Academic journal article Journal of Rural Social Sciences

Livestock-Livelihood Linkages in Uganda: The Benefits for Women and Rural Households?

Academic journal article Journal of Rural Social Sciences

Livestock-Livelihood Linkages in Uganda: The Benefits for Women and Rural Households?

Article excerpt

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Livestock have long been recognized as playing a critical role in the livelihood strategies of rural households in Africa and Asia (Alary, Corniaux, and Gautier 2011; Ellis and Bahiigwa 2003; Meltzer 1995). However, only in recent years has attention shifted to better understanding the role of livestock within rural households, with an emphasis on intra-household gender dynamics (Chanamuto and Hall 2015; Quisumbing et al. 2015). While there is great variability across regions, it is increasingly accepted that women play a large role in managing and caring for livestock even when they are not the owners (Kristjanson et al. 2014). Women have also in recent years also been the main point of emphasis in agricultural livestock development programs, as key recipients of livestock and/or for training in livestock production (Kristjanson et al. 2014; Njuki and Miller 2013; Quisumbing et al. 2015). While scholars clearly understand that livestock matters for most of rural people in developing countries, the actual linkages of livestock-livelihood strategies remain poorly understood and there is a largely untested assumption that women and poorer households exist within the so-called "livestock ladder" (PicaCiamarra et al. 2015).

The concept of the livestock ladder holds that poorer households often own small stock and wealthier households own large stock, with the assumption that poor households can utilize livestock to build their asset base and overtime this allows poorer households to expand from small stock to large stock, in so doing climb the livestock ladder. From this perspective, those on the bottom rung of the livestock ladder will benefit from receiving larger animals, such as cattle. Utilizing four data sets, we want to test if the livestock ladder exists in Uganda. While development programs operate on the assumption that the livestock ladder exists, to date there have been limited empirical studies and, of those done, the results have been mixed (Njuki and Mbura 2013; Pica-Ciamarra et al. 2015). In this paper we examine the benefits of livestock ownership for women in both male-headed households and in female-headed households and if those benefits conform to the assumptions of the livestock ladder. Based on the existing studies (Kariuki et al. 2013; Njuki and Mbura 2013; Pica-Ciamarra et al. 2015), we hypothesized that we would find evidence of a livestock ladder both in terms of total and type of animals owned, with female-headed households and females in male-headed households likely owning fewer animals and more small and medium livestock.


Benefits of Livestock Ownership

Researchers have long noted that rural households benefit from livestock ownership in a variety of ways. Benefits include providing a meat and milk source for household consumption, as a fertilizer and labor source (draft animals) for smallholder farming, as a guarantee of cash, if needed livestock can be sold, as a source of cultural importance, and as a form of credit, which can be used to purchase agricultural inputs, for example (Alary et al. 2015:1638; Jodlowski et al. 2016; Meltzer 1995). The recognition by scholars of the diverse role that livestock play has increasingly been associated with the concept of "livestock livelihoods" in the social sciences.

The livelihoods approach emerges from the work for Sen (1981) to recognize the diverse ways that people, particularly in developing countries, make a living (Scoones 1999), as opposed to a narrow framework of measuring income or employment status. Generally, the livelihoods approach acknowledges the role of assets, markets, and institutions in people's lives. Assets capture more than simply income, instead referring to stocks of financial, human, natural and social resources that can be acquired, developed, improved and transferred across generations (Njuki and Mburu 2013 citing Ford Foundation 2004). …

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