteristics of Practical Problems
Identification of Critical Everyday Life Problems
3.2 MANAGEMENT OF HOUSEHOLD RESOURCES'AND SITUATIONS 108
3.2.1 Management of the Household Ecoystem 109
Management as a Participatory Process
The Personal Subsystem of Households
The Managerial Subsystem and Its Components
3.2.2 The Household Management System 113
Feedback and Evaluation
Outputs of Management
Facilitating the Management Process
Principles in the Allocation and Use of Resources
Evaluating Management Practices
3.2.3 Application of The Management Process 124
Management of Livelihood: Application
to Household Situation in Nigeria
Case Study: The Role of Eco Processing and Trading
in the Ilorin Area, Nigeria
3.3 TEACHING, LEARNING AND EVALUATION 132
3.3.1 Suggestions for Teaching and Learning 132
3.3.2 Evaluation of Understanding 136
UNIT IV PARTICIPATION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF RESOURCES 137
4.1 DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES 138
4.1.1 Analysis of Needs, Resources and Competencies 138
Assessment of Needs and Resources
Analysis of Practical Household Problems
Analysis for Action
Use of Situation Analysis and
Critical Incident Techniques
Assessment of Competencies of Household Members
4.1.2 Planning and Implementing Programmes
for Development of Human Resources 146
Household Food Security and Applied
Human Nutrition Programmes
Programmes for Family Health and Well-Being
Non-formal Education and Literacy Programmes
4.2 DEVELOPMENT OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES 151
4.2.1 Analysis of Household Assets,
Income and Expenditures 151
Sources and Amounts of Household Income
Household Consumption and Expenditures
Access, Control and Distribution of Income
4.2.2 Analysis of Income Earning Potentials 154
Assessment of Income Earning Activities
Comparison of Income Generating Strategies
4.2.3 Strategies for Support of Income Generation
by Rural Women and Households 155
Policy and Infrastructural Support
Credit and Loan Systems
Training, Extension and Technical Assistance
Support Structures and Intersystem Linkages
4.3 DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY FOR RURAL HOUSEHOLDS 159
4.3.1 Analysis of Activities and Technologies Available 159
Analysis of Time and Energy Expenditure by Gender
Analysis of Technologies Available and The Impact
4.3.2 Development of Technology Systems 163
Technology for Income Generation: in Ghana
Technology for Domestic Activities: in India
Technology for Agriculture: Example from Zaire
4.4 TEACHING, LEARNING AND EVALUATION 170
4.4.1 Suggestions for Teaching and Learning 170
4.4.2 Evaluation of Understanding 172
CONCLUSION: APPLICATION TO PROGRAMME DEVELOPMENT 173
1. Institution Building to Support Rural Households
2. Reorientation of Research and Education
3. Promotion of People Pariticipation and Collaboration
GLOSSARY OF TERMS 179
1. A New Agenda for Development
A new agenda for development is emerging in the 1990's.
The South. Commission, whose members all come from developing
countries, have expressed deep concern for the state of chronic
poverty and underdevelopment experienced by many Third World
countries. They are asking for "sustainable, people-centred,
self-reliant development ... development which is socially just,
economically efficient and ecologically sound" (SID, 1988).
This manual is an attempt to make a contribution to that
agenda. It recognizes that the economies of most developing
countries in the world are highly dependent on agriculture based
on small-holder farms, that other primary activities such as
fishing, forestry and small-scale enterprises contribute to the
livelihood of millions of people. The way these enterprises
function and develop within the context of rural environments can
be a key to development.
The rural production system, based on the organized
efforts of households, is the focus of these guidelines. The
central role of women and households in managing the farm and
other small-scale enterprises, and in contributing to increased
productivity and human well-being, is not well recognized. The
challenge for educators and development practitioners is to
acknowledge the role of rural households and to use approaches
which involve rural people. For these reasons the ecoystems
perspective and problem solving, people-centred approaches are
A people-centred, "whole" systems approach to
development is relatively new. In the past, applied workers in
agriculture, nutrition, health, home economics, and other rural
development services used a prescriptive approach, that is an
approach which provided rural people with a "package of
information" and instructions about what the people should do.
Field workers did not have a full understanding of households,
their environment nor the nature of rural problems. Often
programmes were directed towards one problem at a time. Educated
extension workers "brought" research information and services
from the government system to the less well-educated rural
people, expecting them to change their food or farming practices
in favour of those recommended. They were discouraged by the
slow rate of adoption of new technologies by small-holder
In contrast, the ecological systems approach requires
increased understanding of rural households as functioning socio-
economics units within an ecosystem..t The use of "prescriptions"
) or "top-down" interventions are questioned. Instead, more
integrated, participatory approaches to working with rural people
in their own context, are recommended.
The systems approach requires that men, women and
children be considered members of household and family systems
within larger community and national systems. Men and women
operate within the context of the household system. In that
context, they develop strategies which help them contribute to
their own livelihood. But availability, access and control of
resources is a problem. Resource poor households may not have
the capacity to make use of recommendations brought to the rural
community by outside workers. Frequently they remain isolated
from the mainstream economy. They seek alternative solutions to
livelihood problems within their own environments.
Policy makers at national level and rural field workers
need to develop competencies which will help them: 1) expand
understanding of rural households, local environments and real
life problems; 2) identify the critical problems experienced by
rural people, and 3) involve the "whole" household in sustainable
d's*elf-*reliant ,deve1opmn .ent.
The systems perspective recognizes interdependence of
the micro systems of the household and the macro systems of the
nation, the interdependence of rural and urban households and of
men and women. It has guided the selection of content and of the
approach in each of the four units of study.
2. Target Group
The guidelines are meant to be of special help to
educators and policy makers responsible for decisions about
curriculum, course content and teaching approaches in rural and
community focused programmes. They can be used for pre-service
education at degree and diploma levels or for in-service training
of administrators, senior level extension or community field
workers concerned with service delivery to rural households.
Community health educators who provide training for primary
health care programmes may also find the guidelines useful.
The manual can be used as a teachers guide for a number
of courses. It is suggested that all four units be considered
for pre-service training of students preparing to work in
community based rural or agricultural development programmes.
Any one of the units could be adapted for in-service training or
short courses for educators, administrators or supervisors.
Adaptation and simplification of the material would be necessary
for training grass-roots level fields workers. That could be a
second stage in a training process using the material presented
in this manual.
Home economics educators may have a special interest in
the guidelines because of their traditional focus on households.
The guidelines can help them reorient their curricula, address
practical problems of rural women and households, and become more
effective members of multi-disciplinary teams.
3. Student Participation in Learning
"People-participation" in development is an orientation
promoted by non-formal educators. The idea gained wide acceptance
during the decade of the 1980's but implementation has been
difficult. Obstacles reported by workshop participants who
evaluated the first version of the guidelines are:
i) Students and rural people have generally experienced a
hierarchical environment. Teachers, government authorities and
village elders are considered to be the authorities, not to be
questioned. Management style is "top-down". According to
tradition, students in the classroom and village people in a
rural environment -accept authority--and comply. There are risks
involved in asking questions and taking initiatives.
ii) Group process and communication skills are not
incorporated into pre-service training programmes for rural field
workers. Many extension workers do not know how to use
participatory or problem solving approaches.
iii) The formal educational system is subject matter and
examination oriented. Educators do not s'et examinations which
test critical thinking and problem solving skills. Ordinary
people also place importance on knowledge of subject matter for
its own sake, and in passing external examinations.
iv) Curriculum models used for agriculture, engineering,
home economics, medicine, public health, nutrition, and other
applied fields, are based on science or empirically based
knowledge. A body of knowledge about technology, crops,
livestock, soil, nutrition, food, human development, medicine,
health and sanitation, and so on, is accumulated through the work
of research scientists in each subject matter area. Emphasis in
the educational system is on acquisition of more and more
specialized information and technical skills, not necessarily on
critical thinking and application of the knowledge.
The critical thinking model of education is a different
kind of model. It requires that students and teachers become
actively engaged in analyzing the subject matter and its
application. Learners are called op to define problems, search
for diverse sources of information, interact with those sources
and transform subject matter for a particular purpose. Creative,
S critical thinking is required of students in order to integrate
their own knowledge and experience with that of the research
scientists and the indigenous knowledge of village people.
Emphasis is on the learning process and on decision-making rather
than on subject matter content alone.
SThese guidelines attempt to take a process approach-
that is an approach which requires teachers and students to do
some searching, questioning and thinking about development
policies, rural people and approaches to development, and the
type. of subject matter which is essential for development at
The guidelines assume that government administrators and
educational leaders will encourage participation and problem
solving. Students require classroom experiences using
participatory and problem solving approaches in order to become
more familiar with the processes. They will then be better
prepared to use such methods when working with rural people.
4. Major Goals of the Guidelines --- -
The guidelines: "Rural Households and Resource
Allocation for Development" are designed to challenge educators
and development workers to participate in learning more about
problems and potentials of rural households and the strategies
which would enable rural people to allocate resources for
The guidelines should help the target group:
3.1 analyze issues related to the livelihood of rural women and
men, to human well-being, and to development practice,
3.2 use the ecosystems framework as a means of increasing under-
standing of the interdependence and interaction of humans and
environments within their own country,
3.3 become more aware of socio-economic changes and the
complexity of development problems which face rural households
throughout the family life-cycle,
3.4 appreciate that rural men and women together are capable of
restructuring their environments and moving towards greater self-
3.5 participate more effectively as teams, interacting with each
other in a learning environment, searching for information and
strategies which could contribute to sustainable development,
3.6 become more instrumental in changing policies and programmes
in support of sustainable, people-centred, self-reliant rural
It is anticipated too, that the users of the guidelines will be
able to evaluate the potential of the ecosystem framework for
education and training and their own needs with respect to
learning more about people-centred approaches to development.
5. Proposed Use of the Guidelines
Guidelines produced and distributed by FAO headquarters
must be based on concepts and principles which have universal
meaning and application. They cannot be country specific, nor
specific to all levels of education or clients. Potential users
are asked to review and adapt the guidelines, where necessary, to
suit the target audience and specific needs of groups to be
trained within their own countries.
A multi--discip-l-ibary -'te-anr -of --professiohals, adult
educators and administrators may wish to study the guidelines and
make recommendations for their use. Orientation workshops may be
needed for educators who are expected to implement any one or all
of the study units, also to encourage integration of concepts
. into existing courses.
It is suggested that many senior staff members in
Natural Resources Colleges, Colleges of Agriculture, Vocational
and Technical Institutes would find an orientation session
useful. The ecosystem perspective is used by several
disciplines. It is used in biology to emphasize the inter-
dependence of organisms in the natural environment, and in social
science to call attention to the fact that humans.relate to each
other and to all living and non-living things in a community.
The family ecosystem model is beginning to be used as a
conceptual framework for home economics. The model unites a
systems approach to the family with that of the ecological
perspective. The family ecosytem is a model which assumes humans
are a part of a family system embedded in interdependent social
and physical environments. The framework will be described more
fully in Unit I of this manual.
6. Use of a Process Approach
The style of presentation recommended for the units of
study in this manual is the process approach to learning. A
process approach is one which invbives the educators and the
S students in critical thinking about, questions and answers. It
assumes that professionals and authorities do not have all the
answers and that students, workshop participants and ordinary
people have experiences, knowledge and skills to contribute.
According to Ennis (1985:45) critical thinking involves
three types of skills:
1) ability to define and clarify such things as problems,
issues, conclusions, reasons and assumptions,
2) ability to judge the credibility, relevance and consistency
3) ability to solve problems and draw reasonable conclusions.
The process of "questioning" is important. Educators,
trainers and trainees can learn to question what they read and
what they see and hear. Learning to formulate and ask
appropriate questions is a skill to be learned. It requires
thinking about one's own experiences, about local situations and
local knowledge systems, alst-~ bout'th--cr'htent-of t-xtb-dok's-and-
Problem solving involves deciding what to do and
believe; continuously questioning, searching for information,
experimenting, evaluating and judging, and continuously making
decisions about alternatives.
Small group discussion in the classroom can help
teachers and students acquire information and ideas from each
other. Creative and critical thinking about problems and
alternative solutions are a part of the problem solving process.
1) Creative or imaginative thinking is needed in order to
develop a number of reasonable alternatives, and in thinking
about the consequences of each alternative. Unorganized bits of
information can be brought together in a usable form. Arguments
about values and standards favouring one choice or another can to
discussed. All ideas count!
2) Critical thinking involves the ability to assess and reflect
on the accuracy and reliability of the information, and the
acceptability of the criteria developed for evaluating the
information and the proposed actions. Effective judgements
cannot be made without factual information and criteria.
3) Decision-making requires high level thinking. Problem solvers
must choose the priority problems and goals, and the means of
reaching the goals and taking action. They make comparisons,
evaluate information and criteria, "then make a choice.
4) Cooperative interaction skills are needed in order to gain
more extensive knowledge from a number of sources. Students
interact with each other, with teachers and authorities who have
specialized knowledge and skill. Diverse sources of information
must be .accessible for successful problem solving. Teachers,
students, extension workers and rural people;- each have
something to contribute. Each person can ask questions, reason
with each other and search for answers in a cooperative way.
Students, teachers and trainers will gain problem
solving and critical thinking ability with practice. Then they
will be better prepared to work in a similar way in the field,
with rural people.
8. Format of the Training Manual
Four study units have been proposed in this training
manual, with objectives stated at the beginning of each unit. At
------ the end of each unit is a list of suggested 'teach"hg and learning
activities based on the objectives. These are only suggestions.
Teachers or trainers may wish to select only a few of the ideas
proposed and add others, based on the target audience and the
time available. The introduction and conclusion are also of
significance. A rationale for the ecosystem approach, for
"j participation and for critical thinking is explained at the
beginning. In the conclusion, the need for institution building
and strengthening heirarchical linkages is emphasized. Rural
households cannot easily become productive units and contribute
to over-all development until the service delivery systems and
linkages the macroenvironment are strengthened.
UNIT I ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO DEVELOPMENT
This unit of study is subdivided into three major topics
to be followed by a section on teaching, learning and evaluation.
The major goals are for participants to understand the concept of
development and how a human ecosystem perspective can be used as
a framework for analysis of household situations in rural areas.
The topics are as follows:
1) Changing Perspectives of Development,
2) Approaches to Growth and Human Betterment,
3) Use of an Ecosystems Framework for Analysis
4) Teaching, Learning and Evaluation
At the end of the unit students should be able to:
1.1 outline the major changes in development thinking and
the influences on rural households in their countries,
1.2-- recognize critical development problems which .require
policy and programme attention in order to meet both
national and local needs in the rural areas,
1.3 use the ecosystem framework to illustrate household
and environment interdependence and interchanges which
take place in selected rural environments,
1.4 compare farming systems approaches and identify gender
and intra-household dimensions being tried in their
1.5 identify and categorize the combination of resources
needed by two or more common types of low-income
rural households to meet their livelihood goals,
1.6 expand knowledge about of resource potentials and
constraints in macro environments and in selected
rural environments in their country,
1.7 participate in small discussion groups exchanging
opinions, ideas and information related to policies
and programmes for rural women and households and
resource allocation within differing environments,
1.8 develop a commitment towards improved development
practice on behalf of rural women and households.
1.1 CHANGING PERSPECTIVES OF DEVELOPMENT
This section describes briefly the changes in
development thinking and types of action which have been promoted
over the last three decades to foster socio-economic development.
The expectation is that the users of this guide will become
engaged 'in a dialogue about the changes and current thinking
about development, and that this will lead to changes in their
own thinking about what to do on behalf of rural women and
households. They are not expected to spend time on the details,
only to gain a general overview of policy changes at macro level
and how those changes have influenced the living conditions of
rural people in their own countries.
1.1.1 Development Thinking
Development at Micro and Macro Levels
Development can be defined as a process of progressive
change which leads to social and economic benefits for all
people, but there is_ always uncertainty about. how-change can be...
brought about. Development takes place at several levels: at
national, regional, district, community, household and individual
levels, but development planners are not always committed to the
lower levels or to rural households.
At micro level that is at community and household
levels, the goals are to establish processes of change which lead
to local benefits; the meeting of basic needs of individuals and
At macro level, a nations' development path is
established by government policies. Major goals are frequently
economic stability, growth and political survival.
Changes in Development Thinking and Policies
Prior to the 1970's the central objective of national level
development planners was to increase the Gross Domestic Product
(GDP). Governments and private organizations were interested in
economic growth not development. They thought that the driving
force for development was industrialization and modernization,
and the transfer of "modern" technology from Northern nations to
the South. It was assumed that the benefits from modern industry
would "trickle-down" to the rural areas and the poor.
During the 1970's and later, it was recognized that
theories of economic growth and modernization had failed to
produce the expected wealth. Studine-s showed that there had been
overall economic growth but with increased numbers of rural
and urban poor (Cornia, Jolly and Stewart, 1987). The rich were
getting richer and the poor, poorer.
