Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Problems: The gender and environment...
 Implicit and explicit strategies...
 General observations
 Back Cover

Group Title: SD publication series - Office of Sustainable Development, Bureau for Africa ; Technical paper ; no. 30
Title: A Guide to the Gender Dimension of Environment and Natural Resources Management Based on Sample Review of USAID NRM Projects in Africa
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Title: A Guide to the Gender Dimension of Environment and Natural Resources Management Based on Sample Review of USAID NRM Projects in Africa
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Publication Date: August 1996
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Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Title Page
    Table of Contents
        Table of Contents
        Preface 1
        Preface 2
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
    Problems: The gender and environment relationship
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Implicit and explicit strategies to address gender issues
        Page 10
        Page 11
    General observations
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
    Back Cover
        Page 16
Full Text

SD Publication Series
Office of Sustainable Development
Bureau forAfrica

A Guide to the Gender Dimension of
Environment and
Natural Resources Management
Based on Sample Review of USAID
NRM Projects in Africa

Mary Picard
USAID/W Africa Women in Development
Project Advisor
The MayaTech Corporation

Technical Paper No. 301
August 1996


Productive Sector Growth and Environment Division
Office of Sustainable Development
Bureau for Africa
U.S. Agency for International Development

A Guide to the Gender Dimension of
Environment and
Natural Resources Management
Based on a Sample Review of USAID
NRM Projects in Africa

Mary Picard
USAID/W Africa Women in Development
Project Advisor
The MayaTech Corporation

August 1996

Publication services provided by AMEX Intemational, Inc.
pursuant to the following USAID contract:
Project Title: Policy, Analysis, Research, and Technical

Project Number:
Contract Number:

Support Project



Foreword v
Acknowledgments vii
Preface ix

1. A Guide to Gender Dimension of Environment and Natural Resources Management 1

Introduction 1
Purpose 1
Limitations of the Review 2
Methodology 2
Gender Analysis for NRM and Environmental Policy 2
Problems The Gender and Environment Relationship 6
Implicit and Explicit Strategies to Address Gender Issues 10
General Observations 12
Postulates 13
Conclusions 14

Documents Reviewed 15


The consideration of gender issues in natural resources
management (NRM) in Africa merits special atten-
tion. Knowledge of these issues is critical for suc-
cessful project design, planning and implementation;
and policy making at regional, national, and local
This review of the U.S. Agency for International
Development NRM projects and the associated bibli-
ography were developed in association with the Con-
ference on Environment and Natural Resources Policy
held in The Gambia in January 1994. The Confer-
ence brought together NGOs, PVOs, USAID field
staff, and ministry officials who are implementing
environmental projects across Africa. The themes of
participation and governance, drew attention to the
issue of women's participation, as both beneficiaries
and decision-makers. We can not afford to pay lip
service to women in development in the face of mount-

ing evidence that shows the link between failing to
integrate gender issues in project planning and failed
This publication-A Guide to Gender Dimen-
sion ofEnvironment and Natural Resources Manage-
ment-navigates us through a sample of USAID en-
vironmental projects and, concomitantly, through the
practice of gender analysis, revealing areas of needed
improvement and gaps in our knowledge.* Together
with A Selected Bibliography on Gender in Environ-
ment and Natural Resources, this document will help
project implementors and policymakers better under-
stand gender issues in natural resources management,
and provide guidance in addressing those issues.

Curt Reintsma
Division Chief

The research and development of the analysis in
this publication was supported by the Africa Women in
Development Project (698-0529), and managed by the
MayaTech Corproation. Publication and distribution is
under the Policy, Analysis, Research, and Technical
Support Project (698-0478).


I would like to give a special thanks to Tim Resch,
Mike McGahuey, and Tony Pryor of U.S. Agency for
International Development, Bureau for Africa, Of-
fice of Sustainable Development, Productive Sector
Growth and Environment Division (SD/PSGE) for
generating the impetus and collaborative efforts to
make gender research an integral part of the Division's
analytical agenda. As Women-in-Development Ad-
visor to the Bureau, I have enjoyed and benefited
from our collegial relationship and mutual endeavors
in the area of natural resources management.
I am indebted to Cheryl Simmons of the Africa
Bureau Information Center for her exceptional re-
sponsiveness to my research support needs in con-
ducting the topical search and review of the litera-

ture. I am grateful as well to my colleagues Cheryle
Buggs, Constance McCorkle, and Janet Abramovitz
for their constructive criticism and editorial eye. I
owe a special thanks to Nancy Diamond for her
substantive review of this paper and the bibliography
prepared as part of this research effort. A warm
thanks also goes out to Andrew Stancioff and col-
leagues from the field, some of whom I met for the
first time at the Conference on Environment and
Natural Resources Policy in The Gambia, for their
input on the earlier draft.
Finally, I would like to thank Sheryl Andrews,
my assistant on the Africa Women in Development
Project, for her many contributions and patience.

