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East African Hydropatriarchies: An analysis of changing waterscapes in smallholder irrigation farming
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Geography.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6811-304X
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines the local waterscapes of two smallholder irrigation farming systems in the dry lands of East African in a context of socio-ecological changes. It focuses on three aspects: institutional arrangements, gender relations and landscape investments. 

This thesis is based on a reflexive analysis of cross-cultural, cross-language research, particularly focusing on the role of field assistants and interpreters, and on member checking as a method to ensure validity.

Flexible irrigation infrastructure in Sibou, Kenya, and Engaruka, Tanzania, allow farmers to shift the course of water and to extend or reduce the area cultivated depending on seasonal rainfall patterns. Water conflicts are avoided through a decentralized common property management system. Water rights are continuously renegotiated depending on water supply. Water is seen as a common good the management of which is guided by mutual understanding to prevent conflicts through participation and shared information about water rights.

However, participation in water management is a privilege that is endowed mostly to men. Strict patriarchal norms regulate control over water and practically exclude women from irrigation management. The control over water usage for productive means is a manifestation of masculinity. The same gender bias has emerged in recent decades as men have increased their engagement in agriculture by cultivating crops for sale. Women, because of their subordinated position, cannot take advantage of the recent livelihood diversification. Rather, the cultivation of horticultural products for sale has increased the workload for women who already farm most food crops for family consumption. In addition, they now have to weed and harvest the commercial crops that their husbands sell for profit. This agricultural gender divide is mirrored in men´s and women´s response to increased climate variability. Women intercrop as a risk adverting strategy, while men sow more rounds of crops for sale when the rain allows for it. Additionally, while discursively underestimated by men, women´s assistance is materially fundamental to maintaining of the irrigation infrastructure and to ensuring the soil fertility that makes the cultivation of crops for sale possible.

In sum, this thesis highlights the adaptation potentials of contemporary smallholder irrigation systems through local common property regimes that, while not inclusive towards women, avoid conflicts generated by shifting water supply and increased climate variability.

To be able to assess the success and viability of irrigation systems, research must be carried out at a local level. By studying how local water management works, how conflicts are adverted through common property regimes and how these systems adapt to socio-ecological changes, this thesis provides insights that are important both for the planning of current irrigation schemes and the rehabilitation or the extension of older systems. By investigating the factors behind the consistent marginalization of women from water management and their subordinated role in agricultural production, this study also cautions against the reproduction of these discriminatory norms in the planning of irrigation projects.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University , 2015. , 81 p.
Series
Meddelanden från Kulturgeografiska institutionen vid Stockholms universitet, ISSN 0585-3508 ; 150
Keyword [en]
smallholder irrigation farming, local gender contract, landesque capital, common property regimes, dry lands, feminist epistemology, member checking, Kenya, Tanzania
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120591ISBN: 978-91-7649-206-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-120591DiVA: diva2:853702
Public defence
2015-11-06, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE2009-210
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Manuscript.

 

Available from: 2015-10-15 Created: 2015-09-14 Last updated: 2015-11-03Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Managing variability and scarcity. An analysis of Engaruka: A Maasai smallholder irrigation farming community
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managing variability and scarcity. An analysis of Engaruka: A Maasai smallholder irrigation farming community
2015 (English)In: Agricultural Water Management, ISSN 0378-3774, E-ISSN 1873-2283, Vol. 159, 318-330 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines the common-pool regime of Engaruka, a smallholder irrigation farming community in northern Tanzania. Irrigation is a complex issue due to water asymmetry. Water use is regulated in Engaruka through boundary, allocation, input and penalty rules by a users’ association that controls and negotiates water allocation to avoid conflicts among headenders and tailenders. As different crops – maize and beans, bananas and vegetables – are cultivated, different watering schemes are applied depending on the water requirements of every single crop. Farmers benefit from different irrigation schedules and from different soil characteristics through having their plots both downstream and upstream. In fact, depending on water supply, cultivation is resourcefully extended and retracted. Engaruka is an ethnically homogeneous and interdependent community where headenders and tailenders are often the same people and are hence inhibited to carry out unilateral action. Drawing on common-pool resource literature, this study argues that in a context of population pressure alongside limited and fluctuating water availability, non-equilibrium behavior, consisting in negotiating water rights and modifying irrigation area continuously through demand management, is crucial for the satisfaction of basic and productive needs and for the avoidance of water conflicts.

Keyword
Smallholder farming, Canal irrigation, Common-pool regimes, Non-equilibrium behavior, Tanzania
National Category
Agricultural Science Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-118821 (URN)10.1016/j.agwat.2015.05.015 (DOI)000359330000029 ()
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE 2010-209
Available from: 2015-07-05 Created: 2015-07-05 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
2. Local gender contract and adaptive capacity in smallholder irrigation farming: a case study from the Kenyan drylands
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Local gender contract and adaptive capacity in smallholder irrigation farming: a case study from the Kenyan drylands
2015 (English)In: Gender, Place and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, ISSN 0966-369X, E-ISSN 1360-0524, Vol. 22, no 5, 644-661 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article presents the local gender contract of a smallholder irrigation farming community in Sibou, Kenya. Women's role in subsistence farming in Africa has mostly been analyzed through the lens of gender division of labor. In addition to this, we used the concept of ‘local gender contract’ to analyze cultural and material preconditions shaping gender-specific tasks in agricultural production, and consequently, men's and women's different strategies for adapting to climate variability. We show that the introduction of cash crops, as a trigger for negotiating women's and men's roles in the agricultural production, results in a process of gender contract renegotiation, and that families engaged in cash cropping are in the process of shifting from a ‘local resource contract’ to a ‘household income contract.’ Based on our analysis, we argue that a transformation of the local gender contract will have a direct impact on the community's adaptive capacity climate variability. It is, therefore, important to take the negotiation of local gender contracts into account in assessments of farming communities' adaptive capacity.

