Gender, social capital and information exchange in rural Uganda

Full citation: Katungi, E., Edmeades, S., and Smale, M. (2008). Gender, social capital and information exchange in rural Uganda. J. Int. Dev., 20: 35–52. – Established social structures, such as grassroots associations, have contributed to efforts at agricultural development in rural areas. By disaggregating the analysis by the gender of the household head, the study provides a detailed assessment of how differences among male and female heads of households influence information diffusion in rural areas. Results support the premise that social capital significantly influences information exchange among rural households, with evidence of gender disparities in the process. Female heads of households appear to be disadvantaged in their access to information related to agricultural technologies. Local associations have a higher effect among female heads of households while social institutions have a higher effect among male heads of households. An important implication from this result for outreach programs is that different forms of social capital may need to be accounted for in development programs. The results provide support for group-based approaches in technology dissemination. Since both male and female heads of household have the same propensity to join associations, this type of social capital should be encouraged. Strategies that promote gender heterogeneous groups may have a greater impact on information diffusion. Formal extension activity in the village stimulates information exchange, particularly among women that head households.

Finally, the direction of information exchange is also of policy relevance. Both informal and formal mechanisms for information dissemination appear to have a significant impact on a two-way information sharing. This warrants support for formal extension programs and community associations as two complementary mechanisms for information diffusion in rural areas. [Threats to Women’s Land Tenure Security and Effectiveness of Interventions – Annotated Bibliography]

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