New thinking about development led to the recognition
that the fault was with the basic structures of the social and
economic system, and with past development strategies. Among the
new approaches advocated was the basic needs and the anti-poverty
The Basic Needs approach advocated by the International
Labour Organization (ILO) was people-centered. The main
objective of the approach was to satisfy a populations essential
requirements within a targeted time period, the year 2000. Two
sets of requirements were of concern: (1) personal needs such as
food, shelter, clothing, and (2) public service needs such as
better health, sanitation, safe drinking water, education,
transport and cultural facilities (Lisk, 1983:47).
During the early 1980's anti-poverty approaches and a
focus on rural poverty became more popular. In the past, rural
.areas .bad been neglected...Farming had been vLewed as the sector.
which would provide labour and cheap food to support urban
development and feed the people in the towns. Small-scale
farming systems, community based enterprises and the productive
work of women started to receive more support from research and
World wide concern about rural poverty led to strategies
such as those proposed at the World Conference on Agrarian Reform
and Rural Development (WCARRD) held in 1979 (FAO, 1980).
Conference representatives developed guiding principles for
Member Countries and how to implement the changes.
WCARRD recommended several national programmes of action
to be implemented as an integrated set of programmes. They were:
(a) access to land, water and other natural resources, (b)
people's organization, (c) integration of women in rural
development, (d) access to inputs, markets and services, (e)
development of non-farm rural activities, and (f) education,
training and extension (FAO, 1980). The Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and other multinational orginzations used
these and similar policies to guide their programmes.
At that time, however, the world experienced a major
decline in economic performance (Cornia et al, 1987:11). A
recession in 1981-83 effected both industrialized and developing
countries, but the impact on developing countries was much more
severe. As a result, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capital
for each of the four major developing regions (Africa, Latin
America, West Asia, and South and East Asia) declined. Also,
Third World debt problems became severe constraints. About 70
countries introduced programmes of stabilization or adjustment; a
number of them with World Bank Structural Adjustment loans and
following International Monetary Fund (IMF) stabilization
Adjustment is considered necessary, but the problem is
how, when and for what purpose, and who loses and benefits.
According to reports from many "adjusting" countries, the number
of people in poverty has increased (Cornia, Jolly and Stewart,
1987:67). A large proportion of people have experienced
significant declines in health, education and nutritional status.
UNICEF is among the agencies that have recommended alternative
adjustment approaches which protect the human condition while
restoring economic growth (Cornia, Jolly and Stewart, 1987).
Changes in thinking about policies for women in development
are also leading to programme alternatives which attempt to link
micro and macro systems.
Changes in Policy Approaches to Women in Development
During the Un Decade for Women (1975-1985) the two main
goals of Women in Development (WID) policies were: a) to increase
the welfare of women; and b) to harness unutilized labour power
and human resources for national development. Essentially three
types of strategies evolved, each with assumptions about women
and the development process (Young, 1987; Moser, 1989).
The welfare approach focused on women's child rearing and
household responsibilities and home-based income generating
opportunities to upgrade a woman's abilities to look after the
well-being of her family. The focus was at micro level.
The equity approach focused on enhancing the productivity of
female labour and direct participation of women in the market.
Education and vocational training programs to provide women with
marketable skills which enable women to compete with men in the
job market became major trends. The approach included providing
increased opportunity for women's political representation.
The anti-poverty approach placed emphasis on increasing the
income of women in the poorest households, or on women as
beneficiaries and secondary earners of cash income in the
household. This was also a micro level approach which led to a
separation of the rich and the poor; and a focus on "we" versus
The welfare approach has been popular in most countries,
not only for women but for the rural poor. All approaches,
however, tend to concentrate on womeh (or the poor)
in isolation, and on their condition or their practical needs
rather than their position or strategic needs in the total
system. Home economics programmes have traditionally used a
practical needs approach to women in the home; agriculture
programmes have addressed practical needs of men and women
farmers. The programme approaches have tended to retain the
status quo with respect to women's work and relationships to men,
and poor people's relationship to the rich 'in a hierarchical
system. In isolated situations "tradition" and "culture" have
been used as excuses for non-intervention.
The participatory approach is a relatively recent
approach. A policy of participation and empowerment could
address both the condition and the position of women and of
deprived groups of people. An analysis of the condition or the
situation (eg. poverty level, lack of education, work load,
nutritional status) leads to development strategies which are
basically welfare or poverty oriented. An analysis of both
"condition" and "position" of women and rural households requires
a different set of questions and action strategies which reach
beyond households and local communities.
The kinds of questions to ask are:. "What is the
position of young women relative to others in their household or
in their local and larger environment, in terms of access and
control of resources, and access to benefits?" or "Why should a
certain class of women carry the water and the firewood?" or
"What are the alternative options which will lead to greater
benefits for poor women?" The same types of questions could be
asked about a particular sub-group or class of people. Such
questions aim to find out some of the underlying causes of
deprivation within a whole system.
The Decade goal (1975-1985) was "integration of women in
development". This goal assumed efforts should be made to
include women in mainstream economic activities. The new
alternative is to question the "mainstream" economy and its
structures and the political nature of development processes
(Antrobus, 1989). Transformation of the structures which make
local development efforts difficult are being explored.
1.1.2 Concepts and Goals of Development
Interpretation of Development
Development thinking was discussed in Section 1.1.1, but in
this section an attempt is made to clarify what is meant by the
term "development", and how the concept can be used.
Development can be defined as a process of progressive change
from the simple to the more complex;- with increasing capacity-to
function effectively in all the interdependent sectors of a
"whole" system the social, economic, political, cultural,
technological sectors, operating together. National development
does not imply economic development in isolation from social and
cultural development, but it implies moving goods and services
production away from "family-based" to "macro-based" operations.
Community development may also be understood as progressive
change in all sectors, but at a more micro level. Economic
development, agricultural development, social development takes
place at community and village levels as well as at regional and
national levels. Macro and micro systems are interdependent and
contribute to each others functioning.
Family and/or household development is a process which enable the
"whole" family or household unit to progress to a higher level of
living or quality of life. All parts of the micro-system and all
members are interdependent. Together they obtain and allocate
resources from "outside" and "inside" their small socio-economic
system and they contribute resources to the growth and
development of the larger community. .Family well-being is
associated with the capacity 'of the whole family to adapt and
develop as a system. The household may be a smaller or larger
residential unit and will be defined in Unit II.
Human development can also be viewed in a holist way; The
physical, intellectual, emotional and social components of the
individual person function, grow and develop together or as a
"whole". The result is a healthy person with a capacity to
participate at home and in the local and national economy.
The ultimate goal of development activities at every
systems level is human growth and well-being. Sustainable,
people-centred, self-reliant development can be fostered through
more well-founded, practical strategies that pay attention to
human needs and equitable allocation of resources. Rural women's
prospects for development are more likely through the use of
"bottom-up" strategies which involve them (Nickols, 1985).
Meeting Quality of Life and Human Needs
Quality of life is a concept commonly used to measure
the state of well being in the whole nation. Indicators include
measures of physical and social well-being such as:
level of health,
family size, composition and relationships,
housing and environmental conditions,
accumulation of household durables,
income and consumption levels,,
quality of goods and services.,consumed,
level of literacy or education,
amount of leisure time, and
Individual feelings of satisfaction with respect to
material surroundings and life in general.
The concept of basic human needs is applied to individuals. Each
person has a set of basic needs which must be fulfilled at some
level in-order to survive. Households are the primary units
responsible for meeting these needs. Three sets of needs are
i) Existence needs include need for material and physiological
resources to satisfy hunger, thirst, shelter, protection,
comfort, sexual gratification, procreation, technology, cash
income, and satisfactory working conditions.
ii) Relatedness needs are those which are satisfied through
interaction with other persons; with household and family
members, neighbours, co-workers, friends, others on whom one
depends for mutual sharing and concern.
.iii) Growth needs for humans are those which allow.each person to_
move -towards higher levels 'of functioning, creativity and
productivity throughout life. Such needs include needs for
participation, learning, leisure and recreation.
The interpretation of development in this manual is one -
which assumes the satisfaction of all human needs is a
fundamental goal of development practice. The development issues
described in the next section are chosen because of their impact
on human well-being.
1.1.3 Critical Development Issues
Four development issues will be outlined briefly
because of their impact on women, children and rural households
and the possible role of rural households in contributing to
change for the better. The issues are interdependent. Each
contributes to the whole problem of development..
Absolute poverty has been defined as a situation where
basic human needs are scarcely met at minimum levels required for
survival (FAO, 1986a). The incidence can be measured by the extent
of malnutrition, life expectancy and illiteracy. See Table 1.1
for comparisons (FAO, 1980:43).
Table 1. UNDERNUTRITION, LIFE EXPECTANCY AND ILLITERACY BY REGION
Undernourished expectancy age 15 and above
Percent At birth Percent
Region ounries Millions of total simple av. MiLLions of population
countries population years 15 & above
Africa 37 72 19.6 49.3 130 64.7
Latin America 24 41 11.3 65.2 44 20.5
Near East 14 19 8.9 55.7 66 53.9
Asia & Far East a) 15 303 23.1 56.0 370 48.3
90 countries 90 436 19.3 55.7 610 43.9
Source: FAO, World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural
Development, Agricultural Education and Extension Service,
Follow-Up Staff Seminar, Programme and Reading Materials.
1980: Table 1, p. 43.
In terms of numbers, undernourishment has been most
prelevant in Asia and the Far East, but at the time of the
survey, the number of countries with serious undernutrition
problems was somewhat higher in Africa than in the Far East. In
the 1980's, "... deterioration in child welfare has occurred in
at least 8 countries in Latin America, 16 in Sub-Sahara Africa, 3
in North Africa and the Middle East and 4 in South and East
Asia." (Cornia et al, 1987:34). Malnutrition has been on the
increase in almost every country.
Of all the poor in the world, the numbers of poor and
the severity of poverty are greater in the rural areas.
Population Growth and Demographic Changes
The rapid rates of population growth are reported to
have undercut advances made in the economic sector in many
countries (PRB, 1988). A demographic change of particular concern
is the age distribution and the growing numbers of dependents. In
less developed countries about 37 percent of their total
population is below age 15. Other population issues which have
an impact both at micro and macro levels are:
rate of growth (3.0 to 4.0 percent per annum),
population density/ reduced size of farms,
S. migration patterns/ able bodied men leave farming,
female headed households/ isolated elderly,
rapid rates of urbanization/ growth of slums,
numbers to be educated and provided with health services,
jobs, food and housing,
adolescent pregnancies, high average fertility rates,
poor health, education and job opportunities for women,
burden on the natural environment,
future levels of poverty and deprivation expected.
Food security means that every individual has a
sustainable food supply of adequate quantity and quality, so that
nutrient requirements are satisfied and a healthy active life can
be maintained. In many countries food production has not kept
pace with population growth. In Africa, for example, food
production per capital has fallen at an average annual rate of one
percent or more over a period of 16 years (Mureithi, 1987). The
surplus food produced in some countries is frequently exported
for foreign exchange. The. food problems is complex..
Food is an exchange commodity. Households may prefer to
sell food crops immediately after harvest because of needs for
cash. Poor people do not have the money to purchase the food
when their seasonal supplies runs out.
Food satisfies hunger but it also satisfies the need for
status and social relationships. Food is given away and is
served freely at important social and religious events regardless
of the supply available for daily household consumption.
Food issues of concern at macro and mirco levels are:
shortages due to poor crop yields or disasters,
high cost of food imports,
destruction of indigenous food sources,
less food produced because of focus on export crops,
post harvest losses/inappropriate storage and preservation
seasonal shortages because of farming, marketing and
seasonal starvation and hunger among vulnerable groups,
declining health and nutritional status,
high infant mortality,
role of women, households and small-scale farmers in food
food distribution patterns inside households,
inadequate documentation of locally based problems.
World wide concern about deterioration of the natural
environment has been growing. Some of the economic adjustment
policies have contributed to environmental problems. The report
of the World Commission on Environment and Development
(WCED,1987) states that it is impossible to separate economic
development issues from environment issues.
Problems of global concern are:
forest destruction/illegal logging of virgin forests,
loss of genetic resources (indigenous plants & animals),
soil erosian and degradation,
siltation and pollution of rivers and lakes,
over-killing and poaching of wild life,
loss of grazing lands, and of permanent wetlands,
use of toxic chemicals and pesticides/ contamination of
.waste disposal;.-and-:utili-ati-oni-/-'waste dumps,
deterioration of the biosphere.
"The environment is where we all live, and development is what
we all do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode"
Every country in the world is experiencing some of the
-same problems, and every one is responsible for adjustments in
resource allocation which lead to human betterment for people in
1.1.4. Resources Needed for Grass-Roots Development
The term resources is used in several contexts. Nations,
regions, communities, business and industry, farmers, households,
individuals all have need of resources to accomplish goals. We
hear about the government's need for more resources, and about
conservation of natural resources, but resources needed to meet
the goals of the national system are not always recognized by the
household system and vice versa. The major goal of this section
is to identify categories of resources needed by rural households
in order to support their "grass-roots" development efforts.
Definition of Resources
Resources can be defined as the means to satisfy a system's
demands. Some are tangible, some intangible. A tangible resource
is concrete and visible (eg. land); An intangible resource is not
-visible (eg. the motivation or interests of an individual). Some
Resource fit somewhere in between (eg. time, energy and money).
SAll are essential and are used in combination to increase human
productivity. Three categories of resources referred to in this
manual are: human, material and environmental resources. The
types of resources which belong to each category are listed.
Human resources are needed to provide productive labour.
Labour is essential to development at every level. Households are
the source of all human resources and the source of labour within
the nation. Human resource development begins and continues at
home, through daily care and nurturing .of each persons throughout
the life span, from birth to death. The components of human
resources to be considered are:
Cognitive or thinking skills: (knowing, understanding,
application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation); and creativity in
.Psychomotor (manipulative or motor) skills: ability to use one's
hands and body to perform specific tasks (eg. carpentry,
mechanics, farming, food processing, cooking, etc.)
Affective (feeling or emotional) skills: developing value
orientations, interests, attitudes and capacities to express
Skills in interpersonal relationships: capacity to interact and
negotiate with others in the family or in group situations.
Physical strength, human energy and endurance based on health and
Able bodied workers with the combination of attributes,
listed above, are valuable resources to be produced and sustained
by households and the nation. Children may be a constraint at
one stage and a resource at another stage of their development
when they become helpers and independent workers.
Material resources are concrete and tangible. They may
be owned by an individual, by the whole household or they may be
available through some other arrangement rented, on loan, or in
trust, shared cooperatively, etc. They include:
Money and financial assets,
Livestock and agricultural assets: cattle, sheep, goats,
poultry, farm tools and equipment, stock of farm supplies, etc.
Space and facilities: housing, buildings, outdoor spaces,
household water supply, fences, etc.
Processed or semi-processed goods: food, clothing, household
furnishings, tools, equipment, building materials, fuel, etc.
Means of communication: publications, radio, telephone.
Means of transport and hauling.
The larger the stock of available and appropriate materials at
household and community levels, the greater the opportunity for
development. Availability, access and control are the issues-
not individual ownership.
Environmental systems will be described in Section 1.3.
These systems are outside the micro system of the household but
have resources with use value to rural households:
Resources in the Physical Enviroment
i) Natural materials (tangible): soil, minerals, water,
forests, plants, insects, fish, animals, birds, rainfall,
ii) Natural (intangible): air, sunshine, wind, temperature,
iii) Human-built facilities: community water supply, laundry
places, market place, roads, clinics, schools,
community halls, places of worship and recreation,etc.
Resources in the Socio-Institutional Environment
i) Social organizations: extended family, friends, community
groups, voluntary agencies, village committees,etc.
ii) Economic institutions: markets; credit, savings and loan
associations; banks, shops, wholesale and retail outlets,
places of employment, etc.
iii) Government organizations: postal agencies, health services,
educational services, agricultural services, law, police,
District councils and other government officers, etc.
iv) Political organizations: traditional and party.
v) Religious organizations: traditional and evolving types.
Time as a Factor in Resource Use
Time is neither human nor material but all activities
are time bound and regulated by social norms. Time is a critical
factor in the use and management of resources. It cannot be
accumulated or increased but the way it is used can be altered
and organized. Time has economic value. It can be allocated for
one use or another inside and outside the household. Household
income can be increased by reducing the time required by women
for household and community work and increasing the time spent on
market production. The monitary value of work time can be
calculated in order 'to arrive at more reliable estimate of
Problems of Resource Allocation and Use
There are two types of resource allocation problems to be
addressed in this manual. One is intra-household resource
allocation; the other is allocation of resources by macro and
middle level institutions designed to support women and rural
The major problem at each level, especially for the
rural poor, is to gain access and control of needed resources and
of benefits. Macro level policies for resource allocation will
be examined in later sections.
A problem at micro level, that is at individual and
household levels is the recognition of resources and their
potential for meeting needs. An item or a human characteristic
can be called a resource only if its use is recognized for
reaching a goal or satisfying a need. Ability to set priority
goals and identify potential resources for reaching the goals are
cognitive or thinking skills. Technical ability or skill in
manipulating the material resources with the use of hands and
tools requires another type of human ability, used in combination
with intellectual ability.. Decisions about who should gain
access and control of which resources are judgement questions
based on knowledge, cultural values, and systems of support
1.2 APPROACHES TO GROWTH AND HUMAN BETTERMENT
In section 1.1 we examined changes in thinking about
development and the problems which have emerged in the 1980's
during periods of adjustment. Alternative programme approaches
such as the five described in this section are now underway in
many countries. They have important implications for programmes
which focus on rural women and households and the use of an
ecosystem framework for analysis and action.
