November 2, 2012

2012: Highlight # 28

Popular perceptions suggest that farmers bear the brunt of water scarcity induced crop failure. Sahu argues that farm-households use women members for labor and consumption smoothing

Gender Equity, Water and Food Security in Drought Prone Areas

A case study of Odisha and Gujarat

Basanta K. Sahu

By focusing on water and food security in two different parts of the country, this Highlight attempts to understand some key issues on gender neutrality in group and regional contexts. It explores gender bias and neutrality in the impact of a drought or scarcity with particular focus on intra-household risk sharing. A total of 136 households were surveyed in four villages of Orissa and Gujarat, two tribal and two non tribal. Although women bore the brunt of the impact of a drought through shortfall in food availability and consumption expenditure, people’s perception and priority about water scarcity gave predominant space to the impact of crop failure on income loss. A household as a decision making unit tends to use women members for ‘labor smoothing’ and ‘consumption smoothing’ but without adequate availability and access to resources, existing intra-household gender relations continue to be heavily biased against women.

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