Cattle as Technological Interventions: The Gender Effects of Water Demand in Dairy Production in Uganda

Elizabeth Ransom, Carmen Bain, Harleen Bal, Natasha Shannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Smallholder dairy production dominates the country of Uganda, with over 90% of the national herd owned by smallholders. To reduce hunger, malnutrition, and raise families out of poverty agricultural development, interventions in Uganda have focused on increasing milk production through the introduction of improved dairy cow breeds. Development actors, such as the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) program in Uganda, see crossbreed dairy cows as a key technological intervention for improving production. Drawing on a multi-method study (spatial analysis, surveys, and qualitative interviews) of dairy smallholders, our paper examines the gendered effects of the introduction of crossbreed dairy cows. To ensure peak performance, improved breeds require more inputs (e.g., water, feed, and medicine), which are labor and time intensive with specific gendered outcomes. Our findings reveal that both men and women identify fetching water as one of the greatest challenges in maintaining dairy cows, but women and children disproportionately fetch the water and women have higher reported rates of time poverty. Water quality is also an issue, with smallholders struggling to provide clean water to cows, and our basic water testing reveals water sources with high nitrate levels that can be harmful for children and dairy cows.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2
Pages (from-to)715-732
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


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