1.2.1 Working Towards Sustainable Development
Among the concerns of the development community are the
types of reforms which lead to collective survival that is
survival of humans plus the environment. The World Commission on
Environment and Development known as the Bruntland Commission has
challenged the countries of the world to co-operate in working
for sustainable development (WCED, 1987).
The ultimate goal of sustainable development is the
satisfaction of human needs for food, clothing, shelter, jobs;
and of people's aspirations for an improved quality of life
(WCED, 1987:43). Sustainable development means meeting the basic
needs of all people for a better life. If taken seriously it has
") major implications, because some nations and some sectors are
using much more than their share of the world's scarce resources.
Definition of Sustainable Development
According to the WCED report:-
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs
of the present without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it
two key concepts:- the concept of "needs", in particular
the essential needs of the world's poor, and the idea of
limitations imposed by the state of technology and social
organization and the environment's ability to meet present
and future needs. (p.43)
Sustainable development means adopting policies and strategies
that will gradually reduce the likelihood that valuable resources
will disappear. It applies to knowledge systems and beliefs, as
well as environmental systems and organizational systems
(Norgaard, 1988). The argument is that agriculture and industries
based on the use of hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals are
unsustainable because of their --"limited availability and
ecological damage. Some types of,.political and bureaucratic
Systems are unsustainable because they do not allow cultural
diversity and access to resources. They lead to conflict and
war, not to co-existence and peaceful uses of limited resources.
Transformation of a total international system may not
come about for a very long time, but some changes are urgent in
order that local communities and poor.people gain access and
control of .a larger share of the world's resources, and a share
of the benefits.
Importance of Taking Local Action
Norgaard (1988) proposes that the place to begin
sustainable development activities is at local level. He
suggests asking a number of questions at a regional level. Can
the region's agricultural and industrial practices continue
indefinitely? Will the practices destroy the local resource base
and the environment, the local people and their cultural system?
Are they dependent upon renewable resources from beyond their
region, that are not managed well? Are people building their own
knowledge and institutional base and contributing to other
regions? Izs-the re-giorr's development---path~-mutually compatible
with that of other regions, or will they destroy each other?
These questions have relevence for those who are exploring the
use of the ecological systems perspective within rural
1.2.2 Focus on Rural Women and Households
Women in Rural Development
Leaders at a number of world wide conferences including
the country representatives who took part in WCARRD recommended a
set of principles for the integration of women in rural
development (FAO, 1980:118). WCARRD was a major turning point in
the recognition of women's economic role and contribution to
agriculture. Government representatives stated:
Rural development based on growth with equity will require
full integration of women, including equitable access to
land, water, and other natural resources, inputs and
services, and equal opportunities to develop and employ
In reality, women have been "integrated" into the
agricultural economy for centuries. Data available from selected
countries show a large proportion of the agricultural labour
force to be made up of women (FAO, 1985). The current concern,
then, is.not about integration of wgmen, but participation of
women at all levels of action "inside" and "outside" the
Women do not act in isolation. Although some women are
heads of households, they are linked with other household members
in family, and village systems. Their experiences within the
household context vary by class, ethnic group, culture, religion
and community. The composition and organization of household
system do not remain static. Adjustments are made, survival
strategies are implemented, just as at macro level.
Households are the smallest of social organizations, the
micro systems, within a larger heirarchy of social systems within
each nation. They are part of a total ecosystem. Economic
decisions made at macro level have profound impacts on rural
households, women and environments. Actions at local level also
have impacts on the macro system. Such ecosystem relationships
will be examined in Section 1.3.
1.2.3 Farming Systems Approaches
Farming systems approaches were developed in response to
the concern for improving the productivity of small-holder farms
in developing countries. Most farms in the world are small
scale, dependent on family labour and limited resources. Most
are responsible for subsistence production as well as production
for the market. Longhurst (1987).makes a strong case for policy
approaches towards small farmers. He states that small farmers
are active entrepreneurs who provide both social and economic
benefits (p. 185). Agricultural research and extension
activities in the past generally focused on developing
technologies for the "progressive" commercial farmers who could
afford inputs such as high yielding seed varieties, fertilizers,
pesticides, irrigation, mechanized equipment, and who could risk
new management practices. The popular extension approach in the
1960's and 1970's was to deliver or extend scientific knowledge
Changes in extension approaches were developed in the
1970's because it was recognized that the majority of farmers
were not able to adopt the proposed technologies. Farmers in
marginal and resource-poor environments remained poor and on the
margin in need of a broader system of support such as the
farming systems approach.
Basic Elements of Farming Systems Approaches
Today there is a diversity of-larming systems approaches
(Garrett, 1983). All approaches are meant to be comprehensive,_
taking into account the whole farm the total system of crop and
animal production, processing and marketing, both for subsistence
and for sale, and to include part-time off farm employment. The
intention too, is that farmers become more fully involved in on-
farm experiments and in extension. Six stages in the process,
recommended and used by one of the International Agricultural
Research Centres CIMMYT (Collinson, 1982), are as follows:
(1) survey diagnosis on the farm,
(2) identification and evaluation of improved agronomic practices
and farming methods that offer potential for problem solution,
(3) on farm experiments,
(4) identification of unsolved technical problems of farmers
which need research attention,
(5) station based commodity and disciplinary research,
(6) body of knowledge developed.
Stages 'I- and 3, carlled out on farms, are 'called adaptive
research stages. The body of knowledge developed at stage 6 is
considered appropriate, not only for the set of farmers involved,
but for the Region.
The methodology of the Farming Systems Research and
Extension Approach (FSR/E) is more comprehensive than the above.
It includes the stages: diagnosis, planning and design of
technology, experimentation and evaluation, and dissemination.
Emphasis is on problem-solving and farmer involvement at every
stage, including the diagnosis, the technology innovation process
(TIP), evaluation and dissemination stages (FSSP, 1985). One
noted difference in approaches is that of "technology push"
versus "farmer needs" (Conway and Barbier, 1987). Many
governments tend to promote production of those commodities
selected for export.
The Farm Management and Production Economic Service of
the Food and Agriculture Organization have developed new concepts
and methods which they call "Farming Systems Development"
(FAO,1989). The programmes main objective is: "the improvement of
farm-household systems and rural communities on a sustainable
basis". More emphasis is placed on interrelations of farm-
households and communities with their physical, socio-cultural
and institutional/political environments, as a basis for planning
and implementing development interventions.
Sands (1986:2) argues that "The most important feature
of small-farm agriculture is that the farming system is embedded
within the economy of the household...' and that "The household
uses an integrated system of productio-..activities."
Incorporating Intra-Household and Gender Issues
In using farming systems approaches one of the issues to
be taken into account is gender difference in the target or
client population. Assumptions in the past were that farmers were
male. Diagnosis of the situation, with particular reference to
small-holder farms and low income groups has shown that many
farmers are female. Women's roles in agriculture have been
documented in several countries (Buvinic, Lycette and McGreevey,
1983; Safilios-Rothschild, 1985).
A number of farming systems programmes address either
male or female farmers, directing interventions to one sex or the
other. The comprehensive needs of rural women or of household
systems are not addressed. The consensus reached by an expert
consultation on women in food production sponsored by FAO, was
that rural household's allocation of labour and other resources
must be understood in a wider context (FAO, 1984). The need to
understand Africa's rural households and farming systems is
-. considered especially urgent- z(Moock -1986). The argument is that.-- .
many approaches do not recognize intra-household dynamics and how
families organize their labour and decision-making. Poats,
Schmink and Spring (1988) and Norem (1988) address this concern
and the need to include gender and an intra-household focus.
1.2.4 Focus on Livelihood
Rural people's sources of livelihood are diverse.
Farming may be the major source of cash income in a number of
environments, but those who are concerned about the alleviation
of poverty are concerned about diverse livelihood activities. The
concept livelihood systems is introduced in order to describe the
comprehensive nature of women's needs and participation in the
economy (Grown and Sedstad, 1989). In addition to commercial
agriculture, livelihood activities of women include household and
community work, subsistence production, home-based income
generating activities, small-scale business enterprises, market
trade and wage employment.
The combination of livelihood options available to
rural households have become limited because of increasing
economic stress. The landless and land poor (men and women) are
particularly disadvantaged. Thus, increasing numbers of rural
people are searching for income-earning opportunities. The
concept of "whole" economy will be expJ-ored in Unit II.
Options for economic growth in the rural areas could
be expanded through support of small-scale enterprise development
within the local economy. External and internal constraints to
such development in Malawi have been described by Ettema (1985).
External constraints are the purchasing power of the rural
population, the consumption patterns, the influence and control
of large-scale enterprises and the nature of infrastructure and
government policy. The internal constraints are the technical
skills, managerial capacities, availability of capital, and
appropriate choice and location of enterprises. Entrepreneurship
of market women in West Africa, for example, is well known but
macro-level support for such activities is not always available.
1.2.5 People Participation
People's participation in development was strongly
recommended: by WCARRD (FAO, 1980). But there are several
dimensions of participation that need to be understood. Project
planners assume people will participate in the benefits and the
distribution of benefits. They may also be concerned about
people's participation in the implementation of projects planned
by somebody else. Others are concerned about various levels of
participation in decision-making. New policies for women in
development mentioned in a previous section, identified similar
concerns: how to expand opportunities for participation.
Dimensions of Participation
A focus on farmer participation related to farming
systems research and development alone may be too narrow. The
WCARRD training manual (FAO,1980) suggests four dimensions of
participation be taken into account:
(1) What kinds of participation are occurring? (decision-making,
planning, implementing, evaluation)
(2) Who should and who is participating in what?
How many of what types of persons are involved in what activities
(administrators, field workers, community leaders, politicians,
large farmers, small farmers, landless, poor, low or middle-
income, men, women, eldery, young, etc.)?
(3) How does participation take place?
Is it: voluntary or compulsory?
self-initiated or imposed?
continuous or intermittent?
organized, individual or group. participation?
direct or indirect?
broad or narrow in scope?
(4) Do people participate in evaluation? Evaluation may involve
initial decisions: What should be done, if anything? How will it
be done, and by whom? Where will the activity take place, within
what time frame? Later, they will ask: How well is the activity
progressing? Who is benefiting and who is losing? Should the
activity continue or be revised?
Learning to participate is not easy. There are many
different kinds of participation. Also there is a cycle of
actions. Not every person can or needs to participate at each
stage or at each level. Rural people have divergent interests
and capabilities. Some may reach beyond the household and local
community and some may increase theri levels of participation
within the micro systems where they live.
Learning from the People
Another dimension of participation is that of learning.
Robert Chambers (1983) is an advocate of learning directly from
rural people. He states that professionals need to understand the
knowledge systems of rural people and elicit technical knowledge
from them (p.201). That is a reversal in learning. It requires
) sitting patiently, asking questions and listening, and
recognizing the value of indigenous knowledge and technology.
-Field workers and teachers need to learn how to participate and
Indigenous Knowledge and Technology Systems
Knowledge generation by rural people takes place
through experiments which have implications for locally based
development (Howes and Chambers, 1979). It may be a scientific
but a slower process of discovery than that of the modern
government and privately supported research systems.
This type of local knowledge, called indigenous
knowledge, includes knowledge of: social and economic structures,
and of micro-environmental conditions; systems of classification
and use of objects and materials, culture related taxonomies
(names given to plsnts and animals), making of artifacts, systems
of measuring quantities, and an accumulated wisdom about what is
workable in the local environment.
Interest groups may possess certain types of knowledge
and may not be willing to share it--t eg. knowledge of medicinal
plants or of food sources in the wild, technology related to use
Sof tree crops). Recognition of the value of such knowledge and
Technical systems is essential to ecologically sustainable
development in rural areas; and essential to building a more
reliable research base for future work.
Problem solving approaches require participation in
order to integrate the knowledge generated in research
institutions with indigenous knowledge generated by ordinary
people. The problem solving approach will be addressed more
fully in Unit III but can be practiced in the classroom as
students progress through Unit I and each Unit.
1.3 USE OF AN ECOSYSTEMS FRAMEWORK FOR ANALYSIS
The concepts of development examined in Sections 1.1 and
1.2 helped us recognize the need for a "whole systems" and a
sustainable development perspective, thus the introduction of the
ecosystems framework. A comprehensive understanding of
household-environment interactions can be gained by using an
ecological or ecosystems approach. The framework can serve as a
guide for analyzing the reciprocal affects of the actions of
household members and environments. The goal, in this case, goes
beyond increasing productivity to improving mutually sustaining
relationships with environments. Humans can learn to become
stewards of the earth's resources, not just manipulators who
exploit resources for economic gain.
1.3.1 The Ecosystem Perspective
Concepts and Components of Ecosystems
The ecosystem is made up of living organisms in
interaction within an environment. The term ecosystem emphasizes
energy exchanges and the cycling of nutrients. The ultimate
source of energy is the sun. Much of the solar energy reaching
the earth is used by plants for their respiration. The
accumulation of plant growth or biomass is the energy source for
all other living organisms on the earth (including humans)
obtained via food chains. A food chain is a complex circular web
intertwined with a waste chain. The stable mature ecosystem is
composed of a rich diversity of species with energy transactions
passing through many steps (Odum, 1972; Melson, 1980).
As we know, there is species diversity (plants, animals,
insects, reptiles, aquatic life, fungicides, forests, humans,
etc.), and different renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy
throughout the world, but many nonrenewable sources are being
depleted. Fossil fuels (petrol and petroleum products, and coal)
have been major nonrenewable sources of energy for
industrialization. Societies compete with one another for these
energy sources and for the forests for economic survival.
The Human Ecosystem
Humans are members of the universe. They live in a
relationship with each other and with all living and nonliving
things in community environments. They too, are dependent on
solar energy and other forms of energy for their survival. See
the conceptual diagram of the ecosystem (Figure 1.1) and the
place of the rule-makers who help shaoe the environments and the
allocation of resources. Basic questions are: how can people
Adjust to the resources and other physical conditions of the
Habitat? How can they sustain environments?
Components of the Ecosystem
Production and Agricultural /Household
.Consumption-.. ... -S.ector ., ---Sector.
Energy: Sector /
solar, / Materials:
Source: "Family Decision Maki39g: An Ecosystem Approach", by B.
Paolucci, O.A.Hall and N. Axinn, Figure 7, p.28. By permission 'f
John Wiley and Sons, New York. 1977.
Three Environmental Systems
Three interdependent environmental systems were
identified in the diagram (based on the work of Koenig): the
natural system, the human built technological system, and the
social regulatory system, or socio-institutional system.
The natural environmental system is comprised of the natural
structure of the landscape and the living and non-living
components, without the humans. It includes the air, water,
plant, animal, and insect life, and other organisms, the soil,
minerals, fossil fuels, and so on.
The human-built technological system is made up of the
agricultural, industrial, and household systems and the tools and
materials developed by human organizations who transform energy
and natural resources. Humans construct buildings, machines,
roads, produce food, clothing and consumer goods.
The socio-institutional systems -are the structures created by
organized groups of people who develop policies and programmes
and control the use of natural and technological resources dor
specific purposes. They establish the rules and regulations, the
political, educational, religious, economic, and family
The environmental systems are interlinked and driven by flows of
energy. The natural environment is the support system for all of
life. It has a remarkable capacity to recycle wastes and release
them as nourishment in another part of the environment. But
humans can be destructive. They are also producing more and more
wastes. The lakes, streams, and watersheds have limited
capacities to maintain "balance". Today we are witnessing many
imbalances in the global and the local ecological systems, due to
policy decision, industrial and consumer activities.
1.3.2 Relationships of Micro and Macro Environments
The Micro Environment
Humans live in a household or family context. The
immediate physical and social surroundings of a household
comprise its micro environment or spatial territory. This
environment includes (1) the natural and biological systems the
humans, plants, animals, other organisms, climate, landscape in
the place where they live. It includes (2) the material
technologies the tools, houses, farm and household equipment,
Clothing, food, crafts and other goods which are available in
That setting; and (3) it includes the organized social system of
family members and others who are responsible and interact to
promote the goals of that micro system (Deacon and Firebaugh,
The physical habitat and the socio-institutional system
have time and space dimensions. The composition of the micro
environment changes over time. Family members and-neighbours come
and go; some die and others are born during the course of one
family's life-cycle. The crops and animals produced in the
farming systems also change. Farms are sub-systems of the micro
environment of rural people.
People live in communities. Farm and non-farm households
in rural areas are linked and interdependent in a local
neighborhood or village. Each family, each household and village
system and geographical area has different characteristics. All
the characteristics of the micro environments (the natural,
physical, technological and the social) need to be taken into
account when planning and implementing development programmes.