Mary Picard


There is a context for this work on gender and natural
resources that stretches beyond the confines of the
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
conference for which this was prepared. In one sense,
its currency goes hand-in-hand with the discourse of
participatory development, democratic transition,
people-level impacts, sustainability and broad-based
economic growth. An enquiry into the gender dy-
namics within the environment/development arena is
illuminating, when equity is being given serious con-
sideration and the goal is to decentralize control over
resources and management plans to local institutions.
Similarly, in the distribution of benefits from local
environmental initiatives, gender considerations dove-
tail with the concern for reaching the traditionally
disadvantaged groups within a community. The sus-
tainability challenge in linking conservation and
management objectives with economic benefits adds
even greater value to the democratic process, i.e., the
involvement of all resource users-of which women
constitute a large proportion. The dominance of these
themes within development assistance today creates
fertile ground for a growing appreciation of the gen-
der dimension of the human-environment relation-
ship and evidence of mounting support to women's
leadership roles as environmental activists, decision-
makers, and guardians of the natural resource base.
This guidebook also has meaning in the broad
span of women-in-development (WID)-related lit-
erature. It transects the fields of women in develop-
ment, gender and environment, and ecofeminism, as
illustrated in the bibliography mentioned later. It is
the author's personal view that while the theoretical
shift from a WID approach to gender analysis has
permeated the work of most development institu-
tions, the application in the field of the concepts,
tools, and methodologies delivered by gender spe-
cialists is far behind schedule. Part of the problem

lies in the slow transfer of the responsibility for the
practice of gender analysis from gender specialists to
project implementors. But also at issue is the con-
verging influence of various modes of thought and
philosophies on the relationship between gender
(women) and the environment (nature). Consequently,
it is not uncommon that gender issues are dismissed
as pure advocacy for women, the focus shifts from
gender dynamics to a discussion of women's roles
only, and women are treated as one undifferentiated
group. Notwithstanding that the pivotal event of the
United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development (UNCED) Conference has united
women in a struggle against the deterioration of their
living conditions, the literature itself sometimes yields
assumptions which, like most assumptions, deserve
to be tested or contested. For instance, the idea that
women's interests correlate positively with environ-
mental interests should be treated as a thesis and not
a universal truth.
Against the backdrop of this broader context,
this guidebook has clear limitations. It most closely
resembles other attempts to organize and transfer the
tools of gender analysis in natural resources and
agriculture, but it differs in two ways: (1) it is tailored
to the current audience of project and program
implementors and based on a review of USAID project
designs and evaluations in natural resources projects;
and (2) it gives the user an opportunity to test con-
ventional wisdom through the presentation of hy-
potheses derived from an up-to-date literature re-
Beyond USAID projects and programs, a final
caveat on the topic of gender and natural resources is
in order. While most writing on the topic to date
tends to emphasize the general case, as do the hy-
potheses in this document, a good deal more research
needs to focus on the specifics, e.g., how and under

what conditions gender dynamics as power relations
change overtime and, hence, how men's and women's
relationship with the resource base changes; how
disenfranchised women in Africa are mobilizing to
acquire legal rights over resources; how class, age,
ethnicity, ecological zone and a myriad of social
science variables factor in to the analysis of the prob-
lem; and how men and women are interpreting and

assimilating democratic institutions and processes to
improve community-based environmental manage-
It is the author's hope that a certain level of
monitoring at the field level will inspire and eventu-
ally generate the kind of long-term, academic re-
search which has its place in the future design of
appropriate, sustainable development programs.

1. A Guide to the Gender Dimension of

Environment and

Natural Resources Management


A review of 11 U.S. Agency for International Devel-
opment (USAID) natural resources / environmental
projects in Africa for their treatment of and informa-
tion about gender issues was conducted specifically
for the Conference on Environment and Natural Re-
sources Policy held in The Gambia, January 18-22,
1994. The review and a companion document-A
Selected Bibliography on Gender in Environment
and Natural Resources-are intended as resource
materials for USAID project implementors and par-
ticipants of the conference. Project and field staff are
encouraged to provide feedback to staff of the U.S.
Agency for International Development, Bureau for
Africa, Office of Sustainable Development, Produc-
tive Sector Growth and Environment Divsion (SD/
PSGE). Feedback should be based on:
* project experience that will add to the collective
knowledge of how effectively gender analysis
improves project performance;
* gender-differentiated problems in projects; and
* strategies or interventions to best address the
Finally, it is hoped the use of this guide will spur
more crossfertilization among Missions, projects, and
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) directly in
the field on lessons learned in integrating and ad-
dressing gender issues in agriculture and natural re-
source management projects or at the level of formu-
lating environmental policy.


The purpose of this review was to gain some insight
into how various kinds of natural resources manage-
ment (NRM) projects have treated gender (or women-
in-development) issues in the design and other stages
of the project cycle. It was equally intended that this
effort would give some indication of the trends or
improvements in the approaches to gender consider-
ations in project and policy planning. The first part
of the review investigates the degree to which certain
kinds of gender analysis questions were explored as
part of the social or gender analysis and resonated
throughout the project paper.
In a second section, a set of common problems or
phenomena that relate to gender and environment
was identified, and projects reviewed to determine
whether or not the problems pertained to the indi-
vidual country and project. In a third section, projects
were scrutinized for the implicit or explicit strategies
used to address gender issues. This is followed by an
overview of some general observations on the review
of projects.
Overall, the paper provides insight into the ways
in which gender issues have been or can be concep-
tualized as part of a design effort and, most impor-
tantly, the many substantive and nonsubstantive ways
that benefits to and participation of women has been
defined. It was not the purpose of this exercise to
prescribe solutions or strategies. The problems clearly
require scrutiny within the respective ecological and
social context, as well as within the context of avail-
able resources to carry out essential steps. However,
this paper should give project staff a broader frame-

work for deciding what questions need to be asked or
what steps need to be taken in their particular situa-
A section on postulates for further research and
monitoring purposes is added at the end of the review
section, followed by conclusions. Postulates such as,
"Women's participation in project planning, design
and implementation can not only reduce the damage
to [the] interests [of women and women's groups],
but also enhance overall project success (original
emphasis),"' can guide project implementors in iden-
tifying causal factors and in monitoring and evaluat-
ing their projects.


