Women’s participation in environmental decision-making: Quasi-experimental evidence from northern Kenya

Core message

While it is generally recognized that women play important roles in feeding and caring for livestock, they often do not participate in more strategic decision-making on livestock management. This is true in mixed crop-livestock settings, and particularly in dryland pastoral systems where households depend on livestock for livelihoods and survival. In this study among northern Kenyan pastoralists, a quasi-experimental approach was used to evaluate an NGO-led intervention that aimed to increase drought preparedness by empowering women at household and community levels. It used a difference-in-differences design combined with matching estimation to causally isolate effects of the intervention. The intervention itself was a set of training and community development exercises involving both women and men on leadership and communication (women only), on gender and drought preparedness (men only), and on civic education and community development. Four communities were selected for the interventions.


Baseline and final surveys after six months provided the analytical data. At the community level, there was an increase in women's political awareness and participation in formal decision-making processes, but that participation was not observed to translate into meaningful outcomes. At the household level, however, there was a large and positive effect on actions taken to better prepare for drought in the form of pre-emptive livestock sales. Such actions increased by only 18% in the control group compared with an increase of 46% in the treatment group. Prior to the intervention, only around 5% of women in the treatment group reported having engaged in direct action, but more than 50% of those same women reported household-level actions after the intervention.


While these are based on a relatively short-term and focused intervention, the results suggest that greater investment in supporting women’s participation, including raising awareness among men, can lead to better livestock management decisions.


Full citation

Grillos, T. (2018). Women’s participation in environmental decision-making: Quasi-experimental evidence from northern Kenya. World Development108, 115-130. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2018.03.017



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