Discussion Paper 1653: Does Providing Agricultural and Nutrition Information to Both Men and Women Improve Household Food Security? Evidence from Malawi

Malawi is among the countries in Africa south of the Sahara where millions of smallholder farmers rely on agriculture to ensure their families’ livelihoods, yet low land productivity, inadequate agricultural inputs, labor limitations, and erratic rains translate into widespread food shortages, hunger, and poverty. Particularly in Malawi, poverty, food insecurity, and undernutrition remain significant problems despite recent improvements in national food security and economic growth.

A new IFPRI Discussion Paper,  co-authored by Catherine Ragasa, Noora-Lisa Aberman, and Cristina Alvarez Mingote, examines the role of gender in various pathways to food security in Malawi, emphasizing improved access to agriculture and nutrition information along these pathways and considering the implications of gender targeting for agriculture and nutrition extension services. The authors propose a gendered typology of households: those with both male and female adults, those with only adult males, and those with only adult females. A mixed-methods approach of sequential quantitative-qualitative data collection, consisting of focus group discussions in eight districts and nationally representative household and community surveys was used. The results show that food insecurity is highest in male-only households. In dual-adult households, in which women are frequently tasked with attending training and meetings but have little power to implement lessons, joint access to information is a more powerful driver of food security than women’s access.

By: Catherine Ragasa, Noora-Lisa Aberman and Cristina Alvarez Mingote, 2017

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