A. Agriculture: Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (South Pacific)

(NB: To read more about gender, agriculture and CCA, see Sectoral Module A.)

Project Name:Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (DSAP) Country:South Pacific (Regional)

Fiji, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna


Implementing Organizations:
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)

Funding Partners:
European Union

Budget (US$):
5,824,300 (€4,306,000)

2003–2010 (2008 and 2009 in some countries)

Project Objectives:
(Source: UNDP-PC and AusAID 2008)

  • Improve food security and livelihoods to increase resiliency for disaster risks and climate change impacts
  • Make agricultural production more sustainable

Notable Gender-Related Activities and Processes:
(Source: Seniloli 2010)

  • Gender-sensitizing training of staff and partners
  • Gender-sensitive consultation with men and women farmers and their respective crops
  • Gender-specific appropriate technologies for sustainable agriculture
  • Strategic selection of project partners: Tonga Development Community Trust, for projects for women
  • Guiding project principle of involvement of all stakeholders, including people of different ages, gender, and background, at all project stages

Notable Gender-Related Results:

(Source: Seniloli 2010)

  • Staff trained in gender-sensitive participatory approaches and technologies
  • Partnerships strengthened between agricultural extension providers and NGO partners working with women
  • Balanced representation of men and women in DSAP publications
  • High levels of women participating in DSAP project activities
  • Culturally specific, gender-sensitive activities and extension strategies (e.g.,
    making in Tonga, separation of male and female activities in Fiji, women’s taro farming in PNG).



Adaptation Learning Network. n.d. Summary description of the Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific (DASP) program (online).

Aguilar, L. 2009. Case study 1: Women planning sustainable agriculture.
: Training manual on gender and climate change. pp. 21-22. IUCN, Costa Rica and UNDP, New York.

European Community. 2003. Financing agreement between the European Commission and Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). Development of Sustainable Agriculture in the Pacific II (REG/6704/002) EDF IX. Agreement N°9057/REG.

Secretariat of the Pacific Community/DSAP team. 2009. Case Studies – Lessons from the field:  The DSAP experience. SPC, New Caledonia.

Seniloli, M. 2008. Integrated gender, risk reduction and climate change adaptation: Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s development of sustainable agriculture in the Pacific programme.
United Nations Development Programme—Pacific Centre (UNDP-PC) and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). 2008. The Gendered dimensions of disaster risk management and adaptation to climate change: Stories from the Pacific. Forum on the Gendered Dimensions of Disaster Risk Management and Adaptation to Climate Change, 21-22 February 2008. Suva, Fiji.

———. 2010. “Gender dimensions of science and technology in agriculture and climate change”. Presented at United Nations Expert Group Meeting on Gender, Science and Technology, 28 September–01 October 2010. Paris, France.

UNISDR. 2008. Gender perspectives: Integrating disaster risk reduction into climate change adaptation –good practices and lessons learned. UNISDR, Geneva.

EU Contact: Annick Villarosa (annick.villarosa@ec.europa.eu)

  1. Introduction

Beginning in 2003, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) undertook a sustainable agricultural development program throughout the Pacific region to improve the resiliency of farm households and communities to disaster risks and climate change impacts the DSAP worked across 17 Pacific nations (Aguilar 2009).

DSAP evolved from a prior Pacific Regional Agriculture Programme (PRAP) of the SPC. DSAP was intended to build upon the foundation of PRAP projects on lowland and atoll farming. DSAP differed in several ways from the previous PRAP projects. In the atolls, the DSAP approach focused on the identification of problems and the testing of technologies with farmers to improve the traditional tree crop-based multi-story agricultural systems as well as ensure the integration of livestock into this system. In the lowlands, the emphasis moved from research to identification and promotion of promising technologies that included improved crop varieties, pest and disease management, land conservation, and agroforestry technologies (Adaptation Learning Network). DSAP also deployed extension communication outreach tools to better promote project efforts within member countries—for example, the use of radio, and the production and use of posters, handbooks, brochures, and videos at a national level.

The project was designed on a model that encourages country-level planning, implementation and coordination. This has been achieved by establishing National Steering Committees (NSCs) involving a range of relevant stakeholders from both government and civil society (Aguilar 2009). The DSAP used participatory approaches to work with local farmers across the Pacific to improve their food security and livelihoods (Seniloli 2008).

DSAP had two objectives (UNDP-PC and AusAID 2008):

  • To improve food security and livelihoods to increase resiliency for disaster risks and climate change impacts
  • To make agricultural production more sustainable.

