What happens after technology adoption? Gendered aspects of small-scale irrigation technologies in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania
This paper (PDF) in the Agriculture and Human Values journal complements the literature on gender and technology adoption, which largely focuses on reasons for low rates of female technology adoption, by shifting attention to what happens within a household after it adopts a technology. Diverse agricultural technologies are promoted to increase yields and incomes, save time, improve food and nutritional security, and even empower women. Yet a gender gap in technology adoption remains for many agricultural technologies, even for those that are promoted for women. Understanding the expected benefits and costs of adoption, from the perspective of women users in households with adult males, can help explain observed technology adoption rates and why technology adoption is often not sustained in the longer term. The paper develops a framework for examining the intrahousehold distribution of benefits from technology adoption, focusing on small-scale irrigation technologies. The framework contributes to the conceptual and empirical exploration of joint control over technology by men and women in the same household. The framework defines a bundle of rights: 1) Use rights; the right to use; 2) Management rights: The right to make decisions how, when and where to apply the technology; 3) Fructus rights: the right to the products, increase or profits of the resource; 4) Alienation rights: the right to encumber or dispose op property through donation, sale, destruction. In this study women hold management and fructus rights. Use rights seem to strengthen fructus and alienation rights. None of the women cited example of successfully negotiating for fructus rights. Efforts to promote technology adoption for agricultural development and women’s empowerment would benefit from an understanding of intrahousehold control over technology to avoid interpreting technology adoption as an end in and of itself.
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