The environment of a system is. "outside",, .and not an
integral part of the system itself. The dwelling house and
immediate physical surroundings are a part of the micro-
environment of the household. Neighbouring households have their
own micro-environment but these systems combine to form a larger
community or village system. The inter-village system is a still
larger containing environment within a sub-region of a district.
The Macro Environment
Macro environmental systems surround the micro systems.
They contribute resource inputs (energy, goods and services,
information) to the household and community environments and
receive outputs from these smaller subsystems. Members of macro
institutions of national governments, political parties and
large-scale business and industry are the powerful rule-makers in
society. Macro economic policies related to the GDP,
international trade and balance of payments, were mentioned
earlier. Macro systems have much more power than the smaller
systems to control the allocation of resources.
Between the macro and the micro social systems are the
middle level institutions and powers based at regional,
provincial and district levels. Systems operate in a hierarchy.
Each smaller unit is a sub-system of the next larger unit in the
"whole", and they are interdependent. Middle level systems and
middle level policies are sometimes referred to as intermediate
or mesa level. The UNICEF review recommended an ordering of
policies; some of which would be- mesa policies to ensure
allocation of resources to priority objectives (Cornia, Jolly and
Stewart, 1987:158). An understanding of structural links is
important to policy and programme development.
Ecological systems vary within'a single nation. Malawi,
for example has developed agricultural policies for eight
agricultural development divisions, each based on a different
ecological zone (Kangaude, 1982). Thailand has implemented
integrated rural development and decentralization strategies
which play* significant attention to provincial, district and
village level organizations (Suchinda, 1989).
The social system levels and environments are
interdependent. The characteristic of interdependence is a
feature of the ecosystems perspective. See Figure 1.2 for a
diagram presenting a picture of the "whole".
Figure 1.2 The Micro and Macro Environments
Three types of
each level: MACROENVIRONMENT
Natural/Physical (Mesa level)
Source: Adapted from "Family Resource Managment: Principles and
Applications" by R.E.Deacon and.~P.M.Firebaugh, Figure 3.1, p.30.
By Permission of Allyn and Bacon Inc. 1988.
The Sociocultural Dimension
Development is not culture or value neutral. Culture is
represented in the way a group of people express their beliefs,
values and heritage.- -It show up in the choices they make, the
materials 'they produce and collect; their knowledge, skills,
dress, artifacts and aesthetic and religious expressions, gender
relations, politics and so on. In every society there is a
dominant culture or belief system with a technological system and
there are less dominant cultures and technologies.
The dominant value-orientations of the industrialized
North are: control over nature, "individualism" rather than
"cooperation", technological solutions, "having things" rather
than "being satisfied and at peace" with oneself. These societal
values are so taken for granted that many people are unaware of
them and the consequences. They are embodied in the socio-
political system and economic growth model of development and
they influence policies and programmes.
- --- --..-..-.. SubgroapSaSlin a society. may. have -thei.rown cultural. .
heritage and points of view. They may wish to become a part of
the mainstream groups or to remain separate and distinct as
ethnic or cultural minorities. Households and family systems may
also wish to remain distinct and separate from the majority, or
open to interaction and change. They may either limit or
encourage participation beyond their micro environment.
1.3.3 Rural Households and Farms as Ecosystems
The household ecosystem approach combines a household
systems approach with ideas from ecology. System concepts will
be explained first, in order to clarify their meanings, then
household as ecosystem and farm as ecosystem will be examined.
System Concepts Applied to Households
A system is a group of units so combined as to form a
whole and to operate in unison. A system works, moves or has
action. One part influences the operation of another part. Almost
anything with life or action can be seen as a system. Systems can
be living (such as the human body, the family), or non-living
(such as the bicycle or automobile), or a bit of both (the
Characteristics of systems are that they have:
wholeness and structure
boundaries which interface with other systems
functions to perform
These characteristics, applied to households, will help explain
how households operate.
(1) Wholeness refers to the fact that the parts of a system are
interdependent and operate-as a whole. Households are made up of
men, women'and children who interact and function as a system in
a particular location or residential unit. That does not mean
that the households are unified in their actions and decision-
making, but that members operate in a context with other members
and they influence each other and the whole system.
The household has a structure of recognizable but
interconnected parts that function independently but also as a
whole. Each resident has a social and assigned role and
activities to perform, and there is an authority structure.
The members are interdependent. A change in one part of the
system will cause changes throughout the system. If one person
does not function effectively the "whole" is effected. For
example, when a mother is sick, the whole household may be fed
inadequate meals. If a husband -leaves the residential unit in
order to join the paid labour force, his wife or wives may be
required to do the farming.
(2) A household has boundaries that indicate who belongs to that
household system and who does not. Responsibilities to members
who belong "inside" the system are greater than to those who are
"outside" the system boundaries.
Interface is the term used to indicate the shared boundary
between systems (eg. between households, between subsystems
inside the household, between household and community, etc.).
(3) Households have functions that they are expected to fulfil,
Generally there are household production and reproduction
functions. Household may or may not be composed of all members
of the family. These issues and changes in functions will be
expanded upon in Unit II.
(4) A system is composed of subsystems arranged in a hierarchy.
In a household made up of an extended family, the elders may be
one subsystem, parents another and the children another.
Subsystems are formed according to generation, sex, function, and
interests. Women and men in households operate as separate
subsystems for some purposes but not for others.
The farm is a sub-system of the larger household system which is
involved in a number of economic enterprises (other sub-systems).
The place of sub-system activities in)the hierarchy may depend on
the status and resources available to the persons involved.
(5) Finality is a concept that implies systems do not remain
active forever. They may become static or move towards finality
or an end state. To survive, a system must (a) function
productively, (b) manage inner tensions, and (c) defend itself
against external threats. Systems that are open to change are
able to grow and develop, but they eventually die.
Open and Closed Systems
An individual's access to resources depends. on the
nature of interchange within the household and across the
boundaries of the household system. Boundaries are flexible.
Household systems are generally open to interchanges with various
environmental systems. Open systems sustain themselves by
receiving and transforming inputs from external systems. They are
adaptive. Closed systems do not receive outside sustenance. They
become disorganized and die. Some households and communities set
up cultural boundaries which are partially closed in terms of
receiving inputs from the "outside", but they cannot easily
prevent external threats.
The Household Ecosystem Perspective
The household ecosystems perspective takes into account
the interdependence of humans with each other in a household
system and with external systems in micro and macro environments.
Elements of the household ecosystem are (1) the members .
(organisms), (2) the environments (natural/
technological/sociocultural) and (3) the web of transactions
carried out within and by the organized household (Paolucci, Hall
and Axinn, 1977:16).
Households are energy driven organizations open to
resource inputs of matter-energy and information from the
environment (Paolucci, Hall and Axinn, 1977:25). See figure 1.3
for a diagram of input and output flows, and the place of
feedback in the system. The household system controls, processes
and transforms these inputs and directs them towards individual
and family goals.
The concepts of inputs, throughputs, outputs and
feedback are system concepts. Inputs of energy, matter and
information (resources and demands) enter one system from
another. They are changed or transformed into outputs by the
activities which are carried out by household members within the
system. The outputs enter the environment. The concepts of
energy-matter and human-environment relationships are ecological
systems or ecosystems concepts.
) Figure 1.3
Household as Energy Driven System
inside the OUPUTS
goods ,different materials
\ / productive individuals
on ~ / new information
ital / waste
Source: "Family Decision Making: An Ecosystem Approach" by B.
Paol-ucci, O-A.-Hal-r-and -N-.-Axi-ni Figure 6, -- p--S;5----Bj--permission
from John Wiley and Sons, 1977.
The decision makers within the household system monitor
and direct the flows of information, goods and services. See
SFigure 1.4 for an application of these concepts to meal
preparation in the house
Figure 1.4 Ecosystems Concepts Applied to Meal Preparation
Goal: a meal that is nutritious and acceptable
to household members
INPUT >1 Serving the Meal
IDemand: a meal
IResources: food, fuel,
Space and facilities,
knowledge and skill of
cook and helpers.
SL -- FEEDBACK<--- -
I > OUPUT
' meal consumed,
(fuel and food used,
Household members respond differently. Individuals select one set
of inputs rather than another based on the stimuli and their
perceptions of the resources and demands, their knowledge and
skills, and their perception of needs.
The Farm as an Ecological System
According to Ruthenberg (1976:2) the farm is both an
ecosystem and an independent unit of economic activity. In his
book "Farming Systems in the Tropics" Ruthenberg states that:
... any farm is part of a hierarchy of systems, belonging
first to the larger system of the rural area and consisting
secondly, of various activities which are systems
themselves. The farm as a system consists of the cropping
pattern, the soil and its micro-organisms, the livestock,
the technology and the processing activities. The plants,
soils and animals are part of the biological system, the
-.-. : ---workers belong to-the social.s-ystem, ..----.--.--- ...- .-
An ecological perspective applied to farming systems
takes into account both the natural, human-built technological
and the social dimensions. Interactions are examined: people with
plants, animals, water, and other resources; plants with other
plants; plants with animals; and so on. Various environmental
factors are viewed in terms of the farmers' goals and priorities,
and the nature of the ecosystem.
Interaction of these dimensions of the farming system
varies by ecological zone or environment. Seven systems of farming
were described by Ruthenberg (1976). They include: shifting
cultivation, fallow systems, systems with permanent upland
cultivation, systems with arable irrigation farming, systems with
perennial crops, and grazing systems. These classifications of
farming systems represent different practices which fit the
resource base and the social organization of the people within
their ecological niche.
The incorporation of an ecological perspective in
agriculture thinking is a departure from tradition, but Albrecht
and Murdock (1984), among others, argue that it is critical to
examine relationships between human populations, environment,
technology and agricultural production. A new mode of
agroecosystem and natural resources research is being carried out
in Southeast Asia (SUAN, 1988). Farming systems research in
Thailand and in other member countries is adding an ecological
Integrating Farm and Household Systems
A common framework, such as the ecosystem framework could
help integrate farming systems and household ecosystems
approaches (Axinn, 1977,1984). An integrated perspective would
require ah understanding of the -"whole" farm household's
relationship to its environments in their ecological space. It
would require equal attention to the roles of women and men, and
children in all spheres of activity, not bounded by the household
system or the farming system, but within micro and macro
1.3.4 Interdependence of Systems and Subsystems:
A Highland New Guinea Example
A Case Study
The following case study will illustrate the
S--interdependence of- households and subsystems and the relationship-- -
between household structure and the production of a cash crop in
one ecological zone. It does not present details of the
interactions and contacts with outside systems, but the
connections with the macro system can be noted. It is taken from
the Human Ecology Journal, based on the research carried out by
Patricia Lyons Johnson (1988).
According to Johnson, coffee has become Papua New
Guinea's third most important export commodity, with particular
significance in the highlands. Coffee sales accounts for up to
90% of rural commodity income in that area. A study was carried
out in order to determine the ways in which the more successful
coffee growers differed from the less successful ones.
"Given the Gainj people's patterns of production and
consumption in the highlands, the household was considered the
appropriate unit of analysis. The Gainj live on the northern
fringe of the central highlands of Papua New Guinea in the
steeply rugged and heavily forested Takwi Valley. Just beyond the
northern wall of .the valley, the Schrader Escarpment plunges 1000
meters to the Ramu plains, clearly defining the highland-lowland
border. The nearest neighbours are the Kalam to the west, the
Simbai Valley Maring to the south, and the Ayom, Angaua, and Rao
lowlanders to the north.
The Gainj remain to a large degree subsistence slash-
and-burn horticulturalists. Their staple crop, sweet potato, is
grown in mixed gardens with taro yam, banana, pitpit, sugar
cane, a number of leafly greens, ahd some introduced cultigens
such as corn, pumpkin, cassava and cucumber. Tree crops include
Spandanus, breadfruit, and papaya. Pigs and chickens are raised
in small numbers but, their ceremonial value precludes frequent
consumption. Hunting contributes almost nothing to a household's
diet on any regular basis. Settlement is widely dispursed, and
strictly speaking, there are no villages, no nucleated
settlements with large aggregations of people. The official
population density for the Gainj census division is four per
square kilometer. The term "parish" is used to refer to both
territories and the people associated with them.
In 1973, in an attempt to foster rural economic
development in the valley, the Department of Primary Industry's
agricultural extension officer introduced coffee as a cash crop
to the Gainj. Despite a division of labour that clearly
identifies gardening as women's work among the Gainj, the male
workers provided coffee seedlings and the information about their
cultivation, processing and sale to men, who then established a
new division of labour for a new crop. Men plant coffee trees and
sell the final product; the remaining coffee labour, its
cultivation, harvesting and processing is performed by women.
Gainj accord ownership of trees and their fruit to those who
plant..them, so.the.-trees once- planted; in-..what. .is now someone
else's garden belong exclusively to the planter. Since men plant
coffee trees, the profits from coffee are theirs to disburse.
These profits are spent on investment in all-male business co-
operatives, education (almost exclusively male), air travel by
men to the provincial capital, and consumer goods, some of which
are potentially available to women.
In 1983, 110 households from ten Gainj parishes were
surveyed for a study of household variables and their
relationship to the relative success of households in the coffee-
growing industry. Eighty six of the sample households (78.2%) are
"conjugal family" households, that is, they have as their focus a
male head of household and one of his wives. The remaining 21.8%
of the households in the sample are either widow-headed
households or "bachelor houses" occupied by unmarried males.
Coffee is sold to a number of small buyers throughout
the valley as well as to two local business cooperatives. The
business cooperatives then operate as middlemen between the local
growers and small buyers in the valley and company buyers located
about 70 air miles away in Madang, the provincial capital.
Success in coffee growing was measured by the number of gardens
under cultivation. The influences of success were measured by:
(1) the age of the male household head, (2) migration experience
of male household head, (3) number of resident wives per
households, (4) number of resident nonmarried women between ages
20-60 (non-wives) per household, and (5) number of dependents per
The migration variable was meant to indicate a male head
of household's experience away from Takwi as a contract labourer;
the number of wives and non-wives, to indicate the separate
efforts of two proups of women. Since women's labour is an
integral part of coffee growing it is reasonable to assume that
alternative demands on women's labour may effect a household's
commercial production. Women are responsible for the major burden
of subsistence production. In addition, they bear, nurse and
care for children, provide firewood and water, tend the sick and
dying, produce string and weave it into clothing and
carrying bags, and carry out minimal pig husbandry and housesite
maintenance. As a measure of these alternate demands, the number
of dependents per household, that is the number of people for
whom the women of the household perform these tasks, excluding
the women themselves but including those bachelors who were fed
by households although not resident, was entered in the analysis.
The observed number of wives per household was 1-3, the non-wives
0-4, and the dependents 1-14.
Information about the households and their coffee
production was collected in 1978 and in 1983. The results of a
multiple regression analysis of the data indicated that migration
exper-ierce-.of --the---ma-les:-.--had--n e effect. The number of wives per
household had the largest positive effect 'on success in coffee
production in 1983. But the greatest effect was that of nonwives
added to households in 1983. This effect is presumably related
to their lesser involvement with children. Nonwives are able to
act more selectively as coffee producers for the household. The
addition of productive women enabled households to increase their
commitment to coffee production, but it may have been the other
way around. Coffee production could increase because the women
were there and available for work.
As yet, the women have not made serious demands upon
men for compension for their labour in coffee growing, and
although material benefits such as clothing, pots or purchased
foods, are sometimes available to women in more successful
households, these do not seem to be the primary consideration
when women ally themselves with particular households. They are
there primarily because they are widows and have affective ties
with the women of the household."
Source: Johnson, P.L" "Women in Development: A Highland New
Guinea Example", Human Ecology. 16:105-122.
1. Development is a process of progressive change which leads to
social and economic benefits for all people.
2. Changes in development thinking have led to participatory
approaches which encourage rural people to contribute to the
analysis of their condition and their position in local and
larger or macro systems.
3. The household is the primary social unit providing the common
source of support for individuals and for interchange with
4. A household ecosystem is made up of a collectivity of
interdependent but independent parts working together to achieve
common goals within micro and macro environments.
5. The farm is an enterprise of the household but is also a
system which integrates crops, livestock, use of land, water, and
6. The micro-environment of the farm household is the immediate
setting, or the physical and social surroundings which are
outside the boundary of the household system but in clor^
7. The macro-environment surrounds the micro-environment and 's
the comprehensive system of interchange which contributes
resources and receives resources from individuals and households.
8. Interactions of natural/biophysical, human-built
technological, and socio-institutional environments influence the
total interchange of resources and the potential for socio-
9. Systems and subsystems operate in a hierarchy; the larger
systems have more power and control than the smaller.
10. Sustainable' development can be anticipated only if all
system levels interact and participate in a process of social
change which leads to human betterment.
1.5 TEACHING, LEARNING AND EVALUATION
The final section in this study unit includes
suggestions for teaching and learning, and for evaluation. The
suggestions are based on the first six objectives listed at the
beginning 'of the unit. Objective -number 7 relates to
participation in small discussion or working groups and applies
to all other objectives. The suggestions offered are meant to
actively involve participants (policy makers, educators,
students) in reading, searching, questioning, debating,
exploring and analyzing sources of information; in other words
"participation" practiced in the classroom.
