Institutional gender mainstreaming in small-scale irrigation: lessons from Ethiopia

Achieving gender equality in irrigation can result in greater production, income, and job opportunities for both men and women smallholder farmers from diverse social groups, while building climate resilience in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ethiopia, national irrigation agencies, donors, and researchers have been assisting project implementers to mainstream gender issues into the planning and implementation of irrigation programs. However, although efforts to close gender gaps in irrigation have been increasing, little is known about how interactions among institutions at different scales may determine the success of gender-mainstreaming strategies. This study presents a qualitative analysis of how the interaction of institutions at multiple levels can shape the success of gender-mainstreaming strategies. Specifically, the study analyzed how institutions’ rules, roles, and capacities at state, market, community, and household levels shaped strategies in Ethiopia’s nine small-scale and micro irrigation development projects.