The major limitation of this review is its sole focus on
documentation as the source of information. In the
absence of discussion with field personnel associated
with the projects reviewed, the paper is not consid-
ered to offer any conclusive evidence. With one or
two exceptions, the project documents did not pro-
vide adequate information as evidence to ascertain
the applicability of problems or hypotheses posed.
For this reason, illustrations of individual project
experience were kept to a minimum. At best, the
information drawn from written sources is treated as
merely indicative of past and current approaches to
gender in natural resources management and may be
compelling enough to spur follow-on investigation of
the issues in the field within the context of USAID's
projects and programs in NRM.
From an academic viewpoint, because the prob-
lems put forward in section two were intended to
reflect what the literature itself has produced, they
also lapse into a more narrow focus on women. While
the gender analysis questions in the first section con-
vey how practitioners should be thinking, the prob-

1. Clones, J. 1991. Women's Crucial Role in Man-
aging the Environment in Sub-S&aharan Africa. Tech-
nical Note. Washington, DC: The World Bank.

lems section illustrates the reality of how and what
the literature has been reporting to date.


While this documentation-based study sought to re-
view as many USAID projects/programs in NRM or
environment initiated over the last decade as pos-
sible, both time and availability of documents limited
its scope. Moreover, during the review process, some
projects, deemed peripherally relevant, were elimi-
nated as part of the study. Project documents con-
sisted mostly of project papers with their annexes,
but also some midterm evaluations and amendments.
The review did attempt to capture some diversity,
both in terms of the region and type of project. Hence,
the areas covered were conservation (national parks
and reserves), wildlife management, livestock man-
agement, agriculture/natural resources, forestry and
reforestation, and environmental policy. The coun-
tries included Madagascar, Mali, Senegal, Lesotho,
the Gambia, Rwanda, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana,
and Uganda.
Only the aggregate experience is presented be-
low, with selected examples at the country or project


Before preceding to a set of guiding questions, three
principal spheres of analysis for conducting an en-
quiry on the gender dimension of environment and
NRM initiatives are presented:

gender relations Within the social unit of
analysis (household, community, livelihood sys-
tem) explore gender-based disparities in access to
and control over resources, decision making, eco-
nomic opportunities, among others, and investi-

gate the level of bargaining and negotiating be-
tween the sexes that is tolerated and under what
* gender roles and responsibilities Depending
on the cultural gender division of labor, men and
women have varying interests and motivations to
conserve, protect or manage their resources.
These need to be ascertained to create appropri-
ate incentives.
* sociospatial dynamics Mobility, displacement
patterns, and the spatial location of human activ-
ity are commonly differentiated by gender as
well as by other social variables. The "where" of
these activities and their boundaries-abstract or
real-are central to the relationship between
humans and the environment.

Though less empirically supported than the pre-
ceding three spheres of analysis, a possible fourth
relates to behaviors and attitudes. Notions of stew-
ardship of the environment and a certain conception
of nature may also be gender-differentiated.
Ecofeminists argue that women have a biologically
grounded affinity for nature. If this could even be
proven, then women's relationship with the environ-
ment should transcend place and culture.
A set of gender analysis questions pertinent to
the design of NRM projects or to the formulation of
environmental policy is introduced below. Some of
the questions, such as the identification of roles and
responsibilities or access to resources, are generic in
that they can apply to any sector (agriculture, enter-
prise development, etc.); others are more specific to
the relationship between people and natural resources.
Each question was asked in the review of a sample of
eleven USAID projects. The findings from the re-
view, according to the question asked, follow each

1. What is the gender division of labor in agricul-
tural livelihood systems, domestic chores (e.g.,
fuelwood collection), and the management and
exploitation of natural resources?

In all but two of the eleven projects some atten-
tion was given to the gender division of labor in
agriculture, natural resources management, and/or
household chores. Most described, to some degree,
the gender differences in production tasks, or they
elaborated the multifaceted responsibilities which
women have. In seven of the eleven cases, the fire-
wood and water collection tasks of women were
mentioned. In all cases except two, the fact that both
men and women utilize and exploit natural resources
was explicit. However, the management of those
resources was not consistently discussed.

2. Within the household and within the commu-
nity, what is the gender division of resources
(access to and control over land, other natural
resources, and productive resources)?

Only five of the eleven projects alluded to the
access to and control of resources according to gen-
der, despite some discussion of the issues (use, ac-
cess, security, etc.). What was especially important
here was the use and rights over the resources central
to a project, such as trees for forestry or livestock for
livestock projects. Other relevant access or control
issues, such as rules governing use of open-access
grazing and forest lands, licenses for selling forest
products, and ownership rights to cattle, were not
gender-differentiated. No project raised the issue of
access to labor, particularly female labor. Only one
project made a further breakdown by age.