Objective 8, a commitment towards improved development
practice on behalf of rural women and households, is anticipated
and can only be judged by self-evaluation and observation of
actions taken by other participants in this unit of study.
-1,5.1-- Suggestions for Teaching and Learning .
1. Policy Influences on Rural Programmes
(a) Review the major changes in policies which have taken
place in their own country in the last two or three decades and
compare those to the ones outlined in this manual.
(b) Develop a set of questions to ask about the changes and
about how those have influenced one programme (eg. agriculture
extension, rural development, community development, primary
health care or some other programme) at two points in time.
(c) Meet in small groups to discuss the questions and the
changes. Draw conclusions about how the policies influenced
2. Critical Development Issues
(a) People have different points of view about critical
development issues. Carry out a simple survey. Work in pairs to
find out from three different sources, what is considered to be
four priority development issues in your country. The sources of
information should be: 1) government reports or documents or a
paper or papers presented by development authorities, 2) four
persons in your class, 3) two of your lecturers or teachers.
Study the reports. Ask each person what they think.
(b) Compile the information collected and determined if there
is any agreement. Identify what,- you consider to be the two
priority issues. Write a 2 to 3 page. report of your findings.
(c) Study the issues listed in the manual and compare them to
those in your survey. Were there any common problems? Which of
the listed problems are most critical in your country?
3. Use of The Ecosystem Framework
(a) Divide into small working groups of about 4 or 5 persons
to discuss ecosystem concepts and their application to the place
where this training programme is being held (the school, training
centre or college). Name the parts of the system. Identify the
boundaries (who and what belongs "inside" the system). With what
other systems does this one interface? What are the functions
of the system? Describe the heirarchy (subsystems). Who are the
rule-makers? Who has the most power? What are the inputs to the
system for the outside environments and from which environments?
What are the outputs from this system to the environment? Will
any of the outputs harm the natural environment?
Choose one spokesperson to report to the larger group and
discuss. Clarify understandingg of....ecosytem concepts.
(b) Regroup to represent rural households in one community in a
selected ecological zones in your country. Ask the same questions
and help each other understand the concepts.
(c) Consider the case study about rural households in Papua New
Guinea or of other households that you know well, or find a
written case study from your own country to analyze. Use the
format on the next page (Table 1.3) to record examples of inputs
to the household and outputs from the household to other systems;
(resources or support given). List at least three inputs and
outputs from each system.
4. Comparison of Farming Systems Approaches
(a) Find out about one farming systems approach being used in
your country. Compare it to the approaches described in this
manual. Identify the stages that are common and those that are
(b) Discuss the following questions in class:
Are the approaches based on a "technology push" or a "farmer
need"? Explain. Which of the stages do you think most difficult
to implement? Give reasons.
How are the women farmers included and approached?
Which aspects of the approach do you think should receive more
attention, if any? Why?
(c) Work in small groups todiscuss using an ecosystems
perspective and adding some features which would help
integrate household, farm and environment. Compile a list of
the ideas to keep for further reference.
) Table 1.3 Format for Recording the Intdrchange Between
a Rural Household and The Environment Systems
Interchange Resources or Support
to the rural household
from the rural household
to the government
from the economic system
to the rural household
from the rural household
.. -to-.the-eco.romic system .
from the natural environment
to the rural household
From the rural household
to the natural environment
from the technological system
to the rural household
from the rural household
to the technological system
from the community system
to the rural household
from the rural household
to the community system
NOTE: List as many resources as you can, going each direction.
5. Resources Needed by Rural Households
(a) Refer to the chart that was filled in about the exchange of
resources (Table 1.3). Categorize the resources that came into
the household from outside environments as human, material or
(b) Add to the list, those resources that the household has
available inside its own system for subsistence food production.
Then identify the extra resources they would need:
. for production of a new cash crop, and
. for the care of two pre-school children during planting
or harvet season.
6. Resource Potentials and Constraints
(a) Collect some articles about communities or community
programmes in the rural areas of your country. Study those and
make a list of the resources available to the rural households.
Ientify and--maRe-anotIeK--is.t.o--resource constraints.
(b) Form small groups to discuss the available resources, the
potentials and the constraints within rural households and their
own communities. Summarize and present oral reports to the
1.5.2 Evaluation of Understanding of Unit I
As a result of participating in this unit of study, students or
trainees should be able to:
1. (a) Destribe two development policies' that differ from each
other, one of which is recent and is being implemented in their
own country. The policies can be government or non-government, or
private agency policies.
(b) Name at least three village level or rural programmes
which have been established in your country as a result of policy
changes at national level. Describe the basic activities of one
of the programmes and explain how it was influenced by policy.
(c) State whether or not any of the policies implemented to
promote agriculture or rural development in their country took
into account the principles of "basic human needs". Explain.
2. Write a paragraph about each of three of the. most critical
development problems recognized in your country. In each
paragraph list the priority issues associated with each problem.
3. Discuss two major. interchanges between the economic system of
the macro environment and the micro environment of rural
Households. Include in the discussion an explanation of how
factors in the natural environment affected the interchange.
4. (a) Choose one of the farming systems approaches and explain
why you think it is better or worse than another approach.
(b) Explain what could be added to the approach to help make
it more: i. ecologically sustainable
ii. relevant for women and for non-farm rural activities
5. Categorize and describe the types of abilities which a person
would require when performing either of the following tasks:
i. growing a crop of rice
ii. preparing a nutritious meal for the household members
6. Identify the human, material, and environmental resources
which may be either underutilized or inappropriately utilized to
meet basic human needs of rural people.
7. Define: development system
basic human needs ecosystem
equity farming system
equitable access environemt
food security micro and macro
/ sustainable development interface
UNIT II ANALYSIS OF RURAL HOUSEHOLDS AND THEIR ECONOMY
The first unit of study addressed alternative approaches
to development and proposed an ecosystem framework for analysis.
The analysis of rural households, gender issues and the household
economy is the focus of Unit II. The major goals of the unit are
for students to gain basic skills in analysis and acquire a
deeper understanding of rural households as functioning systems.
The unit is subdivided into four main topics to be followed by a
section on teaching, learning and evaluation of the four topics:
1) Rural Households as Contributors to Development
2) The Household Economy and Development
3) Analysis of Gender and Resource Allocation Issues
4) Methods of Analysis
5) Teaching, Learning and Evaluation
At the end of the unit students should be able to:
2.1 discuss the functions of rural families and households
and their contribution to social and economic
2.2 describe recent changes in household structure and
function and the changing roles of males and females
by age in selected environmental systems,
2.3 use a model of the "whole" economy of rural household
to identify goods and services produced by the
household for use and exchange,
2.4 identify gender-specific activities based on the
analysis of available case study information
2.5 recognize the time and energy demands on rural women
by comparing information about patterns of activity,
2.6 describe factors which constrain or facilitate rural
people's ability to gain access and control of land,
capital and other resources in their environments,
2.7 draw conclusions about the nature of the problems faced
by rural people who are working towards their own
livelihood and sustainable development.
2.1 RURAL HOUSEHOLDS AS CONTRIBUTORS TO DEVELOPMENT
Rural households are of particular interest in this
training manual because 70 to 90 percent of populations in many
developing countries are rural and the majority of the people are
Rural households are responsible for farming the
mainstay of the national economy and the source of livelihood for
millions of individuals. Small-farm agriculture and non-farm
activities are embedded in the economy of the rural household and
in the ecosystem. This section, therefore, attempts to expand
understanding of rural households as "whole" systems and their
contribution to social and economic development in an environ-
mental context. Social and cultural sustainability are taken
into account as well as household goals and their role in
building a sound economy. Agricultural production, human well-
being and sustainable environments are considered to be
interdependent. Urban households are not excluded because they
-have links with those in.rural areas.... Rural and urban .households
are dependent on each other and on the agricultural base of the
Special attention is paid to the role of women as
members of families and households. Interaction of family
Members, intra and inter-household dynamics and power
S relationships are major influences on resource allocation,
productivity and the well-being of individuals. Developments
that take place within household systems have an impact on the
whole environment and vice versa.
2.1.1 Family or Household as Unit of Study and Action
There is no definition of family or household that seems
to be universally acceptable, but it is important to make a
distinction between the terms family and household, and to
Family Definition and Structure
A family could be considered to be an organized group
of persons bound together by bonds of marriage, blood or adoption
who create and carry on a set of role obligations and functions
in order to maintain themselves over time. A family may not
necessarily share one residence to operate as a system.
Marital systems may be monogomous or polygamous,
customary or legalized by the State; designed according to
religious interpretations and practices or by other traditions;
S mate selection autonomous or arranged. Women or men may gain or
) lose access and control of resources through marriage.
The structure of a family may be nuclear (composed of
husband, wife, and their offspring) or conjugal (priority given
to the marital relationship); or may be of the extended type
(with emphasis on the parent-child and kin relationship). In
Nepal, for example, most agricultural households go through a
cycle id which the extended family breaks up into nuclear
families which in time themselves form into extended families as
sons marry and bring in wives (Achraya and Bennett, 1981:55). A
nuclear family unit or a domestic group is usually functionally
interdependent with larger units of a kinship system.
The majority of rural populations have a domestic
organization which consists of nuclear families who share a
single dwelling at some stage in the family's life-cycle. At that
stage, family and household unit are one and the same.
Family or domestic life-cycle refers to stages of
development of the nuclear family unit based on the ages of the
children and their presence in the home. The cycle progresses
..-..from the-newly married .without-children,- to -d-amilies with growing
children, families with children who are young adults, then to
elderly families without dependent children. Adult children, in
turn, become caretakers of the older generation.
Extended family systems transcend the generations. New
family members are born and replace older members who die and the
system lives on. Members do not usually form one household.
Subsytems may live in diverse locations, but maintain links with
each other. Members know the "boundaries", that is, who belongs
to one family system and not another.
Rules of residence for a household may be patrilocal,
matrilocal, bilocal, neolocal or some other form, based on
changing socio-cultural relations; and may include two or three
generations of one family in one household.
Kinship and group membership may be based on
patrilineal, matrilineal, bilateral or double descent systems and
family inheritence rules. Each kin group may have a set of
religious and political functions and some means of social and
economic control. Extended families and kinship groups can have
strong influences on allocation and control of resources.
Land and labour allocation and distribution of surplus
goods may be organized by the kinship group or lineage, and be
reorganized by the group when there are changes in rural
development policies and land tenure regulations. Women may or
may not have access to land or property, or to benefits,
depending upon the rules established by the kinship group.
Dissolution of lineage solidarity or weakened ties to
the extended family result in new patterns of organization and
control (eg. formation of different kinds of households and co-
resident groups with more independence). Boundaries are not so
rigid. In Malawi, for example, the matrilineal societies are
shifting form 'mother right' to 'father right' for allocation and
use resources (Banda, 1989).
Definition of Household
A household is a group of persons who share residential
accommodation and/or responsibilities for production and
consumption within the unit. It may be defined by the members
who eat from the same cooking pot but that is not always a good
definition. Household subsystems often re-group themselves for
eating and for other functions (eg. cash crop production, food
production, food processing, cooking, care of dependent elderly,
etc.). The composition of the household may change by season,
but the people who are members of the household retain a link and
some responsibility for the unit, thus, the household cam
. continuee to operate as .a system. Individuals know to which unit
they belong and to whom they have obligations.
Functions of Family and Household
The functions of families and households are critical to
a nation's development. Three groups of functions can be
1) educative, socialization and nurturance functions which
includes the following:
providing affection and emotional nurturance,
education or socialization/ helping members develop cultural
values, habits and ways of behaving, passing on indigenous
knowledge and technical skills,
recreation and satisfactory interpersonal relationships,
health, protection and safety,
achieving status and a sense of belonging.
2) contribution to the market economy, which includes:
labour inputs for market work,
interaction with economic, political and legal institutions
outside the family system,
adaptation to changing conditions,
earning a cash income in order to provide financial support
and consumer goods for family members.
3) production and provision of goods and services for family
consumption, as follows:
provision of food, clothing, shelter and other material
replacement of members through giving birth to children and
contributing to the nation's population,
The listed functions apply equally well to rural and
urban situations. Families and households remain active
producers and providers even in industrialized societies, only
the types of goods and service produced change. Families are not
obstacles, nor are they necessarily victims of social change.
Some of the functions listed, are joint responsibilities
of husbands and wives and some are not. Some functions are shared
by extended families, some by households and some by subsystems
of the household. Regardless of the arrangement, functions which
are carried out effectively can contribute to over-all well-being
of each person and to economic and social development.
Changes in Household Structure and Function
Changes in the natural, technological and socio-
institutional environments cut across all system levels in
society. New family alignments and patterns of participation
develop which enable individuals, households or sub-group to
carry out their functions and meet goals in different ways.
Family structure and composition changes, source of
support and services change, roles of males and females change
and some household responsibilities are relinquised. Expansion of
opportunities at national and community levels mean that families
are not the only sources of income, material goods, education,
recreation, religious affiliation, and so on. Conversely,
constraints at macro levels mean that household are obliged to
return to self-production as a survival strategy.
Household size, composition, and authority patterns vary
with stage in the household's life-cycle, environmental
conditions, and cultural traditions. Household members with
position and/or seniority in the system tend to have more power
and control than those who are junior; men more power than women.
Variations in household structure which can be observed
today are: female-headed households, adults living without a
spouse, and various other living arrangements which include non-
kin, as well as the male-headed households. Flexibility in
organization allows variation in farm-enterprise-wage labour
combinations. The producer-consumer ratio in the household is
changed along with changes in the family life-cycle and other
internal and external influences.
A major change is the growing number of female headed
households throughout the world. In 1985 it was estimated that
18 percent of the households in the developing world were headed
by women, and that in some countries the figure was as high as 40
percent (FAO, 1985). Some of the changes can be noted in the
case study from Kenya.
A Case Study: Household Heads in Rural Kenya
In Kenya there are four socially and economically
significant types of household heads: 1) resident married men,
2) absentee married men whose resources are managed by male kin,
3) married women who practice subsistence agriculture and manage
household resources in the absence of migrant spouses, and 4)
women alone who have no permanent connection with a primary adult
male. These four types of households occur in both rural and
urban areas. The number of people living in them varies; they
have differential access to resources and income and they are
impoverished to greater and lesser degrees. Households headed by
resident men generally house the largest number of people
(average 6.78 members) compared to those headed by women alone
(average 4.19 members).
A greater proportion of the households headed by married
. men are in areas suitable for high-value cash crops than is the
S case for households headed by women with absent husbands or women
alone. Married men who head households have greater access to
off-farm employment, which is an important source of income for
small-scale agricultural households.
Households headed by absentee males are a rural
phenomena associated with male labour migration to urban areas
such as Nairobi, Mombasa and to rapidly growing secondary towns.
Resource management by the migrant kinsmen appears to be most
common among the Luo and Luhyia, who have strong ties within
lineages. Households headed by women with absent spouses also
occur in rural areas and are associated with the migration of
male labourers. In such households, wives rather than lineage
members, manage household resources. This pattern seems to be
most common among the Kikuku.
Households headed by women alone are sharply
distinguished from the other categories by their smaller size,
minimal access to resources, and greater poverty. Such household
heads include widows who often support children, separated women,
and women in changing consensual unions with men who contribute
little to the household. Few never-married women head households
because it is difficult for a woman to acquire land.
Widowhood contributes significantly to the formation of
female-headed households not only because women generally live
longer than men but also because they tend to marry men three to
ten years their senior. Widows often have limited, opportunity to
remarry. Traditionally they were absorbed into extended families,
but as resources diminish in response to population increases,
fewer families are able to provide such assistance. Sometimes
rural widows care for grandchildren.
Most traditional Kenyan societies were based on domestic
units that consisted of a woman and her children supervised by a
polygynous male. Each wife was allocated rights to use and manage
land and cattle in order to provide for herself and her children.
Often termed the "house-property" complex this pattern of
resource allocation passed rights to land and cattle from a man
to his sons via the "house" of the son's mother. This pattern of
separate management of domestic units by co-wives provides a
model for contemporary woman-headed households. A major
difference in the contemporary compared to the traditional is the
extent of the detachment from the larger male-supervised kinship
No precise division of adult labour by sex currently
occurs in the crop and livestock activities in the crop-producing
regions of Kenya. This change has been attributed to: 1) reduced
livestock production and more intensive land use on restricted
amounts of land per household, 2) sale of farm products to meet
household needs for cash, 3) reduced farm labour among children,
who are increasingly attending school, and 4) fewer men working
on farms because of off-farm employment. Despite the overlapping
involvement in farm tasks, women continue to perform all
household maintenance and child care tasks.
A dominant economic force operating at household level
today is the growing need for cash to provide basic needs. It is
reported that as much as 60 percent of small-holders' basic needs
require cash expenditures, particularly for such items as tea,
sugar, clothing, school fees, school uniforms, water use,
transportation to health facilities, and food to supplement that
which is produced on the holding.
Source: Marl H. Clark "Woman-headed Households and Poverty:
Insights from Kenya". Signs, Journal of Women in Culture and
Society, 1984, Vol. 10, no. 2 pp.338-344.
