Structural Adjustment and African Women Farmers

By Christina H. Gladwin; Center for African Studies University of Florida | Go to book overview

much to teach us about the factors which facilitate structural transformation. First of all, increasing prices to producers has made a difference, but it is not the whole story. Obviously this policy also needs to be weighed by planners against the hardship imposed at the other end, that is, to the consumers. Second, in the Orma case governmental institutional development appears to be crucial to the proliferation of trade and commerce, which finally took off in the mid-1980s to the point that it generated significant economic diversification. While many Orma are still terribly poor, their condition is somewhat improved by the new employment prospects afforded by this increasing diversification and division of labor. As the Orma experience with the tea kiosks indicates, such diversification need not exclude women, even in a Muslim society. The current decentralization initiative which the Kenyan government has embarked upon is but the most recent example of institutional change which appears to be paying off in the rural sector. Other African nations might do well to study this experiment.


NOTES
1.
Due to the large difference in household size between poor (8.1 persons) and rich (16.4 persons) households, it takes many more poor households to make up the bottom third of the population. The divisions represented here, however, are based upon percent of the population, not percent of households, as was the case in Ensminger 1984. This makes a significant difference in the analysis, as the richest third of households actually represents 50 percent of the population.
2.
The case I am making here, that increased real expenditures are a reflection of economic well-being rather than deterioration, does not contradict the argument made by others in this volume, that inflated prices have brought economic hardship to women in many areas as a result of structural adjustment. In those cases, income has not kept up with inflation, which consequently has lead to a real decline in consumption.
3.
A general note regarding the policy of "getting prices right" is in order. To the extent that government-controlled prices of grains are so low that they depress production (as argued by many, including Bates 1981), one must consider upon whom the resultant shortages are most likely to fall. In 1980 Kenya suffered severe shortages of maize flour, the nation's primary subsistence crop. While the proximate cause for this shortfall was drought that year, one could argue that had production been higher in good years, reserves might also have been higher. Equally, had prices been higher, black-market exports to neighboring countries might have been reduced. Whatever the real cause, it was clear in Tana River that year that pastoral areas, some of the nation's poorest, were some of the last to get grain shipments during times of scarcity. Within the district, it was the poor who

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