3. How does land tenure, in particular, affect
men and women in the community? Who has
ownership rights?

Overall, this issue received a fair amount of at-
tention, which likely reflects the longer history of
land tenure research in agriculture. In six of the
projects, the gender impacts were featured promi-
nently, while three gave it cursory attention, and two
did not explore the land tenure issues at all. In all
reported cases, women do not have rights to land,

and, under customary law, they lose control over
land upon divorce or death of the spouse. Women as
land borrowers, as in the Gambia, have even lost
control over land in which they have invested and
utilized for productive purposes to village headmen
who can reclaim communal land they have allocated
to users. Only in Madagascar is the situation for
women, at least in the highlands, not as inflexible.
Both sons and daughters may inherit land, although
the plots for women tend to be smaller than for men.

4. How do gender-based entitlements to income
from sale of agricultural or resource-based
outputs correspond to the use, access, and
control of resources? Do men and women have
separate accounting units in the household?

Very little discussion was made of gender-based
entitlements, and only eight of the eleven provided
information at least partially relevant. In most cases,
the information implied some separation of account-
ing units for men and women in reference to the
products that women sell as derived from their own
labor or income-generating activities for women. No
analysis is done on who reaps the benefits of using or
managing the resources within the particular cultural
context. Only Namibia lent importance to the issue in
the statement that ". it is important to assess the
extent of control which women exercise over the
income derived from their productive activities."

5. Are services such as extension, inputs, and
credit, directed equally at men and women
resource managers?

There was a good deal of variation in the re-
sponse to this question. Four projects sought to con-
front the issue, three acknowledged the problem, and
four made no mention of it. In four cases the need for
women to gain access to training or technical knowl-
edge was noted, while four projects reported access
to extension or availability of female extensionists as
a problem. Other documented constraints to women

included access to inputs (chemical fertilizers); land,
loans, and credit; education and literacy; rural em-
ployment; marketing supplies; and labor.

6. What is the gender-based indigenous knowl-
edge of natural resources?

The projects know very little about this topic.
One project raised the importance of women's role as
transmitters of basic values in conserving natural
resources; one related the relevance of indigenous
knowledge to environmental education programs
without mention of gender differentiation; and the
remainder did not address indigenous knowledge.

7. How do sociocultural factors affect women's
(vs. men's) visibility and voice at the house-
hold and community levels?

Some attention was given to women's voice
within the sociocultural context in eight of the eleven
projects. Evidence was given that most formal deci-
sion making structures are male-dominated, although
this occurrence is not sufficient for an assessment of
the influence or decision making power of women in
the household or their community in various socio-
cultural settings. Only four cases were explicit about
some form of women's subordination, e.g., women in
Namibia "rarely participate in household and com-
munity decisions and as a consequence do not articu-
late their problems and needs readily." In other cases,
the cultural taboo against women as leaders in the
public domain is addressed but also does not neces-
sarily denote a lack of influence or authority. Mada-
gascar reported that women in the central highlands
actually play a prominent role in the public domain
and attend meetings of the local government. Two
projects mentioned conflicting interests between men
and women on resources and their use but did not go
further to examine how such gender-based conflicts
are resolved.

8. Are policies or legislation governing the ex-
ploitation, management, and conservation of
natural resources expected to affect men and
women differently?

The response on policy impacts ranged widely.
Legislative reform was not an integral part of every
project, although devolution of authority to the local
level applied in all cases. The one effort, which fo-
cused specifically on the National Environmental
Action Plan in Uganda, very clearly emphasized the
need to examine policy impacts, i.e., how the imple-
mentation of freehold tenure would affect women's
ownership or use rights to land. A policy study is
being proposed to investigate gender and land tenure
patterns and their impact on women's roles in NRM.
Other responses ranged in their degree of attention to
gender considerations, as demonstrated by the fol-
lowing: (a) basically gender-blind assumptions about
how revisions in tenure codes will stimulate greater
investment in the resource; (b) recognition and, in
one case, acceptance that male-dominated local au-
thority structures could have negative impacts on
women; (c) a statement by another project about how
it will carefully determine the impact of policy changes
on men and women and, in one case, a commitment
to ensure women's access to resources; and (d) a
direct objective to include women in the environ-
mental planning process and not just at the local

9. How do women and men organize to mobilize
labor and other resources?

In five of the eleven cases women's and men's
traditional ways of organizing. In four instances, it
was reported that women are accustomed to forming
their own groups for purposes of resource mobiliza-
tion or for village events. Questions such as whether
women and men traditionally have separate organi-
zations, work cooperatively in the same organiza-
tion, are even cohesive enough within their gender-
based group, or prefer to work as individuals, should
figure in to design choices on which groups to pro-

mote and how to include representation by women.
Should women's groups be represented on local com-
mittees making decisions about revenues from re-
source management and conservation? Should
women's groups be targeted directly and separately
for project activities? As one example pointed out,
men's cooperation must be sought alongside target-
ing village women because men can and have re-
sisted activities directed exclusively to women's
groups without their consultation.

10. How do women figure into the decision-mak-
ing process in government, ministries, scien-
tific or research institutions that apply to the

In three instances, women's low level of partici-
pation in decision making at various levels was noted
as a problem. In two additional cases, women's rep-
resentation in ministries and government departments
was not mentioned, but the documents did mention
their marginalization in local-level power structures.
The remainder did not address the question. In the
case of Botswana women actually experienced a
decline in their access to decision making and posi-
tions of authority "due to [unexplained] external
forces" that occurred long before the project was
initiated. This situation led to the formation of a
Women's Development Committee in 1976. The
Wildlife Department is known to employ a handful
of women professionals but none in senior manage-
ment positions.

11. Are there female-headed households ("de
facto" and "de jure"), and how do they differ
from male-headed households in terms of eco-
nomic status and access to and control over
resources in the community?

