«Deborah Duveskog Faculty of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Department of Urban and Rural Development Uppsala Doctoral Thesis Swedish ...»
8.3.3 Analysis of secondary data Secondary data generated from interviews with key informants (FFS facilitators, FFS network officials, project managers, government officials) and FFS groups or individuals where no tape recording was done and through direct observation was documented through handwritten notes. The stakeholder workshops undertaken in each country where variables for measurements of empowerment were developed was documented through workshop reports.
Secondary data reviewed and analyzed in the form of policy documents, extension management guidelines and procedures at the local and national levels as well as background materials about the bio-physical, socio-economic and cultural contexts in the various study sites were also analyzed through handwritten notes. These written notes provided a valuable source of additional information for triangulation of data generated by other means during the research.
9 Main findings
The findings of this thesis are presented in detail in the four published papers I, II, III and IV attached to this thesis. What follows below is a summary of key content of the findings. It is important to note however that this summary does not replace the papers and readers are encouraged to read the full papers for a much more in-depth description of the research findings including valuable quotations from qualitative data and statistical presentation of quantitative data.
In the below summary the findings have been categorized in four thematic areas, relating to the overall research questions and to the papers; 1) change in everyday life among participants; 2) Changing traditions, gender roles, and community relationships; 3) relationship between FFS, empowerment and well-being and 4) the fostering of transformative learning. Finally suggestions for areas of further research are outlined.
9.1 Change in everyday life among participants The qualitative research carried out in Kakamega, Kenya, revealed significant impacts demonstrated in aspects such as personal transformation, changes in gender roles and relations, customs and traditions, and community relations, and an increase in household economic development, presented in paper I.
What follows below is a brief summary of these findings with particular emphasis on changes at individual level among participants.
Several interviewees shared the information that they had experienced significant improvements in their well-being as a consequence of joining FFS.
To appreciate this change and the nature of the transformation, it was important to establish how they made sense of their lives prior to FFS. Well-being prior to FFS was described in terms of quality of life, the ability to sustain a livelihood and overall self-worth. Many interviewees were food-insecure before joining FFS and unable to nourish and protect their families adequately, and felt that they lacked the power to rectify their situations. Some were trapped in a cycle of having to work for other people’s farms as to earn immediate cash, thereby neglecting their own farm. Farmers’ inability to improve their quality of life was inextricably linked to their own selfperceptions and most significant here was the lack of confidence found among participants, which was associated with an avowed sense of fatalism and a verbal lack of active engagement with the work of living productively.
Frustration over their livelihoods and aspirations for a better life ultimately became the key motivators for joining FFS.
Participants clearly stated that they had acquired benefits from participation in FFS in terms of instrumental learning and skills such as adopting more effective agricultural techniques and the application of new skills on their farms. Participants explained that a shift had taken place in mentality from subsistence farming and providing for the day to a more planned and marketoriented agriculture. This included a shift away from haphazard unplanned behaviour, recognising that effective farming requires short- and long-term planning, record keeping, staying abreast of effective farming practices and the importance of sustained and regular farm management. Daniel, one of the study respondents, explained: “Previously we were just farming carelessly, but now we are farming for business’. While previously some participants seemed to rely more on tradition for enterprise selection, after FFS they were able to identify enterprises that had an economic value, this was often attributed to the learning of record keeping in FFS.
Individual transformation (e.g. significant individual change) found among FFS participants was reflected in an increase in confidence, greater individual agency, a stronger work ethic and commitment to farming, an improved outlook on life, and a greater emphasis on planning and analysis in farming.
The farming skills gained increased not only the confidence in farming practices but created a feeling of confidence in the role of being a farmer.
Shyness was also often overcome, for instance, the secretary of an FFS group and a 32-year-old farmer trying to make a living for his family of a wife and three children on his 1.5-acre plot, stated: ‘I have gained personality, I have input to the group and my family at large, I can stand and express myself.’ Directly linked to the increase in confidence among participants was a greater sense of individual agency that was reflected in several ways, involving taking the initiative and being prepared, for example in terms of planting early to catch the first rains, acquire seeds well in advance etc. Individual agency also emerged in terms of confidence in the questioning of authority. An additional indicator of the transformations wrought by FFS members was a stronger work ethic and a greater commitment to farming and to their work. This was reflected in some of the FFS participants’ change from idleness to individual agency and the development of a greater work ethic. This change in work ethic experienced by FFS members was mentioned as compatible with the ideals preached by the church. For example, FFS encourages hard workers, just as God does. Several participants interviewed stated that they had experienced greater acceptance by the church after joining FFS, giving them a feeling of being closer to God.
Participants, especially among men, expressed a stronger work ethic, as well as a commitment to farming and their work. In a number of cases, men or their wives mentioned reduced drinking and loitering by men following reengagement in farming activities, and increase motivation in developing their farm enterprises. For example, Stephen, a 50-year-old man with no schooling and eight children, stated; ‘Through the FFS I learned that pleasure and leisure are a waste of time, so I’ve cut all those and concentrate on my farming activities because that has economic value’. Along with a significant increase in their work ethic, participants also reported an improved outlook on life as a result of participating in FFS, manifested in a sense of greater optimism about farming and happiness and pride in their agricultural achievements.
