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African Crop Science Journal
African Crop Science Society
ISSN: 1021-9730 EISSN: 2072-6589
Vol. 6, Num. 1, 1998, pp. 79-95
African Crop Science Journal,Vol. 6. No. 1, pp. 79-95, 1998

GENDER AND GENERATION: AN INTRA-HOUSEHOLD ANALYSIS ON ACCESS TO RESOURCES IN SOUTHERN MALI

HUGO DE GROOTE and N'GOLO COULIBALY^1

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, BP 08-0932 Cotonou, Benin; previously Equipe Systemes de Production et Gestion des Ressources Naturelles -Sikasso, Mali
^1 Equipe Systemes de Production et Gestion des Ressources Naturelles, Institut d'Economie Rurale, B. P. 186 Sikasso, Mali

(Received 3 April; accepted 3 December, 1997)

Code Number:CS98009
Sizes of Files:
      Text: 37.6K
      Graphics: Line drawings and tables (gif) - 125.7K

ABSTRACT

This paper analyses the differences of access to productive resources within the household of southern Mali. Information was collected through separate group discussions with older men, younger men, and women from six villages. This information was complemented with a formal survey of 96 households in 12 villages. It was found that the essential differences between individuals related to access are gender, age, marriage and being the head of the household. The head of the household, always a man, manages the common fields, but otherwise men have less access than women to private plots and to the gathering of forest products. They have, however, more access to animals, and own all equipment. Differences between ethnic groups are very important. Methodologically, an effort has been made to reduce age into categories of generation and relation to the head of the household, but generally these variables did not perform very well. For future intra-household surveys following strata need to be distinguished for sampling: heads of household, dependent men and women. Other influential variables to be included in the survey are age, ethnic group, marriage and participation in field work.

Key Words: access, gender, intra-household resource allocation, Mali, resources

RESUME

Ce document analyse les differences en acces aux ressources productives au sein de l'exploitation familiale au Mali-Sud. Les informations ont ete collectees a travers des discussions informelles avec des vieux, des jeunes et des femmes de six villages. Ces informations ont ete completees par une enquete formelle de 96 exploitations familiales dans 12 villages. Il ressort que les differences essentielles entre individus sur le plan acces aux ressources sont le genre, l'ege, le mariage, le faite d'etre chef de l'exploitation, et le groupe ethnique. Le chef d'exploitation, toujours un homme, gere les champs familiaux, mais d'une facon generale, les hommes ont moins d'acces aux champs personels et a la cueuillette des produits forestiers que les femmes. Ils ont cependant plus d'acces aux animaux et possedent tous les equipements. Les differences entre les groupes ethniques sont tres importantes. Du point de vue methodologie, un effort a ete fait pour reduire la variable ege en categores de generation et de relation avec le chef d'exploitation, mais la performance de ces variables etait faible. Pour les futures enquetes intra-menage, on retient comme groupes de sondages chefs d'exploitation, autres hommes et femmes, avec variables supplementaires ege, ethnie, mariage, et les participation aux travaux communs.

Mots Cles: acces, genre, allocation des ressources, intra-menage, Mali, ressources

INTRODUCTION

Early field research in agricultural economics concentrated on production analysis and thus, since the neoclassical theory of farm production considers the farmer as an individual decision maker (Ellis, 1988), the logical unit of study was the farm. In many rural economies, however, production and consumption activities are closely linked, and therefore both have to be included in the analysis in order to model and to explain a number of observed phenomena. Consequently, the household became the appropriate unit of study (Singh et al., 1986).

In recent years, it was realised that to use the household as the unit of research confines one to a model which is overly simple. It has been observed that not all individuals in the household have the same access to resources, and that they are not necessarily all interested in pursuing the same goals (Guyer and Peters, 1987; Wilk, 1989). For many areas of study, the household unit is therefore not convenient, and intra-household elements need to be developed (Haddad, 1994). It has been observed, for example, that in many societies access to productive resources differ markedly between members of the household (Feldstein et al., 1989).

In southern Mali, there are important differences within the household in access to resources. Given the many ethnic groups, agroecological zones and farming systems, research on intra-household resource allocation is mostly fragmented and limited to case studies (Bagayogo, 1985; Charles, 1981; Cisse, 1982). Some efforts have been made to bring together the information on this zone (Perquin, 1993, ) as well as for the whole of Mali (UNICEF, 1989), including some bibliographic studies (Verschuur et al., 1987).

Unfortunately for the researcher, the West African household turns out to be a large and complex unit. To include all individuals of a household would not only be impractical, it would also make for an inefficient sample survey design. A basic classification of household members needs therefore to be developed, preferably harmonised to allow for comparisons between surveys. Such a classification does not yet exist, and the need for it is clearly felt throughout the literature (Haddad, 1994).