A fair amount of attention was given to female-
headed households, especially in countries with a
notably high percentage, mostly in the Southern Af-
rica region: Lesotho has had an economy dependent

on South African mines; Botswana has a rate of 47
percent female-headed households; and Namibia has
20 to 57 percent among nonwhite populations in ur-
ban areas of southern and central Namibia. The Uganda
project document noted the high number of widows
and orphans resulting from the civil war; the Rwanda
project mentioned 21 percent female-headed house-
holds; and the Gambia project noted high rates of
rural outmigration, causing peak labor shortages, par-
ticularly in the West and Banjul areas of the country.
Seven cases took note of the problems associated with
female-headed households-labor shortages, marginal
or small plots for cultivation, and poverty.

The following section goes beyond the examination,
in the first section, of whether the right questions
were asked to how the problems) was articulated.
However, since the problem statements and their
elaboration were deliberately selected from the main-
stream literature, some of them embody the tenden-
cies to steer away from gender relations to a women-
only focus. Users are encouraged to apply the
principles in the first section to challenge some of the


An articulation and description of each problem is
followed by a brief verification based on the infor-
mation available in project documents. In many cases,
the information was not adequate to ascertain the

1. Women's invisibility as farmers and resource
managers persists in the design and imple-
mentation of agricultural programs and re-

Description: Agriculturalprograms and research
commonly refer to the farmer as "he" and fail to
acknowledge that (a) women are also farmers and

(b) women and men have different responsibilities,
tasks, and needs. Project and program planners of-
ten are ignorant of women's concerns, claims, moti-
vations, priorities, and goals, which are likely to
difer from those of men. While this does not mean
that women are excluded from project activities, fail-
ure to gender-disaggregate participating farmers,
adopters of technologies, and resource users renders
empirical data superfluous and future comparisons
impossible in terms of defining the importance of the
gender variable in project planning and impacts.
Assessment: In two cases, there is a sustained
concern to attend closely to women's needs and roles
in agriculture and natural resources. In seven cases,
the project documents fail to demonstrate consis-
tency, restricting language on gender to the social
analysis and conveying gender-blindness in other
sections, such as the economic analysis. In one case,
the invisibility of women was ascertained by the
evaluation, which called for a management informa-
tion system disaggregated by gender, although even
the evaluation report left out the gender-disaggrega-
tion aspect from the summary of recommendations.
One case could not be ascertained at all.

2. Women's triple roles as resource managers,
food producers, and caretakers often present
the conflict of trading stewardship of the re-
source base in favor of meeting household
consumption needs.

Description: Women tend to make a greater con-
tribution to household food security than men. This
contribution sometimes comes at the cost of main-
taining the resource base. Overharvesting of wild
foods, increased planting in marginal areas, cutting
trees to make charcoal, and depletion ofdoum palm
and adropogon leaves for craftwork are some of the
ways the trade-offmight occur. Frequently, the result
is the increasing necessity to buy food, at the same
time that they are forced to give up a source of
income. Women also have certain domestic obliga-
tions, such as water retrieval orfuelwood collection,
which is typically not shared by men. Degradation,

deforestation or the extension of prohibitions on re-
source extraction further penalize women who have
to travel longer distances away from the compound,
sometimes 6 to 8 km one way for water orfuelwood.
Collection activities compete for time spent in food
preparation, child care, and providing for the
household's nutrition. These competing obligations
may affect the expendable time or energy women
need for undertaking more environmentally sound
practices, in concert with their long-term role as
guardians of their resources and their specialized
knowledge about their use and management.
Assessment: A clear affirmation was given in the
case of Senegal and Botswana. The situation could
almost be inferred from the information on Namibia.
Four additional instances conceded women's triple
roles. Senegal described the problem whereby degra-
dation translates into water shortage and reduced
availability of fuelwood and wild plant products,
which in turn lengthens the time it takes for women
to perform these tasks. In Botswana, women for whom
a significant source of income is basket making are
depleting the veld lands and having to walk consid-
erably longer distances to collect the palm. Namibia
noted that women will cease to be managers of their
resources if their constraints and needs are not prop-
erly addressed.

3. Women's control over land in Africa is con-
strained in many different ways.

Description: Constraints to female control over
land result from: (a) legislation that bars women
from ownership, (b) subordination of women's own-
ership rights through a male member of their imme-
diate household, or (c) total dependency in land ac-
cess and cultivation under a male member of the
immediate household or community decision-making
body. Women's land use rights are less secure than
men's, as they apply only as long as they remain
married, and, secondly, women's use rights do not
allow them to acquire title to the land necessary
under adjustment programs to introduce private own-
ership. Lack of secure access to land discourages

women from investing in the land. Without individual
ownership of land as collateral, women cannot ob-
tain credit. Without credit, women have much more
limited means of implementing agricultural improve-
ments or long-term resource conservation.
Assessment: Seven of the eleven projects deter-
mined that women's control over land is constrained;
one presented it as less of a problem than in most
countries; and three cases could not be assessed. In
four of the seven cases, women's constrained access
to land had implications for project assumptions: (a)
that people (i.e., women included) would invest in
the land, and (b) that modem law (vs. customary law)
would make it possible for women to secure land.
The severity of the problem was elaborated for
Uganda, where more and more women are choosing
not to get married to avoid losing land upon death of
the spouse or divorce. At the same time, interviews
with women landowners in Uganda revealed the need
to research the different ways women are able to own

