Looking within the household: a study on gender, food security, and resilience in cocoa-growing communities

Publication date

23 Nov 2015

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Many West African cocoa households experience a ‘lean season’ before the cocoa harvest, leaving them vulnerable to various events and issues which potentially cause stress – most notably food insecurity. This study, relying primarily on qualitative data from Côte d’Ivoire, examines how income allocation and intra-household dynamics affect household resilience during the lean season. Its findings indicate that in contexts in which women and men’s income are separate and destined for different purposes in the household, the fact that men’s income is often earmarked for individual spending creates particular problems for households in the lean season. Women’s empowerment within the household is essential to improving intra-household resource allocation for resilience. In many contexts, this translates into development programmes supporting women to increase their production and ability to control income independently of men. However, a context of individual gendered agricultural production, and gendered spending obligations, such as West Africa, calls for a slightly different approach. Enhancing agricultural productivity is critical, but in addition it is important to encourage co-operation between women and men in households to result in joint decision-making in the interests of the household. This article is hosted by our co-publisher Taylor & Francis. For the full table of contents for this and previous issues of this journal, please visit the Gender and Development website.