DSAP recognized that women farmers have significant roles in food production and marketing in the Pacific. When determining client needs, the project design took into account the different roles that women and men have in the production process, postharvest activities, in the rural household economy, and their differing constraints (EC 2003).

  1. Summary of Project

General description of proposal preparation

Besides lessons from the prior regional agriculture project, DSAP used a participatory planning workshop in October 2001 to finalize the design and content of the project. This workshop included representatives from various government, NGOs, and donor organizations from numerous Pacific Island Countries and Territories and the SPC (Adaptation Learning Network).

Gender integration during project design/formulation and proposal preparation

The foundation of DSAP was participatory methodologies at community and higher levels that focused on improving sustainable agricultural production and food security. Using a participatory rural appraisal with gender analysis for the needs assessment created the space for women’s participation and inputs on priorities and strategies. This combined approach identified the needs of women, men, and youth throughout the community. It yielded data on the variations in crops grown by men and women on the different islands and also the division of labor for various farm activities and crops. Information from the consultative process about local needs informed project choices about the right tools and appropriate technologies for farmers in different parts of the Pacific. The design stage consultations with all stakeholders at the regional, national, and community levels took time but led to the establishment of inclusive participatory consultation mechanisms, at all levels, during project implementation. The project also took the time to create sustainable linkages across levels of consultation mechanisms and earn the trust of local communities (Aguilar 2009).

Other gender-friendly mechanisms in the design of DSAP involved partner, staffing, and client choices:

  • The project made plans to link with the activities and expertise of the Pacific Women’s Resource Bureau (PWRB) and other organizations with greater experience working with women farmers (e.g., Tonga Development Community Trust) (Seniloli 2010).
  • For field staffing, DSAP recognized the need for gender balance in staff and made plans for selecting gender focal points (GFPs) among the staff (EC 2003).
  • As part of its client base, DSAP chose to target women’s groups at the grassroots level and to involve representatives from these groups into the national steering committee (ibid.).

Gender integration during project implementation
(Sources: Seniloli 2008, 2010;EC 2003)

  • Building gender capacity building for project staff and implementing organization. The staff and team members of DSAP received gender sensitivity training.
  • Building gender capacity within client communities. With the Pacific Platform for Action for women as basis for the approach to engaging communities, DSAP built the capacity of both men and women.
  • Ensuring technology training for women. DSAP made a point of increasing women’s participation in technology training.
  • Emphasizing participatory approaches. DSAP focused on the widespread participation of women.
  • Appointment of GFPs. These individuals provided ongoing impetus to the inclusion of women and incorporation of gender analysis into the participatory approaches.
  • Women’s roles in project decision-making. Women’s groups were included on the NSC.
  • Tailoring culturally specific gender approaches across the 17 Pacific Island countries. DSAP adjusted its technology promotion to be suitable for different locations, depending on crops, cottage industries, and the existing gender divisions of work (e.g., women’s taro farming in PNG).
  • Engaging men and women farmers in technology testing. Both women and men farmers who were participating in the project were involved identifying, testing, and demonstrating the value of selected appropriate technologies.
  • Addressing food security. When participatory analyses revealed that some segments of the population did not know how to prepare certain crops for consumption, DSAP added training on food preparation to its services.
  • Gender-balanced material in DSAP publications. Images and text aimed for balanced representation of men and women.
  • Sex-disaggregated baseline and other data. To monitor the adoption of appropriate technologies, the project conducted annual participatory impact assessments, including gender analysis and identification of benefits in each country.

Key gender-related results
(Source: Seniloli 2010)

  • Improved staff capacity for gender-sensitive participatory approaches and technologies
  • Strengthened partnerships between agricultural extension providers and NGO partners working with women
  • Increased adoption of new technologies by more women farmers.
  1. Conclusions


  • The adoption of a participatory consultative approach, during design and implementation, created more opportunities for women to participate in project decision-making and priority setting.
  • The project recognized cultural differences within a region, including culturally specific differences in the gender division of labor for various crops and agricultural tasks, and adapted strategies and technologies accordingly.
  • The implementer built its own capacity to collect and apply gender-related information and operate in a gender-sensitive manner within project interventions. But it also reached out to use local organizations with greater gender expertise and networks.
  • The project adopted a guiding project principle that specified that both men and women stakeholders should be involved.

Lessons learned and missed opportunities

  • The indicators in the logical framework mention sex-disaggregation of data but do not include specific indicators or targets for women’s participation.
  • Indicators were not sufficient to understand impacts on women’s lives, including their economic, social, or political status within their households and communities, or how their project involvement impacted their families.