4. Women generally experience greater ecologi-
cal marginalization than men.

Description: This condition is partly a result of
the historical emphasis on cash crops which shifted
female farmers' household food production onto less
fertile land. Programs geared at arresting desertifi-
cation have also been responsible for pushing women
onto marginal lands and prohibiting them from graz-
ing their livestock, although women have for years
organized themselves around survival strategies
against drought. In the more acutely desertified ar-
eas, such as the Saharo-Sahelian zone, male migra-
tion is commensurately higher, while women remain
to eke out an existence from the land or survive on
food programs. As the availability of cultivable land
becomes more limited, women are allocated increas-
ingly more marginal plots or are refused access.
Women are also generally more involved in the col-
lection of common property resources which makes
them more vulnerable to environmental degradation
than men.


----- -- -r-----.--I~---~- -.--.--- -. ......

Assessment: Two cases out of eleven explicitly
alluded to the link between environmental degrada-
tion and women, while the others did not offer ad-
equate information about the problem. Senegal re-
ported that severe deforestation affects women more
severely than men due to their poor access to land
ownership and heavy involvement in collection of
common property resources. In Uganda, the impact
of environmental degradation is more severe for
women who are the primary cultivators and depend
on agriculture to support their families. In one project
site where women had to seek their husband's per-
mission to plant trees, they were given plots with a
high water table, low soil fertility and lack of secu-
rity. In one or two other cases, the increasing demand
for fuelwood and forestry products and extension of
agriculture onto more marginal lands was mentioned
without differentiating the problem by gender.

5. Development planners and politicians have
often viewed women's participation in projects
as-a way to provide voluntary, self-help labor.

Description: Women's unremunerated labor is
often assumed when projects allocate plots of land to
male farmers "and theirfamilies. Traditionally, men
frequently have rights to invoke their wives' labor.
The reliance on unpaid female labor has the effect of
reducing women's overall productivity and access to
income-generating activities. Also, by being uncom-
pensated, women's actual contribution to the na-
tional product is not counted in official estimates
expressed in monetary terms. This also results in an
underpricing of human and natural resources; exag-
gerated rates of return for projects which actually
decrease female productivity will eventually lead to
environmental degradation, since the underestimated
value of those human resources yields little if any
incentive for people (women) to develop technolo-
gies to economize their use.2
It is often the case that women volunteer their
labor in development projects, despite the extra bur-
den, because they wish to acquire the rights to land
or water. Women are not consistently consulted in

the various stages ofan activity and their motivations
for participation are often unknown. A study of ex-
periments in antidesertification projects revealed that
management and supervision by women was the key
to any approach to women 's participation, as was the
case in 90 percent of the ten most successful experi-
Assessment: In three cases, it was ascertained
that women's participation in the project did not
connote women's free labor, either partially or ex-
clusively. In the remaining cases, not enough infor-
mation was given to verify the problem either be-
cause it was not clear how women would be involved,
or because statements on giving women access to
income-generating opportunities assumed availabil-
ity of their labor, whether fairly or not.

6. Women have been disadvantaged in the provi-
sion of agricultural training, credit, and ex-
tension, and in land reform programs.

Description: In the past, cash crops and new
technologies were introduced to men and rarely to
women. Extension workers tend to be male in most
countries, and credit that requires collateral excludes
most women because they do not own land. Similarly,
training opportunities in technical areas, particu-
larly male-dominated fields like forestry, fail to in-
clude women for various reasons. Market informa-
tion that could open up new trade and investment
opportunities does not always reach women.

2. The source for this statement is in Linkages
between Gender Issues and the Fragile Environments
in Sub-Sahara Africa by Julia Clones, AFTWD, Pov-
erty and Social Policy Division of the World Bank
(1991). For an elaboration of this issue, see the 1990
Proceedings of the Annual Conference on Develop-
ment Economics by the World Bank.
3. Monimart, M. 1989. Women in the fight against
desertification. A background paper for the regional
encounter in Segou (Mali) on local-level natural re-
source management, 22-27 May 1989. Issues Paper-
Drylands Programme, International Institute for Envi-
ronment and Development.

Assessment: Four clear cases documented the
disadvantaged position of women in access to inputs
and services. In the other seven cases, no investiga-
tion into the problem was done, with the exception of
women's access to land.

7. Indigenous technical knowledge of natural
resources is rarely tapped in project design or
research and is not regarded as gender-spe-

Description: Indigenous technical knowledge
about the environment and resource base is often
gender-specific, but women's special stock ofknowl-
edge and potential as transmitters to their children
and grandchildren on values relating to the environ-
ment have not been adequately integrated into pro-
gram design or environmental education programs.
Assessment: Only two projects, Namibia and
Uganda, mentioned indigenous knowledge as an ex-
ploitable resource. In one of the nine nonmentioning
cases, the local population's special knowledge was
noted but no attempt was made to integrate into
environmental education.

8. Decentralization is equated with local partici-
pation, but women are not necessarily partici-
pants and beneficiaries.