Therefore, a research project was undertaken to examine access to resources within the rural household, covering the different ecological zones and the different ethnic groups of the area. Through informal and formal surveys the key factors that influence this access are analyzed, and a classification is developed for future intra-household research.

DESCRIPTION OF THE STUDY AREA

The climate in southern Mali ranges from sub-humid in the South to semi-arid in the North, with a pronounced rainy season of five to seven months. The region has a gently rolling landscape, with a typical toposequence of periodically flooded lowlands, major agricultural lands on the slopes, and less productive lands on top of the hills. The traditional agricultural system was one of shifting cultivation in a subsistence economy. Cereals were grown on the same field for several consecutive years, followed by many years of fallow to let the land regenerate. The population density, although still low, has recently reached a critical mass and pressure on the land is building. At the same time, cotton has been introduced as a cash crop, with the Malian Cotton Marketing Board providing credit and extension services. Population pressure and agricultural intensification are rapidly changing the region.

The Farming Systems Research (FSR) team of the Institut d'Economie Rurale has been studying this system and its evolution for many years. It has enumerators based in 12 villages of southern Mali, distributed over three agroecological zones: the South-West, the North and the South (see Fig. 1).

METHODOLOGY

For the informal survey, two research villages were visited in each of the three zones. In each village discussions, which followed a pre-established guideline, were held with three separate groups: women, young men, and old men. These discussions led to clear definitions of households, established the criteria to distinguish individuals, and regrouped those individuals within the household.

The formal survey covered all members of 96 households, distributed over the twelve research villages of the Sikasso FSR team. Age, gender, and relationship to the head of the household were determined for each individual, followed by their access to land, livestock, agricultural equipment and forest products, as expressed by the members themselves. In these questions it was asked if individuals had access to different productive resources. This access was defined as having the possibility or the option to have private plots, to own animals or equipment, and to gather forest products. The actual use of these resources by individual members, on the other hand, was measured by the annual survey of land use, possession of animals and equipment. No data on actual use of forest products were collected.

A logistic model is used to analyze access to land, animals, gathering and equipment. This model is commonly used with binary dependent variable such as adoption of a technology or access to resources and has following mathematical function:

                       exp (beta xi)        
     Prob (yi = 1) = -----------------            ...............  (1)
                     1 + exp (beta xi)

resulting in a typical S-curve which falls always between 0 and 1. Every resident household member older than 14 years forms one observation in the data set. The independent variables are sex, age, participation in field work on household land (binary variable), the generation to which the individual belongs (first, second or third), three binary variables for the ethnic groups (Bambara being the omitted binary variable), a binary variable for head of household, and a variable indicating the relationship to the head of the household in three decreasing categories.

Finally, actual use of the resources was analysed by using as dependent variables: size of individual plots and number of small ruminants owned. The same independent variables were used as with access, allowing for a comparison between access to and actual use of productive resources in this farming system. Given the truncated distribution of the dependent variable, with a larger number of people having no private fields or animals, a Tobit model was used. This model has a linear function starting at a particular value, and constant, usually zero, under that value. Mathematically, the model is expressed by

     yi = beta xi + ei    if RHS > 0       ................  (2)
     yi = 0        otherwise

Both models used are estimated by the maximum likelihood method.

STRUCTURE OF THE FARM HOUSEHOLD

Definition of household. According to the group discussions, it was found that farm households can best be defined as a group of related people who eat and work together, all of whom are descendants of one man, or married to a descendant of that man. This usually includes several married and unmarried men, brothers or sons of the household head, their spouses and children, spread over several generations. This structure is depicted in Figure 2. The head of the household is usually the oldest man, and after his death the oldest sibling or son takes over. Female-headed households are rare: widows usually marry their brothers-in-law or return to their own family.

The basic structure is confirmed by the quantitative data analysis (Fig. 3). All the household heads in the sample are men. On average, a household contains three sons and two daughters of the head, and more than two grandchildren. Most males (61%) are descendants of the head, most women are either descendant (42%) or married into the family (44%). This confirms the result of the informal survey that almost all members are descendant of one man or married to a descendant. In the households, very few cousins of the head are found, indicating a split of the household in the third generation.

The major criteria by which household members are distinguished by the villagers are gender, age and social position such as being head of the household or being married.

