The GEM solution
In many developing countries power imbalances between different market actors, or environmental risks (such as drought, flooding or climate change), can prevent marginalised smallholders from accessing and thriving within their local or national agricultural market economies. Entrenched gender inequality means that women find it especially hard to gain positions in markets, especially within the more profitable activities around processing and trading.
The GEM solution
The real value of the GEM programme is that, for the first time, we are consolidating our considerable experience and expertise across three critical areas affecting enterprise and market system development. This will significantly improve the impact and scale of our work with marginalised smallholders.
The three critical areas are:
1. Power in markets For over 20 years, Oxfam has been developing approaches to address power imbalances between smallholders and other agricultural market actors. Working collectively increases the power of smallholders and so we support the organisational development of community groups, business enterprises, co-operatives, and unions. We also facilitate multi-stakeholder platforms, to influence local and national government, private sector companies, and other market actors, by
showing both the specific and wider socio-economic benefits of investment in smallholder agriculture.
2. Women's economic leadership (WEL): Since 2008, Oxfam has been developing a methodology for programme design to better identify and address power imbalances between men and women in agricultural markets. WEL is about selecting market sub-sectors, or roles, that have the most potential to increase women's power in market activities, as well as at a household and community level. WEL promotes gender
equality in economic decision-making and roles for smallholder women that go beyond production, into more profitable and less risky market activities.
3. Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction: For many years, Oxfam has worked with smallholder communities to help them set up their own systems to identify, assess, monitor, mitigate, respond or adapt to environmental risks such as natural disasters (eg floods, or drought) and, more recently, longer-term gradual changes caused by climate change (eg temperature increase or decrease in rainfall).
Since smallholders' limited assets are vulnerable to environmental changes, participating in agricultural markets can be a risky business if existing, or emerging, hazards are not adequately addressed (eg appropriate crop selection based on information about climate changes, or vulnerability to disasters).