Description: A community-basedapproach usually
denotes devolving authority to the local levelfor making
decisions on the planning and management of the
community's natural resources, whether it be wildlife,
forests, livestock, or agricultural land. Sometimes anew
formal structure is created, separately from the tradi-
tional power structure or the local government; other
times, existing organizations are used or become part of
a decisionmaking body, such as a localplanning board,
formed for the purpose at hand. While a decentralized
approach may be "participatory, it is not necessarily
democratic, i.e., inequities at the local level still prevail.
Women rarely have the same access to decisionmaking
bodies orpublicforums that men do; hence, thepartici-

pation of women is only proportional to their status in
the community.
Assessment: In only one project was there an inher-
ent assumption that women would be included. In four
instances, projects specifically made provisions for how
women would be involved, considering the difficulty of
access to decisionmaking structures. In one case, for
example, the criteria for awarding grants to NGOs in-
cluded the requirement that the proposal specify how
women will be involved in design and implementation.
In another case, women were going to be specifically
targeted. In the remaining cases, attention to the issue
does not translate into a proposed means to address it.

9. Environmental policy makers and planners
tend to ignore the role of women or assume
that policies will not affect men and women

Description: False assumptions are made that
all heads of households are men, that information
men receive will be passed on to women in their
households, that men and women play similar roles
in environmental and natural resource management,
and that only men have an impact on the environ-
ment.4 The impact ofpolicy changes on women, par-
ticularly in rural areas, is often not well understood
by policy makers. Further, women's decisionmaking
role has been negligible because of their
underrepresentation in the upper ranks of govern-
ment, planning bodies, ministries, and scientific/ag-
ricultural institutions.
Assessment: In five projects, the impacts on men
and women were not ignored; in five additional, the
problem was not entirely applicable; and in one case,
it could not be ascertained. At least some attention
was being paid to policy impacts in the majority of

10. Female-headed households ("de facto" and "de
jure") in Africa are increasing in numbers
and are more acutely affected by environmen-
tal distress.

Descrdition: This trend is attributable to con-
tinuing male outmigration in search of wage employ-
ment, severe economic conditions, female participa-
tion in the workforce, and family breakdown.
Female-headed households tend to be among the
poorest of the poor. The effects of environmental
distress on female-headed households are even
greater, requiring them to work ever longer hours to
produce enough food and income for their families
and to collect fuel and water. Male migration for
work is amplified by desertification and men tend to
stay away longer, not return for the cropping season
every year, and sometimes emigrate for good. Stud-
ies in male migration generally have shown that
migrant remittances tend to be erratic in value and
timing, low in volume, and are often not applied to
welfare needs. Those households who do not receive
migrant remittances experience labor constraints,
food deficits, and a lack of agricultural services and
generally have simpler farming systems; households
in which absent husbands send remittances or return
at intervals, or both, perform comparably to male-
headed households.
Assessment: The relatively more dire situation
for female-headed households was noted in four cases;
the remainder did not offer adequate information for

The following section precedes to the solution or
strategy proposed in project documents to address
gender issues. It was not possible to establish an
exact correspondence between problem statements
and solutions, as some projects included appropriate
language on gender, albeit without describing the
problem; others described the problem but did not
offer a strategy to address the problem. The findings
are aggregated according to types of strategies.

4. Russo, S. 1993. Gender and Environment.
Uganda National Environmental Action Plan Secre-
tariat. Ministry of Water, Energy, Mines, and Environ-
mental Protection. Prepared under USAID contract no.
623-0124-C-00-2049-00. Tropical Research & Devel-
opment. Kampala, Uganda.


Strategies for addressing gender issues were catego-
rized into five different components which may exist in
any combination: (1) decision making, (2) female con-
tributions or participation, (3) access to resources, (4)
control over resources, and (5) benefits. These catego-
ries characterize the concerns typically articulated with
regard to the inclusion of women in the development
process, although their decisionmaking roles and re-
source access/control have figured less consistently in
the rhetoric. The magnitude and definition of each of
these strategies are significant; they indicate, in a sense,
the goallevel forachievingeithergreaterequityorproject
efficiency through applying gender as a crosscutting
Project attention to each category could almost
be depicted on a continuum from no attention (low)
to a high level of attention (high). Under each cat-
egory below, project responses are organized hierar-
chically from high to low, except for the section on
"benefits" which illustrates, in a nonhierarchical
manner, the universe of benefits, as derived from the
literature review. The level of specificity expressed
by the actions under each category, e.g., no mention
of decision making as an issue for women, is a func-
tion partly of the language and discussion found in
the project documents themselves and partly of the
method for aggregating findings.

Decision Making

No. of
Projects Decision-Making Strategies
1 Involve women in decision making in
environmental planning
5 Seek vehicle for women to have a role in
decision making at local level over re-
1 Assist women in the bargaining and ne-
gotiation process

1 Express concern about women's access
to decision making but no proposed strat-
3 No mention of decision making as an
issue for women

Female Contributions or Participation

No. of
Projects Participation Strategies
2 Involve women in the managerial as-
pects of community efforts or in design
2 Involve women in technical training, as
well as in the project's resource man-
agement activities
2 Involve women for their labor and capi-
tal investment in land and other resources
1 Involve women in separate income-gen-
erating activities
3 Women's participation subsumed under
community participation
1 No concrete notions of how women will
be involved

Access to Resources

No. of



Resource Access Strategies

3 Increase women's access to resources, a
direct aim
3 Impact of policy changes or other project
interventions on access to be monitored
2 Women's access regarded as or assumed
to be an indirect benefit of the project
3 Gender-based access not treated as an

Control over Resources

No. of
ProjectsResource Control Strategies
2 Increase women's tenurial rights to re-
sources, a direct aim
1 Impact of policy changes or other project
interventions on control to be monitored
2 Concern for women's control but no
proposed strategy
1 Women's control over resources re-
garded as or assumed to be an indirect
benefit of the project
5 Gender-based control over resources not
treated as an issue


Since projects often have more than one intended
benefit, the total sum exceeds the number of projects
reviewed. As will be observed, some benefits are
concrete, measurable targets while others pertain to
people-level impacts.