Agricultural resources. Agriculture is the household's major source of revenue. The farm household has on average 11.2 hectares of land under cultivation, more than half of which is under cereal production, mostly destined for home consumption. In the southern areas there are still substantial reserves of fallow, while in the north these are rapidly disappearing. The major cash crop is cotton, grown by three quarters of the farms, with an average of 2.43 ha per farm. Although produced on a smaller surface, the value of the cotton production is higher than the value of cereal production (see Table 1 for details, land under multi-cropping is split into equivalent area of pure cropping according to the FAO system).

Most farms of southern Mali own livestock, on average nine cattle and eight small ruminants (Table 2), and most have oxen and donkeys for animal traction. Since southern Mali is predominantly Muslim, swine are rarely raised and only by non-Muslims.

Criteria of distinction between households members. During the informal survey, in separate group discussions with women, older men and younger men, people were asked what was considered a household and how its members could be regrouped. The most important criteria to distinguish members with respect to access to resources were gender, age and being the head of the household. Other criteria to distinguish between women were: being married, preparing meals, and having a daughter-in-law to help out with the housework. For the men the major criteria are being head of the household and being married.

The survey villages comprise four ethnic groups: Bambara, Senoufo, Minianka and Samogo. From the discussions with the different ethnic groups, it also became clear that there are substantial differences between them.

In the quantitative analysis that follows, all the resident individuals older than 14 were pooled, and their characteristics were related to their access to resources. For reason of collinearity, sex specific characteristics, such as preparing of meals, could not be retained.

ACCESS TO RESOURCES BY INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS

Access to land

Land management. Southern Mali does not have private ownership of agricultural land. In the traditional land tenure system land belongs to the family that first occupied it, who can pass on the right to cultivate to other families while keeping property rights. Households derive land use rights from the ownership family. Due to the increasing pressure on land, these rights are more and more passed on from father to son when the son becomes head of the household. Most of the farm land is cultivated commonly by the farm household, whose head manages its production and oversees the spending of the income.However, individuals can cultivate some private plots and earn a personal income. These private plots are allotted by the head of the household, or obtained from the land holding family through mediation of the household head.

Individual plots and the income derived from them threaten the coherence of the extended family structure of the household: individuals might find their private plots more important and spend more energy and resources on them. To counter this threat, a set of rules has developed over time, varied and complex, according to geographic zone and to ethnic groups. In some of the research villages men can not have private plots; in others women can not grow millet, the major food crop; in other villages again, composed households do not allow private plots at all.

These rules and their origins are usually clearly understood by the villagers. They realise, for example, that private plots can be a first step towards the breakup of the composed family. Time to work on private plots is therefore limited, usually to two days per week. In another case, it was explained by the men that if a woman grows millet on her private field, this would allow her to prepare special meals for her husband or son. This would threaten an essential component of family cohesion: the common meals.

Access to private plots. The results of the informal survey are in line with the quantitative analysis, of which the results are shown in Table 3. Almost half the women have private plots, compared to 10% of the men. Women grow mostly fonio (finger millet), rice and sorghum (Fig. 4). Women aged 40-60 years have more private fields, and this is especially noticeable for fonio and rice.

Age difference is also important for men : most of their private plots are acquired after age 40. On these plots, the men grow more peanuts, maize and sorghum, but do not grow low-land rice. Neither men nor women grow millet on private plots. Women can only obtain private plots after marriage. Unmarried men, on the other hand, can have private plots, but less so than married ones. There is, however, no ownership of those private plots : the right to use still belongs to the household. Plots in the lowland areas, traditionally reserved for women, are often passed on to a daughter-in-law. The ethnic group also plays a role : Minianka men and women have almost no private fields, Samogo men have them but their wives do not.

The analysis of surface area of private plots is quite similar. Women have on average 0.23 ha, compared to 0.07 for men. In terms of surface area, fonio is the most important crop, followed by rice and sorghum. Compared to family fields, however, these areas are very modest.

Regression analysis. The first model is the logistic model with access to land as the dependent variable. This is a binary variable, equal to one when the individual has the option to have a private plot and zero otherwise. As independent variables are used: age, gender, if the person works on the household land, ethnic group, being head of the household, and relationship with the head. For the last variable a code was used representing relative closeness : the head himself (code = 0); a first tier of wives, children, parents and siblings (1); a second tier of nephews, first line in-laws, and grandchildren (2); and others (3).

From the informal survey, we learned that there are important cross effects : married women have quite a different position than unmarried women, for example, while this is not so much the case for men. Therefore, a cross effect woman x married was included. Similarly, cross effects for age with cooking and woman were included. Finally, the cross effect of different ethnic groups was examined on the impact of gender and on field work. The results are presented in Table 4.