Through the interviews, it became apparent that a general belief among men is that women are not capable of thinking and reasoning in the same way as men. This belief had started to change through the relationships developed among men and women in FFS. It seemed it was not only the men who started seeing women as more equal; women also shared the feeling of overlooking or giving little attention to the differences across gender.
The study showed that, despite the recent move towards the modernization of lifestyles, farming practices in Kakamega are still very closely connected to traditional beliefs and taboos, many of which are gender-based. Among traditional beliefs mentioned by participants were that men should not grow vegetables, women cannot plant trees or bananas, sweet potato should be planted by women only, and women should not eat eggs or chicken meat. The breaking of some of these taboos was connected with a high level of fear that kept people from challenging these practices.’ By being able to experiment with ‘forbidden’ practices in the safe space that the FFS provides, participants’ beliefs were found to be changing when realizing the cause-effect impact of farm management actions and that there were no consequences of carrying out taboo tasks. Sarah mentioned, “I saw so and so do it and nothing happened, so you say now let me do it also.” The above findings indicate that the participants in FFS experienced a change in perspective as a result of their participation in the group, reflected by a significant shift in how they made sense of farming practices and of their lives in general. This shift did seem of a profound nature and similar to what in transformative learning theory is referred to as perspective transformation (Mezirow 2000). The shift was established in what Kegan (2000) refers to as an epistemological shift, a shift in their way of knowing reflected in greater reliance on planning and analysis in their farming and daily activities. Further affirming this shift is the questioning by participants of previously held assumptions in terms of taboos and cultural beliefs for explaining farming successes and failures and their replacement by greater reliance on empiricism in informing farming practices. This questioning of assumptions is also indicative of critical reflection, a core element in transformative learning (Mezirow, 2000). Participants also demonstrated a shift in ways of knowing indicative of what Lange refers to as an ontological shift in world view, the transformation of “an ontological process where participants experience a change in their being in the world including their forms of relatedness” (Lange 2004, p. 137). This relates to individuals’ purposefulness, a sense of having greater meaning and direction in life. Considering the profound changes demonstrated the study concludes that FFS does appear to be a learning experience of transformative nature for a large number of its participants.
9.2 Changing traditions, gender roles, and community relationships The initial study and paper of changes in everyday life among FFS participants generated such large amount of data related to gender relations that this became scope for a result area and paper on its own, originally not envisaged.
This demonstrates the importance of gender in the FFS experience where approximately 60% of participants are women and 40% men (in the study areas), of varying ages, but with a majority of members between 25 and 45 years of age. The qualitative research carried out in Kakamega Kenya revealed seven definitive categories about how men and women related to one another in FFS, how their views were impacted by the collective experience, and the impact this had on the household and their daily lives. Each category is discussed inclusive of rich and descriptive data from interviews and observations in paper II. Participatory observations over the course of the research period revealed a changing dynamic during the FFS group period where over time men and women felt more at ease to interact with each other in a manner more relaxed than normally the case among adult individuals of the opposite sex. This was enforced by the FFS structure that mandates rotation and equal sharing of all roles during sessions independent of sex, with the exception of leadership positions, which were democratically elected and tended to me held by men apart from the post of treasurer, often held by a woman.
Gendered roles and habits, based on perceptions of who should be doing what kinds of duties in the community or household, were gradually starting to change according to members, and FFS seemed to have contributed to this.
Many of these changes relate to household or farming chores or workload and sometimes involved individuals stepping over strong cultural barriers such as men helping out in the kitchen or fetching firewood. Many respondents reported an increase in women being breadwinners in the household and contributing economically to the upkeep of the family, something coming as a surprise to some men such as Titus mentioning ‘It was assumed that women do not have any mind to organize themselves along economic lines’. Titus wife explained how she now thought of herself playing the role of a man as well as a woman, instead of just waiting. This increased responsibility for the household economy taken up by many women seemed not to be taken as a threat by men but rather seen as a relief. In fact many men stated it was a burden that was often too heavy to carry, being the one that the family depends on for its survival, this being a reason why many men turned to alcohol for stress relief.
The study results also showed a trend towards increased acceptance of friendships across gender lines, where married men and women could interact more freely with fellow farmers regardless of which gender they were, something earlier not accepted due to restrictions in talking to wife’s of other men. This had made it easier to exchange advice among neighbouring farmers.
FFS members refer to how the collaborative learning in FFS has induced relationship changes in the spousal unit in terms of increased collaboration and joint decision-making between husband and wife. This was especially the case in relation to farming practices applied but also transferred to other areas of the family unit. This is also often referred to as something new and a change from a culture in which the man takes the most decisions. Jafeth, a 53-year-old man with two wives and seven children stated “FFS brings men and women together to share our ideas, and once we reach a solution we now implement it as our own, now we own it together.” The group discussion in FFS was referred to as a place where participants learn how to engage in more discussion at the household level. Participants refer to how ‘noise’ (arguments and quarrels between man and wife) in the household has declined following FFS participation, and how there now is more peace in the home. Many members say there is less stress and noise at home due to the increase in incomes, but also because of the more equal balance of power that is created when both partners contribute to the upkeep of the family. Much of the noise mentioned seems to be consequence of financial stress and of conflicting priorities in the household. By both parties contributing to the household economy, there is less criticism from women that their husbands are not living up to their responsibilities and not carrying their weight in the household.