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Women‘s land rights in Gambian irrigated rice schemes: Constraints and opportunities

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Abstract

This paper discusses the significance of gender-based conflicts for thefailure of Gambian irrigated rice projects. In particular, it illustrateshow resource control of a gendered crop, rice, shifts from females to maleswith the development of pump-irrigated rice projects. Irrigation imposes aradically different labor regime on household producers, demanding thatthey intensify labor for year-round cultivation. Yet, the Gambian farmingsystem evolved for a five month agricultural calendar, in which women wereaccorded specific land and labor rights. The need to restructure familylabor, specifically skilled female labor, to meet the cultivation demandsof pump irrigation is crucial for understanding the pattern of gender-basedconflicts in Gambian rice schemes. The case study illustrates thatirrigation involves more than technology transfer. Appropriate irrigationdemands sensitivity to the social structure of household production systems. The paper concludes by emphasizing the centrality of gender issuesfor improving food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Carney, J.A. Women‘s land rights in Gambian irrigated rice schemes: Constraints and opportunities. Agriculture and Human Values 15, 325–336 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1007580801416

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