Keyword
local gender contract, climate variability, East African drylands, smallholder irrigation farming, gendered adaptive capacity
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-101283 (URN)10.1080/0966369X.2014.885888 (DOI)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Available from: 2014-03-03 Created: 2014-03-03 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
3. Hydropatriarchies and landesque capital: a local gender contract analysis of two smallholder irrigation systems in East Africa
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Hydropatriarchies and landesque capital: a local gender contract analysis of two smallholder irrigation systems in East Africa
2015 (English)In: Geographical Journal, ISSN 0016-7398, E-ISSN 1475-4959, Vol. 181, no 4, 388-400 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Water is a natural resource whose control for productive purposes is often in the hands of men. Societies grounded on such unequal gender relations have been defined ‘hydropatriarchies’. Against this background, this paper presents a gender analysis of landscape investments, conceptualised as landesque capital in smallholder irrigation farming in East Africa. Based on the analysis of how local gender contracts are negotiated, I argue that as processes of landesque capital formation are often explicitly gendered, attentiveness to gender dynamics is required to fully understand such practices. Moreover, as investments in landesque capital, for example, irrigation, terracing and drainage systems, have primarily been conceptualised as the result of men's systematic work, this study highlights women's contributions to the creation of landesque capital, taking smallholder irrigation as an example. Findings show that a distinction between ‘incremental’ and ‘systematic’ change (Doolittle 1984; Annals of the Association of American Geographers 74 124–37) is central to understanding the gender dynamics of landesque capital investment, but it is not sufficient. As women's work processes are typically not systematic, possibly promoting incremental change, they contribute to the production of landesque capital by supporting and facilitating men's work. However, the work of women is, as a rule, homogenised and stereotypically rendered as reproductive and secondary, due to the underlying cultural norms that limit, control or exploit women. This conceptualisation, or rather lack of, I argue, risks leading to a gender-blind analysis of land use intensification processes. Building on the gendered and symbolic nature of landesque capital, I propose a local gender contract analysis that integrates the cultural, symbolic and physical dimensions of the local gender division of labour into agricultural work and landscape change processes.

Keyword
Kenya, Tanzania, landesque capital, local gender contract, smallholder irrigation farming
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-105853 (URN)10.1111/geoj.12102 (DOI)000364648300008 ()
Projects
Current expansion and past dynamics of small-holder irrigation farming in African dry-lands, measuring landscape, labor and climate interactions
Funder
Swedish Research Council, SWE2009-210
Available from: 2014-07-07 Created: 2014-07-07 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. Member checking: a participatory method to test and analyze preliminary results in cross-cultural, cross-language research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Member checking: a participatory method to test and analyze preliminary results in cross-cultural, cross-language research
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Participation and reflexivity have become buzzwords that are seldom discussed in terms of their practical employment. Against this backdrop, with a specific focus on geography, this article presents and analyzes the advantages and limitations of a methodological tool that seeks to enhance both reflexivity and participation. The tool was a pamphlet written in local languages that contained several pictures and summarized the data gathered in previous fieldwork sessions. This tool was used in a four-year research project on the gender division of labor in smallholder irrigation farming in Kenya and Tanzania. The pamphlet showed participants their contributions to the research process and offered them the opportunity to correct, improve and further discuss previously collected data. It not only ensured research validity but also allowed for a shift in the research power hierarchy. Finally, the pamphlet effectively created a space for inclusion, discussion and reciprocal learning, leading to collective reflexivity and catalytic validity by empowering participants and re-orienting the researcher. 

Keyword
member checking, cross- cultural cross-language research, feminist epistemology, East Africa, pamphlets, smallholder farming
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120599 (URN)DOI: 10.1177/1468794115606495 (DOI)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE2009-210
Available from: 2015-09-15 Created: 2015-09-15 Last updated: 2015-12-01
5. Situated knowledge in cross-cultural, cross-language research: a collaborative reflexive analysis of researcher, assistant and participant subjectivities
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Situated knowledge in cross-cultural, cross-language research: a collaborative reflexive analysis of researcher, assistant and participant subjectivities
2014 (English)In: Qualitative Research, ISSN 1468-7941, E-ISSN 1741-3109, Vol. 15, no 4, 489-505 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article analyzes situated knowledge through the lens of the author and her three field assistants. This work is written self-reflexively and is based on geographical fieldwork in Eastern Africa. It seeks to capitalize on the personal and professional relationships of the researcher and her field assistants to improve both research outcomes and working arrangements. Reflecting on episodes of failure, anxiety and misunderstanding, it disentangles the power geometry of situated knowledge and sheds light on the vital role played by the assistant/interpreter and by his/her positionality ‘in the making’ of cross-cultural, cross-language research. Grounded in a feminist epistemological perspective, this article shows that methodological reflexivity should engage not only the researcher or the participants but also the field assistants. This praxis is crucial to enhancing the validity of studies conducted in a cross-cultural, cross-language environment across social science.

Keyword
cross-cultural cross-language research, feminist epistemology, field assistant, positionality, power, reflexivity, situated knowledge
National Category
Human Geography
Research subject
Geography with Emphasis on Human Geography
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-106014 (URN)10.1177/1468794114543404 (DOI)000357790700005 ()
Projects
Current expansion and past dynamics of small-holder irrigation farming in African dry-lands, measuring landscape, labor and climate interactions
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SWE2009-210
Available from: 2014-07-18 Created: 2014-07-18 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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