The model explains 82% of the access to land. The major straight effects are age, participating in field work on the household land, cooking, and being head of the household. Dividing the coefficients by four approximates the estimation of a linear relationship (Maddala, 1983). Following this reasoning, a person has an increased access to land of 0.069/4 = 1.7 % for each year of age.

Gender or marital status have no significant effect taken individually, but do so combined : married women clearly have a higher access to private plots. From the different ethnic groups only the Samogo are significantly different : their individuals have less access than in other ethnic groups. The effect of ethnic group is felt mostly in the cross-effects : in the Senoufo and Minianka groups, women and people who participate in field work have relatively less access than Bambara individuals.

In a second model, the actual use of land, expressed as hectares of land cultivated privately, is used as the dependent variable. Since the data are clearly from a limited distribution, a linear regression would produce unbiased results, and a tobit model is indicated (Maddala, 1983). In contrast to the previous dependent variable, access, this variable represents to what extent people actually use their access.

Generally, the results are similar to those for access: age has a positive impact, and married women, women who cook and people who participate in field work cultivate more land on private plots. The major difference between access and use lays with the head of the household : although he declares to have access, he rarely uses it. In fact, he has little interest in private fields, since he already manages the production as well as the income from the household fields and animals. While the head of the household might not use his right since he has alternative sources of income, women might not use their rights when they face other constraints, especially lack of time. Since women do most of the work around the house, the care of children, cooking, fetching wood and water, and contribute to the household fields, very little time is left to work on a private field.

Animals

Management of animals. Animals, like land, are usually owned jointly by the family, formally under the name of the household head. Apart from some local restrictions, individuals are allowed to have animals, women as well as men. In practice, however, individuals are limited by their purchasing power. Women earn money to buy animals mostly through the sale of forest products, while young men can earn it through temporary emigration or the herding of cattle.

Privately owned animals can still be managed together with the household animals, as is usually the case with small ruminants. Private fowl, on the other hand, are usually kept separately. In general, newborns belong to the owner of the parent animal, though some systems have been observed where a male newborn animal goes to the head of the household, while females go to the owner.

Although individual owners are free to sell their animals and use the profits, women cannot customarily go to the market to sell animals. It is also understood that an individual has to help out the household with his or her animals if there is a need for food or for money.

Animal ownership. The analysis is confronted with a particular problem : in practice there is no distinction between household animals and animals owned by the household head, although a distinction is made between household animals and animals belonging to other individuals. It follows that the category Ôhead of household' has far more animals than the other ones (Fig. 5).

Table 5 gives the percentage of people who own animals, by category. It is clear that, apart from the head of the household, individuals have few animals, and women even less than dependent men. Minianka women have almost no animals, but Samogo and Bambara women have some goats. Goats are the most important ruminants for women. Their ownership is depicted in Figure 6.

Similar to access to land, access to owning animals was also examined. People were asked if they had the right to own cattle or small ruminants (other species were not considered). This variable shows a similar distribution (Fig. 7). Almost all household heads declare to have the option or the possibility to own cattle or small ruminants, while only half of the other men declare to have this right, relatively independent of ethnic group. Access to animals for women, on the other hand, is strongly related to ethnic background : almost half of the Bambara women have this access but only very few Minianka women have access to animals. Access to animals also increases with the age of the individual.

Regression analysis. The regression analysis (Table 6) shows that being the head of the household has the largest effect on access to animals, since this variable has the highest coefficient in the logistic model. This is not surprising since all household animals formally belong to him. Both access and ownership clearly improve with age and marital status. Being closer related to the head of the household also has positive effect. Participating in field work has a particular positive effect, but mostly for Bambara (cross effects with other ethnic groups are negative and for ownership larger than the general effect).

Women have less access than men, although this does not hold for Bambara (the coefficient on women is not significant, but the cross effects with the three other ethnic groups are).

Access to gathering. In the research presented here, only two forest species are considered: the products of shea nut (Butyrospermum parkii) and nere or African locust two tree (Parkia biglobosa), economically the most important and also the most readily available. These native trees grow in the forest and the savanna, but also on fallow lands and in the fields since there is a traditional prohibition against cutting them. Shea nuts are transformed into a butter, while nere grains are fermented to make a spice (soumbala) and its pods produce a flower used for human consumption. Forest products are the primary source of income for rural women (see also Giraudy et Niang, 1994; Sounkara, 1990).

The shea nut production belongs almost universally to the women. A distinction is made between trees in fields, whose production belongs to women of that farm household only, and trees in the bush, which any women can harvest. The butter is used for cooking, and the surplus is sold by the women. The production from nere trees in the field, on the other hand, goes to the head of the household, while all village women can pick nere from the bush. In some villages men can also pick bush nere, but sometimes only after the women have had their pick.