2.1.2 Households as Health Providers and Educators
The household as a system provides its greatest
contribution to development by the creation and maintenance of
human resources and in maintaining the near environment. Many of
the activities- carried out by women are (1) survival activities;
obtaining resources and managing resources for daily subsistence,
and (2) humanizing activities; caring for each household member
and providing emotional support (Paolucci et al, 1976:16).
Contribution to Food Security and Nutrition
A major contribution of households is to provide
nutritious meals and health care in the environment of the or the
immediate environment. Healthy, competent human beings with
long, productive life spans can make a big difference to a
country's development. The creation and maintenance of such
human resource capabilities is basically a household function.
In rural areas the tasks of producing the food,
harvesting, food processing and storage, meal preparation and
service are household based activities, usually carried out by
women. The nation's labour force can continue working because of
household food security and home based support provided by women.
Eating habits are established within households. In low-
income households, however, under-nutrition has become a way of
life. In times of crisis, children are the most vulnerable. In
some countries 30 to 40 percent of children die before the age of
five because of a combination of under-nutrition and health
problems experienced at household level (UNICEF, 1988).
Socio-economic conditions at household level have a
direct influence on nutritional status and health and an indirect
effect on development of the nation. Many nations are
experiencing an incredible waste of human resources due to ill-
health and early death of its people. Thus the need to pay more
attention to resource allocation at the level of households and
Contribution to Education
Education and training begins in the household. A great
deal of learning is informal and derived from interactions at
home and within family systems (Paolucci et al, 1976:30-38).
In settings where there is little opportunity for formal
education, most of the teaching and learning is informal and
carried on within the household and local community. Indigenous
S knowledge and cultural practices grow and develop through the
socialization practices carried out and sustained by households.
In addition, households can influence school achievement
and participation in formal and non-formal education established
by the larger macro systems. Parents and the elderly are
responsible for the ways in which children approach educational
experiences. Their attitudes, reactions and discipline
techniques are influential. Family or household members play a
critical role in decision making about who should be educated and
how. They can prepare, motivate, and stimulate both the females
and the males and can encourage participation in the outside
educational and economic systems.
According to systems theory, the household educational
system interfaces with other educational systems. The inputs and
outputs from the micro and macro systems influence each other.
Community level programmes can be effectively designed to take
this interface into account. They can support households,
influence decisions to educate girls as well as boys, and at the
same time accomplish larger system goals.
Contribution to Child Welfare and Family Health
The ecological effects of large families pressure on
available resources, smaller size land holdings, low incomes,
means that the individual needs of each child cannot be met.
The rationale for population, family planning and
primary health care policies may be understood at macro level but
not at micro level at the level of implementation. Child
spacing is a family resource management decision. Survival
strategies of poor families may be to have more children with the
assumption that some will die and others are needed for household
labour. The poor may encourage girls to drop out of school in
order to help at home. Thus poverty problems become more
entrenched and long-term.
Higher standards of living and health are possible only
when there are fewer pregnancies and fewer mouths to feed, more
adequate family housing, more highly educated women, and more
quality time available for parents to spend caring for children.
Thus the need to address interdependent relationships and take a
whole systems approach.
2.1.3 Economic Contributions and Problems of Households
Households develop their own economic strategies. These
are seldom studied, but survival strategies of households during
periods of sharp decline or economic constraint have helped
expand recognition of this micro sector. The following brief
descriptions are based on analysis of information available to
Cornia et al (1987:93).
Allocation of Household Labour to the Economy
One of the functions of households is to produce and
supply labour for the micro economy of the household and for the
macro economy. In regards to household labour allocation there
is always'a trade-off with respect to who participates and where.
Households experiencing severe economic constraints in some
countries have been observed to participate in illegal or quasi-
legal activities such as smuggling, beer-brewing, prostitution,
drug cultivation and trafficking. In several developing
countries, men have migrated in search of paid employment.
Women, children and the elderly have been left to carry on the
farming and other small-scale enterprises to support themselves.
The whole economy would benefit if a greater proportion of labour
could be allocated to productive enterprises.
Increasing Household Production
.. .----. Households-have. always engaged in the production of.a
number of goods and services for their own use. During periods of
economic constraint many households have increased such
production. People in urban and rural have begun to use small
plots of land to produce food for home consumption. Rural
households in Ghana, for example, became more heavily involved in
subsistence production rather than in market production in order
to survive. The opportunity cost to the nation was a dramatic
fall in the main export crop, cocoa (Cornia et al, 1987:111).
Reallocation of Financial Resources
Households that are able to accumulate cash have
opportunities for capital investments and expansion of
production, also for increased household consumption. Many
households, however, have not been able to earn a cash income or
accummlate savings. Limited resource households have accumulated
debts and owe money to local money-lenders at very high interest
rates. Others have sold assets such as livestock in order to
survive (Cornea et al, 1987:96). Such depletion of resources lead
to even greater poverty for households and impose more
constraints on the macro economy.
Increasing the Flow of Grants or Transfers
Members of extended families or informal networks have
traditionally relied on each other for gifts or grants. In
periods of economic constraint family members with assets are
called upon to transfer increased amounts of cash or food, or
provide housing to relatives with critical needs. Public
assistance in most developing countries is rare. Families are
the providers, but their own assets are drained away, not
available for investment.
Efficient Use of Household Resources
Consumption strategies used by households to improve the
efficiency of existing resources are: 1) changes in purchasing
habits such as reducing the cost of basic food items, 2) changes
in food 'preparation habits, 3) changes in overall consumption
patterns, 4) changes in dietary patterns, and 5) changes in
intrahoushold food distribution.
Other survival strategies practiced by households in
times of economic constraint are: extended family migration and
change in household composition and organization; concentration
of large numbers in one dwelling or household size is reduced
through seasonal migration (Cornia et al, 1987:100).
Several of these strategies have limited value or
negative effects on development. Often they exist because of a
lack of government policy or awareness of the impact of
structural adjustment policies, or of the development potentials
. o.f.rural-.households .
An expanded view of the household economy and the
options for development is necessary in order to design more
creative strategies for growth and human betterment. The next
section of this manual will provide a framework for understanding
the household economy.
2.2 THE HOUSEHOLD ECONOMY AND DEVELOPMENT
It is not usual for traditionally educated economists or
agricultural economists to include families or households in
their analysis. The focus of the discipline of economics is
usually the monetized sectors of production, capital formation,
commodities, markets, commercial agriculture, industrial firms,
financial institutions, international trade, and so on. In the
study of economics, families are usually considered consumers not
producers. The "informal" unpaid labour of the household or the
output of goods and services used by the household are not taken
into account when a nations' gross domestic product is
calculated. This section describes an alternative view.
As noted in the above section households are not static.
They are active systems, able to adapt, to continue producing and
functioning even at lower levels of productivity. A potential
output of an effective household system is a healthy labour
force. Another potential output is the type of value system
which motivates.active participation in commercial production.and
social change. Household members are capable of increased
involvement in formal economic sectors of the economy and in
contributing to the society of the future. Poor rural households
are functioning at low levels, but their economy, operating as a
subsystem of the "whole", could be expanded.
2.2.1 Economic Terminology Applied to Households
The following economic concepts applied to rural
households will help us understand how the household economy
functions and how it can be supported.
Economics: The study of the production, allocation and use of
scarce resources in order to satisfy human wants.
Household Economy: The actions of producing, distributing,
consuming and investing carried out by household members to meet
the needs and wants of the household system.
Economizing: Making optimum use of a combination of scarce
resources to get the ouput desired over a period of time.
Allocation: The household allocates or assigns resources to
specific uses. Some are assigned to production, some to
consumption, some to redistribution, and some to investment for
Distribution and Redistribution: The final step in production is
to assign produced goods among household members for intended
uses on the basis of needs, wants and interests; and to re-
distribute or sell the surplus.
Consumption: In the household economy consumption refers to the
use of goods and services directly, to satisfy wants. In the
larger economy consumption includes the manufacturing processes
or transformation of ingredients into another product for sale to
consumers. (eg. a baker consumes flour to produce bread).
Accumulation or Saving: Resources are stored or withheld;
consumption of goods is delayed to a later time.
Investment: The conversion of assets into some form of wealth.
Output: The satisfaction gained and the met demands are the
outputs of economic activity. Outputs of the household economy
can help satisfy the demands for development.
Goals of Households
The household economy cannot be analyzed in the same way
as the economy of a small-firm. For a small-firm or small-scale
enterprise the goal is profit. The goals of households are to
satisfy wants and basic human needs. Wants are unlimited.
Individual wants and needs may compete with each other and/or
with those of the whole household or micro-system. Resource
limitations constrain the household's choices. Each person or
subgroup must choose among competing ends or goals in order to
maximize satisfaction from production and consumption.
Individuals and households have preferences. They set
priorities based on values. One set of goals and one set of
resources may be given priority over another because of the
perceived utility (Beutler and Owen, 1980). Household
production patterns and production goals are influenced by the
quantity and quality of items the members wish to consume, and
2.2.2 The Concept of "Whole" Economy
The term economy has often been interpreted to include
only the formal or monetized sectors of a nation and not the
informal or non-monetized sectors. If we refer back to the
definition of economy we will note reference made to resources,
not just to cash, but to all resources which satisfy human wants
Activities undertaken by households include formal or
market activities based on exchange and non-formal activities
which are not usually monetized or given a cash value. See
Figure 2.1 for a proposed framework of the "whole" economy.
Figure 2.1 THE WHOLE ECONOMY
Formal Economic Informal Economic
Corporate Co-operatives Voluntary Household
and Collectives Activities
Small Farms, Community Mutual Aid,
Self-employed Organizations Barter,
Enterprises and Enterprises Skills Exchange
Source: Adapted from D.P.Ross and P.J.Usher "From the Roots Up:
Economic Development as if Community Mattered", Figure 2, p. 55.
By permission of the Canadian Council on Social Development,
In the diagram, note the range of economic activities in
each of the formal and informal sectors, and those in between.
The corporate sector consists of large scale business, industry
or factories, large commercial or plantation type farms. Big
business corporations and multi-national corporations operate in
this sector. Government agencies or public services also operate
in the formal sector. These sectors use specialized processes, a
technical division of labour, and employ people with different
capabilities to do the work. Usually they are organized and
directed through a top-down bureaucratic structure.
Small farms and self-employed business enterprises such
as repair shops and retail outlets are not highly specialized,
but also belong to the formal sector because the goods produced
are sold for cash. Semi-subsistence farms are not strictly
formal or profit based. They operate as a mixed economy
surving both survival and profit objectives of households.
The informal sector of the economy is interpreted in the
.; "_i--9:-E--~.'' t---, -I
diagram as comprising the voluntary un-paid work carried out at
household and community levels. The dotted line indicates that a
number of activities, such as co-operatives and community
enterprises fall in-between the formal and informal categories.
Some work in the cooperative sector is voluntary; some of the
goods and services are sold for cash but not all.
The whole economy of a nation includes a combination of
activities; the activities of the large scale corporate sector
plus those at intermediate and lower levels, both the paid and
the unpaid, but operating in a hierarchy.
The Formal Economy
The formal economy is an exchange economy. That means
that money or goods and services of equal monetary value are
exchanged; economic values or prices and the procedures for
making the exchange are known. The exchange is regulated by
_ .._.,.._.market _fores.r_bygovernment.ora .combination of the two. .--The -
formal economy is usually made up of primary (farming, mining,
forestry, fisheries and other natural resource industries),
secondary (manufacturing) and tertiary (service) sectors.
Business and industry, and farms can be owner
operated, under private corporate ownership, government owned,
cooperatively owned and managed, or a mix of state and privately
owned. The type of organizational structure and form of
ownership is influenced by political policies and historical
traditions in each country. The size of each of the sectors
varies according to the level of industrialization. Major goals
of formal sector activities are growth and maximumization of
profits. Wages od paid labourers may be kept low in order to make
The public sector refers to the government sector at all
levels: national, provincial, regional and local. Employees are
paid a salary; decision-making and control is often centralized
or carried out by senior administrators or boards.
Traditional economists consider the work of the formal
sector as the productive sector. It can be given a monitary
value, measured and taken into account when calculating a
country's gross domestic product (GDP).
The Informal Economy
The informal economy is not clearly visible and
documented. It includes the unregulated, casual sector of
economic activity or off-farm enterprises; unregulated in terms
of pay scales and licenses and using non-standardized and non-
organized labour. Income generated is usually small and unstable,
working conditions difficult.' Many women and children work in
this sector. Young (1987) has suggested the informal sector
includes three types of enterprises:
1) Small scale sub-contracting producing intermediate goods for
the formal sector (eg. machine parts). The enterprises are
structurally inter-locked with those of the formal sector.
2) Small scale manufacturing producing intermediate consumer
goods for the domestic market, usually in competition with formal
sector goods (eg. making of shoes, garments, furnishings, tools,
handicrafts, snack foods, etc.).
3) Small scale personal services such as petty trading, small
scale transport, repair, dressmaking, hairdressing, etc., mostly
for informal sector producers in the local community.
The Household and-Grants Economy. -. -...
A number of researchers have expressed concern that
commonly used definitions of work or of the labour force do not
include the informal or household sectors (Beneria, 1981; Anker,
1983; Boulding,E. 1983). The idea that some work is productive
and worth including in national labour statistics and other work
is not, has persisted for a very long time. The day to day
household or domestic work carried on by women is frequently not
defined as "work". Women themselves say "I am not working".
Although not included in the sectors of work listed in
the previous section, all of household work is informal, and it
is unpaid:- gathering fuel and garden produce, hauling water,
food production for home consumption, food processing and
preservation, shopping, cooking and meal service, laundry,
housebuilding and maintenance, care of family members.
Papanek (1979) provides further clarification by
proposing the term "family status production" and identifying
three types of work expected of women: 1) support work to
maintain household members who are in the paid labour force, 2)
training of children (eg. shaping their future aspirations, their
social behaviour and marriage opportunities), and 3) political
status maintenance through gift exchange and participation in
ceremonials (eg. weddings, funerals, other religious ceremonies
and cultural events). Voluntary activities, mutual aid, gifts of
goods and services is also a part of the household economy, and
the work of women.
The grants economy is a term used to describe these
transactions (Boulding, 1968; Bivens, 1976). A grant does not
follow the rules of the market. It is a one-way transfer of
money, goods or services with no immediate reciprocity expected.
For example, parents provide their children with food, clothing,
shelter, education and care and do not expect to be paid. There
may be reciprocity later on in life but the arrangement is
implicit, not contractual.
Grants are inter-generational. Over time, in an
extended family, grants are made from children to parents and to
other kin. Human well-being is enhanced because of such intra
and inter-household grants. Transfers of goods and services to
one another are a form of social outreach for families.
Collectives and Cooperatives
Collectives and cooperatives, like families, have social
dimensions as well as economic dimensions. They include
characteristics of both the formal and informal economies.
Commercial profit could be a primary or a secondary goal.
Cooperatives..are established for .child care, community centres,
group homes, food production and housing, handicraft sales,
credit and loan societies, and so on. They rely on the voluntary
labour of the members, and on donations and grants. Management
style and organizational structures are usually informal. People
are encouraged to participate and share resources.
The concept of "whole" economy assumes all sectors of a
national economy are recognized; the primary, secondary and
tertiary sectors of the formal economy plus the community,
household and cooperative sectors.
Interdependence of Formal, Informal and Household Economies
See Figure 2.2 for a diagram of the interaction between
the three sectors: formal, informal and human resource production
sectors, based on the work by Young (1987).
Figure 2.2 Interdependence of Economic Sectors
(logic of profit) (logic of survival)
Human Resource Production Sector
(logic of human needs)
In real life, at household level, domains of economic
activity are interdependent. In times of economic crises large
numbers of people who lose formal sector jobs can be absorbed
into the.informal .e4,onQmy,. There is a flow.of people and a flow
of resources across all three sectors, as noted in the diagram
above. A case study from a Bangladesh village based on a study by
Begum (1989) will illustrate.
A Case Study: Income-Earning Activities in a Bangladesh Village
Most people in the village of Arappur (not its real
name) in the district of Jesore in Bangladesh are engaged in
agricultural cultivation, which provides 47% of all employment.
The main agricultural products are rice and jute, vegetables are
grown extensively, and pisciculture is fairly developed. In
addition to a market centre in the village, there are six rice
mills, two godowns, a primary school and a high school. Many
households have access to electricity and almost all households
have the benefit of well drinking water.
The family is both the unit of production and
consumption in the village. Most land is tilled with family
.labour. Around one third of the families are nuclear families,
the rest are extended. The incidence of poverty is greater for
the nuclear families; 69% own less than an acre of land or have
no land-at all. Members of these households cultivate other
people's land on a lease or share-holder basis. The landless
usually work as day labourers.
Extended families have an advantage over the nuclear
families for some of their members can afford to migrate for job
opportunities outside the village. Those with large land
holdings (2.5 to 5 acres) lease part of their land to tenants.
They are also found to take greater advantage of the agricultural
programmes promoted by government.
