What Happens after Technology Adoption? Gendered Aspects of Small-Scale Irrigation Technologies in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania

A wide range of agricultural technologies are promoted to increase or stabilize yields and incomes, improve food security or nutrition, and even empower women. Yet a gender gap in adoption remains for many agricultural technologies, even for those that are promoted for women. This paper complements the gender and technology adoption literature by shifting attention to what happens after adoption of a technology. Understanding the expected benefits and costs of adoption from the perspective of women users can help explain the technology adoption rates that are observed and why technology adoption is often not sustained in the longer term. Drawing on qualitative data from Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania, this paper develops a framework for examining the intrahousehold distribution of benefits from technology adoption, focusing on small-scale irrigation technologies. The framework contributes to the conceptual and empirical exploration of jointness in control over technology by men and women. It does this by identifying a series of decisions following technology adoption, and how these decisions affect how the technology is used, by whom, to whose benefit, and with what costs. Given the focus on technology adoption as a strategy for agricultural development and women’s empowerment, understanding the intrahousehold distribution of costs and benefits and the jointness of control over a technology can help guide technology promotion in a way that advances programming objectives, rather than simply interpreting technology adoption as an end in and of itself.