Quantitative analysis of access to gathering (Fig. 8) shows that the groups with most access to forest products are clearly women and the head of the household. Ethnic group is a major determinant here. This is supported by the regression analysis (Table 7), which also shows that participation in field work and cooking are also significant, but age and marital status are not.

Generation, on the other hand, plays a role: members of the first generation (the same generation of the household head) have more access than members of following generations. In the ethnic categories, the individual Samogo and Senoufo men have more access than the Bambara, but their women have less access.

DISCUSSION

Development Policy. Any policy or development programme to improve the living conditions of certain groups within the household, usually women, should take into account the specific access to resources of that group. The results of both informal and formal surveys here presented, show large differences of access to productive resources within the households of southern Mali. The essential differences between individuals are related to gender, age and being head of the household. Apart from the household head, other men have less access than women to private plots, gathering and equipment, but more access to animals. The most important external factor is the ethnic group to which the household belongs.

While men manage the farm household's common lands, women have more private fields. Men and women show distinct patterns of the crops they grow on their private plots. The ethnic group to which the individual belongs is very important : individual access to land is very limited for Minianka, but quite general for Bambara.

Most animals belong to the head of the household and individual ownership by other members is generally quite limited, especially for women. The number of animals owned increases clearly by age. For women, goats are the most important species. Ethnic differences are again important : Minianka women, for example, own very few animals.

Women have more access to gathering than men, with substantial ethnic differences. While access to resources generally increases with age, this is not the case for gathering, where all adults of the same gender seem to have equal access.

Research methodology. The present study helps to untangle the complex reality of the West African household, providing guidelines to improve the research methodology of intra-household studies. The recommendations especially concern the variables to be included and sampling strategies for household members.

A number of individual characteristics were shown to have a systematically significant impact on access to resources: being head of the household, age, gender, being married and participating in field work. These variables need therefore to be included in future surveys. The ethnic group of the household was also found to have a major impact on access to resources, although an overlap between different agro-ecological regions and ethnic groups has to be taken into consideration.

Methodologically, an effort has been made to reduce age into categories of generation and relation to the head of the household. Generally, these variables did not perform well, although the variables relationship to the head of household and cooking had a significant impact on access to land. A number of other individual characteristics such as number of children, rank of the spouse and others, were tested as independent variables in the regressions. Their coefficients were found to be not significantly different from zero.

For intra-household surveys in this region it is therefore recommended to classify the household members in three strata : head of the household, women, and dependent men. Including two people of each of the last category per household provides variability in the sample on different levels: within strata, intra-household and inter-household variability. Such a data set allows for the testing of hypotheses without exhausting the budget by interviewing each member of the sample households.

Applications. Insights gained in this study have proved useful in guiding the intra-household dimension in Farming Systems Research. In an earlier study comparing maize varieties and determining farmers' choice criteria, women were included in the sample and gender was shown to be a significant factor in determining criteria of choice, along with agro-ecological zone and household characteristics such as household size and ownership of animal traction equipment (Defoer et al., 1997).

The methodology developed in this paper was adapted and used in determining the role of women in cotton production (Dembele et al., 1996, unpubl.). Individuals were categorised according to age, gender, and being head of the household, and up to eight people per household interviewed. The results present a clear picture of time use, income and expenses of different groups.

The methodology was also used to study access to credit in the rural areas. Five individuals were interviewed per household : the head, two women and two dependent men. It was shown how access to and use of credit varies considerably among those groups.

Finally, the approach helps to better organise action research within the FSR approach. A typical example is the ongoing research to improve the productivity of low land rice, mostly grown by women. Test results show that yields can be substantially increased by applying a fertilizer and herbicide package. At the same time, yields are also clearly influenced by individual characteristics such as age and relationship to the head of the household, reflecting access to quality land and inputs. The understanding of intra-household relationships, and of the differences in access to land and to credit between individuals, helps the FSR team to propose a proper technology package. This does not only include the inputs, but also a credit programme to put them within reach of the women. To help the FSR team and credit organisations in establishing this credit program in a realistic and durable way, the results of the intra-household research provide them with the essential information

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Demba Kebe, the Farming Systems Research team leader of Sikasso; Toon Defoer, head of technical assistance; Oumar Traore, computer analyst; Mme Sanata Sanogo Kone, research assistant; the coordinators of the regional FSR offices and the enumerators for their moral and technical support. This study was executed within the FSR project of Sikasso, financed by the Dutch agency of development cooperation, DGIS.

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Copyright 1998, African Crop Science Society


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