The women of all income group households are engaged in
wide ranging activities. They have the typical household
responsibilities of a wife and mother; they are also responsible
for crop processing and storage, vegetable growing in and around
the homestead, and care of poultry and cattle. The crop
processing done in the household is complementary to men's work
outside the home and ads value to the farm produce. In addition,
in some fishing and weaving families, women are engaged in
knitting of fishing nets and weaving, and in traditional
handicraft production. On an average a woman in this village
works for 14 hours a day while younger girls assist elder women
in their work. The larger the land holding the greater the
workload for women. Some of the households in the upper income
groups employ maidservants on a permanent basis.
According to the law, a father's land property is
divided after his death in such a way that daughters get half of
what their brothers receive, the widow gets one-eight of her late
husband's property but one-fourth, if she is childless. However
. n.some cases they inherit smalle~-amounntso_.rrenounce claims.-on
property in exchange for protection and good relations.
Three different types of co-operatives in the village
provide opportunities for skill development and cheap credit for
home-based production activities, poultry and livestock raising,
and post-harvest activities, carried out by women (Begum,1989).
2.2.3 Household Production and Livelihood
The Study of The Household Economy
The concepts of household production to be pursued in
this section follow the Boulding tradition in going beyond
economics. Boulding (1968) is a person who made the distinction
between production which has use value and production which has
exchange value in the market. Both are important to households.
Types of Production and Livelihood Activities
The terms market and non-market production are proposed
to represent the two ends of a continuum of activities carried
out by households. A number of household activities, for
example, semisubsistence food production or food processing, are
carried out both for the market and for home use. The bulk of
production could be for home use or for grants to kin, and the
surplus for sale. Or, in other situations, priority production is
for the market; only the unmarketable surplus is for home
consumption. Figure 2.3 is a presentation of the whole
production or livelihood system of the rural household.
Figure 2.3 Categories of Household Production or Livelihood
Co-operatives INTEGRATION Collectives
--- -BY MEMBERS (non-profit or
Market Production is made up of those activities which
involve exchange of money, goods, or services, and immediate.
reciprocity (getting something in return which has equivalent
monetary value). The thinking which guides operations in this
economic sector is the logic of making profits.
Market production includes formal sector commercial agriculture,
business enterprises, wage employment, and the small-scale income
earning activities categorized previously as belonging to the
Non-market Production includes two basic types of
activities in the informal economy.
i) Subsistence and/or household production consists of the
production of goods and services by and for household members
which have the possibility of being replaced by market goods or
paid services when there is an opportunity. This includes the
production of food, fuel, fibre, livestock, handicrafts, housing,
furnishings, clothing, and another other material goods produced
for home consumption.
~.-..:';~:1 ~=',;,2~:- .:;:,:~;n r I- ;i..
1--.-- .'-;> r
It also includes activities and services such as the
unpaid agricultural work and domestic work (the farming, cooking,
meal service, gathering, transporting, cleaning, laundry, food
preservation and storage, child minding, and so on). The
production of these types of goods and service is called
"separablb" production by Beutler and Owen (1980) because it is
possible to separate the task from the person doing the work and
delegate it to outsiders or paid workers. If money were
available the goods and services could be purchased. People with
money can purchase services and processed goods.
ii) Social or inseparable production is another type of non--
market production, identified as home production and community
service in the above diagram. It consists of those activities
which cannot be separated or taken away from household members.
The activities cannot be delegated to paid workers because of the
human values and relationships involved in the activity (eg.
feeding the baby, helping at a funeral). Work is performed
because of human values and needs, not for a profit. Three sub-
- -categories-of-such -act-i-v-it-ies- are:- --- -...
intra-household (nurturing, child care, socialization),
inter-household (participation in ceremonies, mutual
aid and support, skills exchange, etc.), and
community activities (government self-help; political,
judicial, religious and informal educational services).
Household members are obligated to kin and to the community on
behalf of the family for participation in such activities.
Parenting and nurturing, and support work for kin and neighbours,
are socially and culturally assigned to families.
The term "reproduction" applied to women's work has not
been used in this manual. Economic terminology is preferred and
the term "human resource production." Other terms commonly used
and understood by economists are "human capital production" and
"human capital maintenance". The use of such terms may help the
domestic sector of women's work become more socially visible and
recognized as a part of the livelihood system.
The diagram (Figure 2.3) presents non-market work
above the line, market work below the line, with work in
cooperative and collectives in between the two. Group work on
the farm (helping with land clearing, planting or harvesting), or
in house building, is common in some parts of the world. These
may be informally organized and seasonal, as compared to
cooperatives or other forms of rural organization.
The household economy operates as a "whole" system just
as portrayed in Figure 2.1 for the "whole" economy of the nation,
but with different sets of goals and priorities. Women manage
multiple roles in the household economy (Okeyo, 1979).
2.2.4 Rural Households in the Context of the Ecosystem
The human ecosystem perspective assumes the economy is
one component of the socio-institutional environment.
Development theory is that all components of a system develop
together.' The economy is an interdependent subsystem operating
together with political, judicial, educational, religious and
familial subsystems, all of which have some rule-making power.
The diagram below (Figure 2.4) is presented here as a reminder
that the household system exists in relationship with the other
systems in the near environment. Note inputs and outputs.
The inputs to the household system are transformed or altered
by the system in order to produce outputs (eg. food that obtained
is transformed into a meal, information that is received is
transformed into procedures that can be followed).
Transformation processes carried out by the household
system are: communication, information processing, production,
cons-ump.tion,_mana.gjement, socialization, ,.-nuzturarnce and personal
care, recreation, protection, design and maintenance, human
growth and development. These processes are related to the
functions of families and households listed at the beginning of
A major function of the household system is to integrate
social, economic and ecological concerns, and to manage all
household activities for their own benefit and for the "whole"
ecological system (nature and its inhabitants). The farming
system is a part of the "whole". All are linked to macro
environmental systems which have an impact on them.
The Household Ecosystem
THE NEAR Inputs of matter/energy
ENVIRONMENT and information
Air, water, quantity and
quality of land
Physical and biological resources
for energy, production and
geographic and topographic
features; evolution and
.adaptation over time ..
Human Constructed Environment
Farms and farm inputs (seeds),
tools, equipment, livestock
Food, clothing, shelter,
household furnishings, equipment
political, religious, educational
laws, regulations, policies
technology, cultural patterns
language and social norms
Human Behavioural Environment
Extended family, friends, neigbours
Source: Adapted from M.M.Bubolz and M.S.Sontag, "Integration in
Home Economics and Human Ecology" Journal of Consumer Studies and
Home Economics, 1988, Figure 2, p. 8. Reprinted with permission
of the publisher.
Influence of Socio-cultural and Behavioural Factors
Men, women and children have different experiences,
within and outside the household system. They receive different
sets of inputs from the household and other systems which also
need to be considered. The diagram (Figure 2.4) does not show the
household subsystems and individual interactions, but they exist
and also have power to influence the household system and the
Socio-cultural and behavioral factors in a social
system or subsystem include the norms, perceptions, beliefs and
values which guide resource allocation by age, gender, class and
ethnicity. Individual characteristics are influenced by the human
behavioral environment of the household and immediate community.
Each person perceives only a small .fraction of the
options or the alternatives for choice available in life. Some
people have a limited view of what could be. They feel controlled
by family, by fate and social pressures and the local
environment. Others, at the opposite end of a fate-control
continuum, see themselves as able to control the environment and
change the events of life. Most people are somewhere in between.
Decisions about changing the allocation of resources are made
only in situations where there are perceived alternatives and
where risks are limited. Alternatives may not be possible for
the Indian peasants in Bolivia, described below.
Influence of Social Structure on Rural Households
Rural households need to be studied within their near
environments but also in the context of macro environments which
have an influence on the "whole". Factors in the near
environment have an immediate and different set of influences on
households that are within that geographical space or ecological
niche. Within the "whole" system there are structural effects
and discrimination based on race, social class, ethnic origin,
religion, politics, which interact with other variables.
A Case Study: Household Environments in Bolivia
In Bolivia, a clear distinction exists between the 62
percent of the population who are peasants of Indian origin and
speak only their own language and the 38 percent Spanish-speaking
who have ruled the Indian countryside, backed by arms, for
centuries (Kelley, 1988). At one extreme, the Indians are
illiterate and live in peasant communities in dirt-floored,
thatched mud houses and grow traditional root crops and some
garden vegetables for urban markets. At the other extreme are
the Spanish elite who have four or more years of education, live
in rural areas, but in European style.
The Amymara-speaking agricultural peasant communities
are located in the traditional heartland on high plateaus
surrounded by mountains. The Spanish live in small colonial towns
in a different ecological zone a highly productive valley with
_: ..... L_i~~
a more diversified economy. The economy includes subsistence
agriculturists, cash crop farmers, unskilled labourers, skilled
craftsmen, merchants and prosperous traders, and also clerks,
government officials and administrators (Kelley, 1988). The
geographic separation, ethnic and language separations, and the
separations in standards of living between the Indians and the
Spanish are enormous. In attempting to explain the difference,
Kelley concludes that "By the 1960's, class accounted almost
entirely for the vast gap between the Indians and Spanish"
(p.416). The Indians were born into poverty, the Spanish, into
privilege. The two groups live in separate ecological and
Class structures, structures of organizations and
institutions, and of families, tend to keep people in "their
place". Social and political mechanisms may not exist in
Bolivia, which promote choice or an equitable distribution of
economic opportunities, education and other resources.
2.3 ANALYSIS OF GENDER AND RESOURCE ALLOCATION ISSUES
A major critique of the modernization approach to
development was that it did not lead to an equal distribution of
resources and social benefits. The negative impact of rapid
industrialization, on rural women and girls, is often greater
than that on rural boys because of social values attached to
having sons and preparing sons for occupational roles. Girls
frequently drop out of school at an early age and are unable to
enter the labour force of the formal economy. Rural women have
been particularly disadvantaged because they are called upon to
sustain rural households through farming and through frequent
This section will first clarify the concept of gender,
then suggest some techniques for analysis of gender and resource
allocation based on the work of Overholt and others (1985) and of
.2.3.1 Gender Issues
The Concept of Gender
The use of the term "gender" as distinct from the term
"sex" is to put emphasis on the social differences rather than
the biological differences between men and women. There are two
sexes, male and female, but for the purposes of development work
there are two genders (masculine and feminine). Behaviours,
ideas and values that are considered masculine or feminine differ
by culture throughout the world.
A person is born with a particular sex and learns the
gender roles expected for that sex within their own society. In
every society there is an ideology about men and women and their
work. The society identifies "women's work" and "men's work" and
allows a different set of rewards and benefits for men and for
women. In many developing countries women's work in food
production is viewed as a natural extension of her domestic role.
Women's work in home economics and social work is viewed as an
extension of the "caring" role. Women often have difficulty
moving into jobs which are traditionally considered "male" jobs
(eg. commercial agriculture). Males are often ridiculed for
taking on female tasks such as preparing a meal, or caring for
children, or cultivating food crops.
Gender relations are sets of behaviours which are seen
as appropriate in every context, both inside and outside the
household (eg. husband/wife; farmer/homemaker). The experience
of women is that they are always treated as a gender category
* with a particular position in relation to that of males. These
S relations are visible in the sexual division of labour.
Gender behaviours are learned. They are culturally
specific but can change over time. In some societies the
separation between "male" and "female" is more distinct, while in
others, positions in the workplace, marketplace or on the farm
have not yet been gendered. Both men and women are allowed to do
the same 'types of jobs. Some cultures or religions place great
emphasis on gender differences (eg. Muslims).' Women's activities
and access to resources are tightly structures around their
identity as "female".
Development workers with gender awareness will have a
better understanding of the characteristics and obligations of
the client population and the kinds of programmes which may be
appropriate in a socio-cultural context.
The Division of Labour
Another factor to take into account when analyzing
...is.su es..of _gender. and resource.....alloca.tion is two forms of the
division of labour: 1) the technical division of labour and 2)
the social division of labour.
The technical division of labour is based on the
separation of production processes into independent parts, each
carried out by a different person or machine, or by a different
group of technical specialists. In complex systems, such as
farming, land clearing may performed by one group, planting and
weeding by another group, harvesting and storage by another, etc.
In house construction one group may do the planning, another
obtains the timber and constructs the frame, a third group does
the finishing work.
The social division of labour is an allocation of tasks
on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, ethnicity and class.
The bases for making the allocation are physical and social
characteristics of the people.
The technical division of labour has advantages and
positive effects on production if tasks are assigned to persons
with knowledge and skill. The social division of labour may have
negative effects if the most unpleasant and least rewarding tasks
are always assigned to the groups with the least power.
Socio-Cultural Influences on Allocation of Labour
According to socio-cultural traditions in given
localities certain tasks may be assigned to women (eg.
collecting, processing of primary products, cooking, child care),
others, with a higher status, are assigned to men (eg. hunting,
fishing, commercial agricultures. Some tasks are for senior
wives, others for juniors. Men with position (eg. village
headman, senior. brother) have certain tasks, young men and
children have the menial, less rewarding tasks.
Socio-cultural conventions such as women in purdah, or
women as homemakers may place limits on the opportunities made
available for women and girls outside the household. Other
socio-cultural factors influence women's allocation of labour as
well, such as:
Women's status relative to other persons in the household
child bearing and child rearing cycle and the
compatability of child care with other productive work,
dependency ratio in the household (number of infants,
young children and elderly requiring care),
household structure/ presence of older children, co-wives
or elderly women to share domestic tasks,
intrahousehold dynamics and agreement with respect to
allocation of labour,
extra-household power structures and the demand for
voluntary, communal, and other kinds of work,
A good policy related to providing support for small-
scale enterprise development or employment for women has to take
into account home-derived factors (need for parental care of
small children and the elderly), job based factors (provision for
training, credit and loans), social factors (cultural values,
health and safety), and so on, and provide appropriate community-
based or home-based resources to support women's livelihood.
Access and Control of Resources
The ecosystem perspective challenges us to consider
system-environment relationships and the hierarchy of social
systems within a nation state. Each subsystem in the nation has
an organization and a set of leaders with power to make linkages
beyond the boundaries of their own system. Power relationships
change, systems adapt, new alignments or linkages are formed in
order to gain access to and control of resources for special
purposes, also to gain access to the benefits.
A major concern in development programmes is the access
that rural people have to resources for carrying out their
activities. The means of access available to women and men
differ depending on the environmental situation and the type of
resource. Women and men in rural household form their own power
relationships and linkages inside. and beyond the household in
order to meet their goals. In addition, small groups form and
collaborate, in order to obtain resources and benefits.
'Access and control are two different concerns (Overholt
et al, 1985:7). It is possible to gain access to resources
without gaining control of the use of those resources. Women may
gain access to credit but may not be allowed to decide how to use
the credit. They may have access to land for crop production but
no control over the sale of the produce or the benefits.
An example from Ghana illustrates the lack of control
over land and labour by women in Southern Volta Region (Bukh,
1979). Before the introduction of cocoa, men were the main
producers of the staple food, yam, with their wives assisting
during weeding and harvesting. When cocoa was introduced, it was
planted on the best land and yam production moved to less fertile
land cultivated mainly by the women.
Access to and control over benefits is a separate
concern. Presumably the benefits of market production is
increased cash income but cash earned by men is not necessarily
available to women or the household.
Changes in the Means of Gaining Access to Resources
1) Traditional Means
A man or woman's means of gaining access to resources
have traditionally been through the family system or kin network.
The means were:
i) Inheritence: access to land, possibly housing and some
equipment, and financial resources
ii) Kin group or tribal affiliation: access to land for
cultivation and/or for housing; access to labour, to communal
pastures and water or to other resources which may be held in
iii) Marriage: access to land through ownership or usufruct
rights; access to labour of spouse or through reciprocal labour
exchanges; access to capital through bride price or dowries.
iv) Gifts or income transfers: access to material goods or cash
obtained through social rituals or from absent family members.
v) Social relations and reciprocity through co-operatives,
barter or exchange of: land, equipment, tools, labour, animals,
knowledge and skill. Mutual obligations with neighboring
households or extended family, formalized through ritual.
vi) Subsistence and home production.
A number of these means of gaining access through the family or
village system remain in place. Many of them operate to the
disadvantage of women.
2) Newly Created Means
New means of gaining access to resources may be created
by rural people themselves, by rural organizations, by government
and community agencies, and by business and industry in a market
economy. Opportunity to earn a cash income and to control that
income can be of enormous advantage to rural men and women. New
means of gaining access to resources are through:
trading and marketing,
education and training
.- .-..par-ti-cipation in small-scale-enterprizes ..
credit and loans/leasing and rental arrangements
government services (extension, health, literacy)
rural-rural and rural-urban exchanges
) migration/ travel/ mobility
political and religious affiliation
changes in the law
Education, changes in the law, in political leadership and
in the balance of power can change each person's access and
control over resources. Resource poor households and rural women
may lose resources and benefits while others gain during a
transition to a cash economy, unless deliberate intervention
efforts are made on their behalf.
