MANAGING ECOSYSTEMS AND RESOURCES WITH GENDER EMPHASIS
University of Florida (UF)
Start date: The MERGE program in Brazil began in November of 1994, building on previous work by
GENESYS (1991-1995). The Brazil project is part of a larger UF MERGE program that includes work
in sites in Ecuador and Peru, with support from the MacArthur Foundation.
The MERGE program seeks to strengthen the understanding of gender issues in natural resource
management in tropical areas, and to encourage the application of that improved understanding in research,
training, policy deliberations, and project implementation related to conservation and development in
tropical regions. The assumption of the program is that, as with development programs, conservation and
natural resource management projects will be more successful if they specifically address the different
interests, needs, and capabilities of women and men in communities where project activities take place.
Three features distinguish the MERGE strategy: 1) a substantive focus that combines attention to gender,
participatory approaches with local communities, and resource management to address both conservation
and development goals; 2) a comprehensive strategy that includes development and testing of research
and training materials, training and training-of-trainers, and networking; and 3) working through coalitions
of partner organizations involved in research, policy, training, and project applications in specific sites.
The MERGE program in Brazil provides assistance in integrating gender analysis with community
participation strategies in natural resource management projects and activities, with groups supported by
the USAID-sponsored Global Climate Change (GCC) program. The program strategy is developed
through participatory planning with Brazilian grantee groups, U.S. counterpart organizations, and other
groups and individuals who can participate in coalitions for collaborative research, policy, training, and
project applications in specific sites. Through MERGE, these groups are connected to broader networks
of researchers and practitioners, and participate in the collective effort to develop effective strategies to
address the challenge of integrating gender concerns into natural resource management programs.
The goals of the overall MERGE/Brazil program are to: 1) Work with USAID, GCC partner
organizations, local professionals and support organizations to develop and strengthen coalitions and
networks to ensure the institutionalization of gender concerns within the GCC program; 2) Work with
GCC partners to define appropriate indicators of socioeconomic and gender aspects of project impact, and
develop strategies to generate and analyze the information required to measure process using these
indicators; 3) Assist GCC grantees to define and implement research, training, extension, project
monitoring and policy recommendation activities that build on past socioeconomic research and to address
concerns about future project impact expressed by the GCC partner organizations; 4) Support the field
testing, adaption, and dissemination of gender analysis tools and strategies for GCC project sites; 5)
Support and train local professionals in training, networking, dissemination, and technical assistance; and
6) Strengthen networks among Brazilian NGOs with gender interests in the Amazon region, and with
outside groups and experts.
* Institutionalization, capacity building, and networking
MERGE has worked with Brazilian organizations, U.S. counterpart grantee organizations, USAID program
officers and a broader network of professionals to institutionalize attention to gender concerns in the
GCC-funded program. Revised project logframes now include more gender-disaggregated indicators, and
Brazilian organizations have considered ways to analyze the impact of specific project activities by gender.
MERGE has supported the work of key individuals already committed to gender in Brazilian organizations,
and is working to form local support groups in Rio Branco and Beldm. Through the MERGE international
network, these individuals and groups have been linked to professionals in other countries and have
participated in MERGE-sponsored workshops, meetings and conferences in Gainesville, Ecuador and Peru.
* Training and technical assistance
Individual training and consultations, as well as MERGE-sponsored workshops to bring together GCC
grantee groups, have focused on strengthening local capacity to provide training in gender analysis, and to
collect, analyze and use gender-disaggregated data to improve the effectiveness of GCC-funded projects.
A workshop held in Bel6m in 1995 provided the opportunity to assess existing data sets and future needs,
which are being addressed through continuing training and technical assistance activities. With support
from SUNY, four professionals from Acre received intensive gender training in Gainesville.
MERGE-sponsored workshops on gender analysis and gender-focused community extension will be
coordinated by Amazonian professionals already trained through MERGE and GENESYS activities.
* Documentation and dissemination
MERGE is working with Brazilian organizations to document how attention to gender has been
incorporated into their project activities, and how this has affected the success of their projects. With
MERGE support, a case study is being prepared of the Jail Park near Manaus. Case studies also are
planned to document and disseminate specific cases demonstrating the relevance of gender to
community-based fire management; non-timber forest products processing; and agroforestry systems in
the Amazon region.
The MERGE program in Brazil has been implemented as a transitional activity following the end of the
GENESYS program. Once mechanisms to support WID-related activities within USAID are more clearly
defined, it will be possible to explore how the UF's MERGE program will be involved in Brazil in the
For more information, contact Project Manager Marianne Schmink, PO Box 115531, University of Florida,
Gainesville, FL 32611; Tel. 352-392-6548/0375; Fax 352-392-0085/7682; email firstname.lastname@example.org.