Substantiation of research
As gender roles in agriculture are locally different and context specific, women’s need for CIS will differ from those of men (Gumucio, 2018). Past studies identified gender inequalities in access, use and benefits of CIS with a suggestion to minimize gender gap (Mital, 2016; Clarkson et al. 2017; Stats4SD, 2017; Rengalakshmi et al. 2018; Gumucio et al. 2020). In the context of limited research on ways of engaging women to practical CIS, this study wants to address the gender gap by recognizing the site specific needs and capabilities of rural women engaged in agriculture and create access for and engagewith them inthe use ofCIS for CSA. The further aim of this study is to investigate howwomen engagement with CIS shapes their decision making in CSA activities for building resilience in agriculture of coastal Bangladesh.
A mixed method research approach was followed. The research was conducted in two purposively selected location of Dumki Upazila (sub-district) of Patuakhali District in coastal Bangladesh. Purposive selection is assumed based on research problem, time, budget and convenience of the researcher. In these unions, as part of the experimental design, 2 female farmers’ climate schools were established with the objective to tailor climate information service to the coastal female farmers. Each school comprises 50 participants therefore; total 100 was taken as sample. One female farmer from each selected farm household was taken as member of the climate school. Later in this context, the concept of CSA and CIS has been shared as decision support service. Data collection started on the 1st of December 2020 and completed end of December 2020. Data was collected through face-to-face interviews. A paperless interview was conducted using kobo tool box. Simple and direct questions were used. Four Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and 10 expert interviews were also conducted to triangulate the results. A separate control group 20 participants far away from the intervention group of the climate school was interviewed as a pretest of the questionnaire and for future comparison of progress. Kobo tool, Jupiter notebook, SPSS statistical software package and narratives were used to analyze the collected data.
Understanding female farmers’ demand also implies valuing traditional sources of information regarding weather and climate for farm decision-making. Therefore, study participants were asked to indicate the available information sources, the sources they usually use and information gap they have observed. When selecting the study participants, attention was paid on age, education level, involvement with agriculture and socio-economic conditions in determining group composition. Discussion topics of the FGD included exploration of their understanding on agriculture, climate related risks, their local farm practices (for example land use, crop choice, livestock keeping, harvesting and processing choice) for decision making and time slot they spent for farming. It was also important to analyze what are the current farming practices and how these are affected by weather and climate variability. Therefore, a year round farming activity calendar and a hazard calendar was prepared in a participatory approach together with female farmers. Participatory approach was followed because obviously these female farmers are more knowledgeable and experienced to tell about that.
Availability, quality and quantity of information sources were evaluated. The variability of the weather they experience and adaptive strategies they usually take were considered. The demand and access of study participants to climate information services was also assessed from the providers’ side through experts’ workshop (Annex-2).
Results so far
Results reveal that female farmers mostly rely on informal and traditional sources for decision making although quality of information, in most cases, was moderate to poor. The most sought information aspects were rainfall, flood, cyclone and temperature throughout the year and information on fog, especially in winter. With little preference to other media, mobile phone call, interpersonal media and text message in messenger/whatsapp group were identified as the most chosen communication platform. Despite challenges, we found that there is scope to integrate informal and modern ICT-based communication platforms for tailoring skillful and location-specific CIS in addressing gender gap. Female farmers need to engage in agro-climate information services to have a better access to usable information and climate adaptive capacity for improving food security in the Bangladesh delta.