Case Study: Changes in Land Tenure in Kenya
Traditionally the primary orientation to land in Kenya
has been in terms of subsistence, the right to use land for
cultivation, grazing, and ceremonial activities belonging to the
patrilineage. Until the initiation of the recent land reform
programmes, and throughout the colonial period, women, neither
individually, nor in groups, were allotted land, or legal rights
of disposition. A traditional practice "user's rights", however,
was preserved. Women, by virtue of their position as lineage
wives and daughters, possessed the right to use land for
.In pre-colonial times, in patrilineal and patrilocal
/ societies, land was the most easily acquired factor of
production. Labour was not quite so abundant as land, therefore,
marriage and female labour were of vital importance. Marriages
based on exogamy and polygamy generated positive effects on
agricultural production and productivity.
Colonial rule changed all this. Male labour migration
and the emergence of labour-intensive plantations, resulted in
the entire burden and responsibility of subsistence agriculture
falling on rural women. Towards the mid-1940's, rural areas had
distinctly become a women's, children's, and old men's society.
The most striking result of this, was a sharp drop in
agricultural productivity, and severe food shortages.
Colonial administrators paid special attention to registering
land ownership rights in men's names. Consequently, Kenyan women
frequently found themselves relying upon their men, who were
habitually absent from the land essential to women for supporting
themselves and their children.
. Th-elad__,re.fojrmlaws....in Kenya took. over where colonial rule
had left off. New arrangements in land tenure left women in an
even more disadvantageous position. In 1968 land tenure
legislation was more or less established. Land rights were to be
passed on to lineage members, particularly those who were male.
Even if women, as lineage wives, continued to exercise
cultivation rights, their husbands, and even sons, continued to
possess the right to alienate land. Another result of the land
reform programme was the emergence of private ownership over land
and land resources. The ultimate right to dispose of land passed
from a communal or lineage basis to an individual and private
one. According to the reform laws, land is being transferred to
an almost exclusively male-individualized tenure system leaving
no provision as to how women's access rights are to be defined
when the reform is completed.
Source: Tulin Onger-Hosgor "The Effects on Women of Land Tenure
Changes and Agrarian Reform," 1983 ESH:WIFP/83/12 FAO, Rome.
2.3.2 Methods of Analysis of Rural Households
The methods of analysis described in this section are
those which can help agencies get better acquainted with patterns
of activity and problems experienced by rural households. Baker
and Nelson (1985) present a number of theoretical models
including a gender role model. Beutler (1985) stresses the
importance of understanding the environmental context. An
activity analysis by gender can lead to a better understanding of
each person according to age, and the things they do.
Analysis of Activities
Good judgements about the kinds of programmes to be
developed on behalf of rural households cannot be made without
knowledge of household member's activity patterns. One means of
gaining information is through the study of the allocation of
time by men, women and children throughout the day and by season.
It is important to examine activity patterns by ecological zone
as well and the implications of the division of labour by gender
Basically four methods of collecting time-use data have been used
(McSweeney, 1979, Johnson, 1980):
1) the interview, asking respondents to recall activities and
approximate time spent on each, the day before the interview.
Usually questions are limited to a specific number of pre-
categorized activities of special interest;
2) day-long continuous observations of one individual or a
number of individuals who are close by, providing a complete
written record of all activities as they are performed throughout
3) random-spot observations of activities using a system of spot
checking individual and group activities at random chosen times
of the day, month, and year. All individuals in the household are
usually observed and each activity taking place at the time is
recorded and described;
4) the self-study or diary method, requiring each person to keep
a record of their own activities throughout the day for a period
of 3 to 6 days during a particular season or in more than one
season. This method is usually the method employed by literate
populations but can be used by illiterates as well if they learn
to use a check list and a system of symbols to keep records.
These methods are often combined in order to provide more
accurate or more descriptive information. The random-spot
observation method was used by Johnson (1980) and by Acharya and
Bennett (1981). It is likely to be the most practical and
effective method for gaining a comprehensive picture of
activities. Time allocation studies, however, can be time
consuming and expensive. One example of a study in Africa is
Case Study: Analysis of Time Allocation and Activity Patterns
in Cote d'Ivoire
The Ivory Coast National Household Food Consumption and
Budgetary Survey was conducted in 1979. In addition to the usual
nutrition oriented objectives for such surveys there were two
1) to evaluate household food consumption in physical quantities
and the share of home production in total food supply, and
2) to help understand the internal functioning of the households.
Who does what? Who is responsible for what? Who brings money to
whom for buying what? Who prepares the food and who eats it?
Whose field is cultivated by whom?
The sample included 720 households in Abidjan, 720 in
other urban areas, and 720 in rural areas. Rural households were
surveyed for one week, four times during the year, in order to
cover seasonal variations. Time-use data collections were
included in the survey with the objective of attributing a
monetary value to all work excluded from the conventional
definition of economic activities.
The activities performed in the homestead and lasting
more than 15 minutes were mostly observed by an enumerator who
was responsible for that household only, during the week. The
activities performed in his absence were recorded by recall
shortly after they were performed. Household members below 10
years of age were, unfortunately, excluded from the time-use data
The results presented in Tables 2.1 and 2.2 (taken from
the FAO Food and Nutrition Bulletin*) show activities from the
first quarter of 1979, in the rural areas only. This is the
quarter when agricultural work is probably at its minimum. The
data represents the activities of a total of nearly 41,000
person-days recorded for 720 households for about 6,000
individuals. Results show an unexpected household work burden
contributed by children and the elderly. Children 10 to 14 years
old, in addition to time.spent in school, work more than 2 1/2
hours a day. People over age 60 still work more than 3 hours a
day. The major share of this work is devoted to conventionally
defined economic activities.
The heavier work load of the female population is
constant: girls work 3 1/2 hours, and boys work just over 2 hours
on average per day. Females over age 60 work almost 4 hours a
day; males work about 2 1/2 hours on average. Children contribute
more than 10 percent of the time devoted to agricultural
production. They also play a relevant role helping women perform
their share of food-related activities, in water and fuel
collection, supplying the kitchen with food from market or garden
plot, and especially in food processing.
Another relevant point that emerged from the data was
the large share of total time spent by the rural population in
long absences from the village during this season lasting more
than a day. Males were absent more than females in all age
groups up to age 50. Females remain in regular long-distance
relations with relatives up to their old age.
According to the survey results, women in Cote d'Ivoire
worked longer hours than the men: nearly 7 hours a day compared
to an average of 4 hours for the men. Domestic activities .(140
minutes) and preparation of meals (2 hours) were the most time
consuming daily activities for women. Men dedicated an average
half hour only to such activities. Women were responsible for
wood and water collection, fishing, food processing, and
supplying the kitchen with food items by trips to the market or
garden. Gathering of wild fruit, nuts, green leaves, and
medicinal plants, crop processing and storage were tasks which
were shared equally.
Rural women in the Cote d'Ivoire study performed 66
percent of the work, 74 percent of the subsistence activities.
They contributed 39 percent to conventionally defined economic
activities and earned 17 percent of the household cash income.
External earnings came from sale of agricultural crops or small
trade, mostly in prepared food.
Source: Ann-Jacqueline Berio "The Analysis of Time Allocation and
Activity Patterns in Nutrition and Rural Development Planning"
Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 1980, FAO, Rome. Vol.6, No.l pp.60-
Table 2.1 TIME ALLOCATION (hours and minutes) BY AGE GROUP AND
SEX Rural Areas of Cote d'Ivoire, First Quarter, 1979
10 to 14 years 15 to 59 years Over 60 years
Male Female Male Female Male Female
work 1 h 47 1 h 47 3 h 35 3 h 17 2 h 12 1 h 45
work 22 1 h 40 40 3 h 45 22 2 h 12
activities 22 1 h 7 39 2 h 46 22 1 h 10
Cooking meals 0 min. 33 1 1 h 50 0 1 h 2
TOTAL 2 h 9
.Education- .... 2 h 30
activities h 36
on foot 42
maintenance h 6
leisure 6 h 41
Sleeping 9 h
3 h 27 4 h 15 7 h 2
..2 h 12
1 h 2
1 h 9
6 h 30
8 h 51
1 h 41
1 h 13
6 h 58
8 h 39
1 h 15
6 h 4
8 h 41
2 h 14 3 h
1 h 31
1 h 24 1 h
8 h 43 8 h
9 h 7 9 h
Personal maintenance = eating and personal hygiene
Source: A.J.Berio "The Analysis of Time Allocation and Activity
Patterns in Nutrition and Rural Development Planning" in Food and
Nutrition Bulletin FAO, Rome. 1980, 6(1):61.
Table 2.2 CONTRIBUTION BY SEX AND AGE GROUP ON PERFORMING
FOOD-RELATED ACTIVITIES (Share expressed in raw percentage)
Rural Areas Cote d'Ivoire, First Quarter, 1979
Age 10-14 15-59 60+ 10-14 15-59 60+
Sale of Non-farm
S Sale of Food Crops
Source: Berio, Op. cit. 1980, p.62.
Rapid Rural Appraisal
Rapid rural appraisal is a short-cut method for
collecting information needed for programme planning
(Chambers,1987; Longhurst, 1987a). In rural development,
programme' planners need information that is relevent, timely,
accurate, usable, and cost-effective. They cannot wait for
national sample surveys, nor detailed time allocation studies.
They may not find national surveys useful for local purposes.
The human ecosystem perspective requires data about a particular
locality and its people. As already noted, there are interacting
variables within one geographical location that differ from those
in another. The relevance of information is enhanced if it is
collected by locally based enumerators, near the time that it is
The following outline of principles apply to rapid rural
1.) -=Take.;tinme for- a preliminary visits and discussions. -
ii) Offset biases in the information gathered by talking to a
wide variety of individuals and various groups of people, not
only the men, the leaders or those who live near the roadside.
Visit at different season of the year.
iii) Listen to and learn from rural people.
iv) Use multiple approaches. The same questions can be
investigated by using different methods and cross-checking the
information. Consult existing reports, ask the rural people and
the target groups themselves, have rural people help collect
information about their own situation, use direct observation and
key indicators (eg. Observation of the type of housing and the
furnishings will indicate poverty level; observation of food
items available for purchase in the local shops and the market
will indicate level of purchasing power.). Use key informants who
have knowledge of the locality, and at other times, use group
interviews. Group interviews will encourage several people to
participate, express opinions and share information.
Select the best combination of data collection
techniques to suit the purpose of the investigation and the time
and money available. The survey method may be needed to gather
some types of information but the use of short-cut methods is
adequate for some purposes. Another advantage is that rural
people themselves can become involved in the data collection and
The Case Study Approach
Several case studies have been included in this manual.
It is possible for field workers, educators and students to learn
more details about the characteristics of household life in a
given locality by limiting observations to a few selected
households. Patterns of daily living can be studied through
participant observations and interviews within individual
households. Staff and students from Baroda University in India,
for example, studied women and their households in.two rural
villages in Gujarat State (Magrabi and Verma, 1987). The
following case study of a households in one village, written by
George (1987:92-93) relates to the allocation of money and non-
The Household of Kamala ben Natwarlal
This household consists of Kamala ben Natwarlal, sixty-
eight, her husband, seventy, her son, thirty-five, his wife,
twenty-nine, her grandchildren, two girls and one boy, and her
daughter, forty-two, once married but separated from the husband.
The household depends solely on farming for its living.
Kamala ben's husband owns nine hectares of land. In addition to
wheat, rice, and bajri grown for home use, tobacco is cultivated
S as a cash crop. The seeds are saved from the current harvest.
Livestock also adds to the money and non-money income of the
household. Kamala ben and her daughter-in-law add to the
household's real income by making wafers, savories, and sweet-
meats for home use.
Kamal ben's husband inherited the large two-story house
in which they live. He spent a considerable amount from his
savings to renovate it. The ground floor is used by Kamala ben,
her husband, and daughter for sleeping, and the first floor by
her son and his family. During the daytime, the whole household
uses the ground floor.
This household is economically better off than others in
the village. In addition to spacious rooms, the house has a
water closet and a bathroom. Water tanks are provided in the
kitchen as well as in the front yard. Fodder for the animals is
stored on the front verenda, where the animals are kept at night.
The front room is used for entertaining, studying and sleeping,
while the second room is used primarily as a storeroom for
mattresses, utensils, grains, and animal feed. The kitchen is
used for cooking and dining and for storing water, foodstuffs,
and the pots and pans.
The household has portable and built-in storage
S cupboards. Wall shelves, planks and racks are also provided in
/ the rooms. The kitchen has a small platform with base cabinets,
a feature that is unique in this village.
The household furniture includes essential pieces, such
as cots, a swing used daily by the family, and two wooden chairs
for guests. There is no separate dressing room. The furnishings
include a'minimum of quilts, mattresses, sheets, pillows, pillow
covers; also household linen.
A variety of foods consumed. Money is allocated both for
the provision of adequate food and for education of
grandchildren. labour is hired for maintenance and repair of the
house. This household makes savings regularly and does not resort
to credit at all.
Power to make decisions regarding finances is vested in
Kamala ben's husband. Kamala ben makes decisions regarding
household tasks. This household enjoys a better level of living
than the Rabari household and most of the other households in
Source: Rachel George "Allocation of Money and Nonmoney resources
by Rural Households" in F.M.Magrabi and A. Verma (Eds.) Household
Resources and Their Changing Relationships: Case Studies in
Gujarat, India. By permission of University of Illinois, Urbana-
Analysis of Case Studies
The case study above, focused on women within the
domestic domain of one household. Students could work in pairs,
each pair to carry out a detailed study of one, two or three
selected households in order to get a better understanding of
livelihood activities and resource allocation in certain
environments. An analysis of household activities with a focus
on one central women can be used to find out the network of
support she receives from others to perform various tasks.
Oppong (1982:145-147) suggests ,investigating four areas of
support (help from husband, help from kin, help from children,
help from others) for each area of responsibility: farming,
subsistence production, micro-enterprises, food processing,
domestic work and family care, community work, etc. The
technology system used in the household could be explored at the
1. Family and household are two kinds of social groupings with
interdependent economic and social functions which contribute to
2. Household members contribute individually and collectively in
performing those functions and in meeting the basic human needs
of each person in the household.
3. The socio-economic organization and composition of rural
households change over the family life-cycle and as a result of
changes in the micro and macro environments.
4. The economy is the set of activities and organizations for
producing, allocating and using resources which satisfy human
wants and needs at micro and macro levels.
5. The household economy is a micro-economy made up of sub-
- categories of livelihood act-iviti es.-producing.-goods. and.servi-ces.
for household use and for the larger social system.
6. The resource inputs available in the micro-environment of
households are transformed by the household system into outputs
with use and exchange value.
7. The social division of labour by gender and age means that
all working members of rural households participate in the
8. Socio-cultural factors and structures of rural households and
environments can operate as constraints or can facilitate the
ability of rural men and women to gain access and control of
resources needed for their development.
9. A comparison of household activity patterns by gender will
identify productive and non-productive activities with high time
and energy demands.
10. Rural people can participate in an analysis of their own
situation and identify the livelihood activities which need to be
supported or changed.
2.4 TEACHING, LEARNING AND EVALUATION
Seven objectives were listed at the beginning of this
study unit to guide the thinking and analysis of educators,
trainers and students. The teaching and learning suggestions
offered below relate to each of those objectives. They are not
the only activities which planners or trainers may choose to-
follow. Others may be substituted based on the target audience
and major goals to be accomplished.
2.4.1 Suggestions for Teaching and Learning
1. Contributions of Rural Households to Development
(a) Organize and conduct a debate on the topic: "the major
functions of families and households in rural areas are being
taken over by other organizations in the communities of our
country". Select two debaters to speak in class
and argue positions for and against this point of view.
(b) Discuss the outcome of the debate and other questions
Which functions are the most critical to livelihood and human
survival? Which functions are critical to national development?
Which family and household functions need support, and who needs
what kind of support from government and non-government agencies
in order to function effectively? Which, if any functions, can
be abandoned? Why, or why not?
2. Changes in Household Structure and Roles of Women and Men
(a) Study the case study in Section 2.1.1 about households in
rural Kenya. Describe two of the major changes in household
structure and the reasons for the changes. What changes in
household function, or in roles of women and men have taken place
in the Kenya situation, if any? Discuss in class.
(b) Collect information about changes in household structure in
your own country. Compare those situations with the ones
described in the case study. Discuss the changes and the
3. The Household Economy:
Transfer and Exchange of Money, Goods and Services
(a) Select one rural semi-subsistence household to study in
order to analyze its "whole" economy and the household's
transactions during one season of the year. For ease of study,
in large classes the household chosen could be one that the
students know well, possibly one of their kin. In small classes,
a field visit could be arranged with two students assigned to
each household to be studied. Records should be made using
the format below; students to list the major items produced or
acquired in the column on the left.
ECONOMIC TRANSACTIONS OF A RURAL HOUSEHOLD
students could make up their own chart similar
below. Then they can allow enough space for items
in the column on the left. Check ( ) what was done
in the other columns. They may put a check mark in
place, to show varied allocation of each item.
to the format
to be listed
with the item
more than one
Household Kept/ Given Other
Production Consumed Sold Stored Away Bartered Shared (list)
eq. cooked food/snacks
Child and family care
(b) Study the completed listing. Add up the check marks in each
column and discuss the extent of involvement of household members