No. of
6 Increase and/or diversify incomes
3 Improve access to and/or control over
5 Provide resource-conserving technolo-
2 Improve production techniques for
women and men farmers
1 Improve nutrition through greater ac-
cess to food
2 Encourage women (and men) to pro-
duce raw materials for conservation and/
or their economic benefits

0 Lighten women's domestic labor
1 Improve living conditions (e.g., health
1 Increase women's access to technical
1 Affect sociocultural conditions
keep women as informed and aware
as men
strengthen women's organizations
create greater cohesion among
women's groups and enhance their
sense or responsibility
create a change in the gender divi-
sion of labor
improve women's status (e.g., en-
able women to work alongside men,
if unprecedented)
3 Mitigate impacts that would in any way:
increase women's workload
increase women's marginalization
decrease women's agricultural pro-
cause a loss in access to or control
over resources
3 Nature of gender-based benefits not


As mentioned at the outset of this report, this review
exercise was not intended to be conclusive or pre-
scriptive, given the limited sources of information
and the distance from field reality. To the extent that
the information available was suggestive evidence,
however, certain tentative observations on how
USAID projects are treating gender issues can be

1. A project paper (PP) is typically an effort by an

interdisciplinary team, but the degree to which
team members listen to each other and accept the
other's viewpoint certainly have an impact on
how the separate annexes are mirrored in the
body of the PP, as well as in each other. None-
theless, there does appear to be a "lip service"
approach to WID or gender in some.

2. Land tenure issues are discussed in most NRM
projects, particularly as community-based ap-
proaches are becoming more widespread. There are
clear signs that the gender dimension of land tenure
is being increasingly addressed.

3. The trend to devolve authority in NRM to the
local level is apparent and, concomitantly, issues
of equity and participation are gaining impor-
tance. Women's representation in local level
power structures as an equity issue appears to be
a growing concern that is, nonetheless, difficult
to resolve.

4. The utilization of indigenous knowledge for en-
vironmental education programs and other project
components is not yet in the mainstream, let
alone the gender-disaggregation of that knowl-

5. Even in well-written social analyses, the discus-
sion of gender issues tends to fall short of a
breakdown by age and ethnicity. Moreover, the
persistence of a focus on women rather than on
a comparison of men and women still prevails.
This in itself may be indicative of a WID/equity
approach which looks at women as one vulner-
able group among others.

Separate from the above review of USAID
projects are some additional postulates for
further research and monitoring purposes
listed and elaborated below.


1. Power and bargaining relations as well as the
broader social relations governing decisions
about land, trees and other resources are not
static but change over time and between the
sexes and ages.'

A common misconception is that sociocultural
constraints to women's participation are insurmount-
able or inapproachable issues. In fact, gender rela-
tions, as part of the broader complex of social rela-
tions, continually change and adapt to external
conditions. One of the positive effects of desertifica-
tion is the awareness of women to confront the chal-
lenge collectively. They are learning to form new
organizations and are anxious to become better in-
formed and start up new economic activities. There
is a plethora of subtle and not-so-subtle indigenous
initiatives to overcome constraints, particularly as
families and traditions start to break down and sur-
vival strategies are taxed.

2. Given opportunities for generating revenues,
"... women consistently spend more money and
invest it more wisely in their children's wel-
fare than do their male counterparts."6

Women provide food, child care, and health care
in addition to other domestic activities. Much of the
work they do does not benefit from investment. De-
spite the fact that women spend less time in activities
officially counted as economically productive and
make much less money, women spend far more in
home production than men. A mother's income, rather

5. Leach, M. 1991. "Engendered Environments:
Understanding Natural Resource Management in the
West African Forest Zone." Institute of Development
Studies Bulletin 22(4): 17-24.
6. Charlton, S. 1984. Women in Third World De-
velopment. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

than the overall household income, is said to be the
significant factor in the status of child nutrition.

3. Projects which are based on needs and priori-
ties identified by community members (men
and women) will have a greater chance of
success than if based on project planners' per-
ceptions and assumptions about their needs.

4. Projects which integrate gender analysis in
design (as guided by the questions above) are
better able to formulate appropriate strate-
gies for intervention than projects which de-
part merely from an advocacy standpoint.

5. "[W]omen's participation in project planning,
design and implementation can not only reduce
the damage to [the] interests [of women and
women's groups], but also enhance overallproject
success." (original emphasis).7

It is also worth mentioning what the literature
reports on women's roles in biological diversity as
well as in wildlife management. The common as-
sumptions are:

* African women are, traditionally, active man-
agers of forest and other natural resources
and have passed their indigenous knowledge
on to their children and grandchildren. They
are also active in the promotion of biological

7. Clones, J. 1991. Women's Crucial Role in Man-
aging the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Techni-
cal Note. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.
8. (a) Abramovitz, J. and Nichols, R. 1992. "Women
and Biodiversity: Ancient Reality, Moder Impera-
tive." Development 2: 85-90. (b) Mbaratha, Jane. 1992.
Women's Role in the Conservation and Utilization of
Indigenous Germplasm. Paper presented at the "Women
and Environment" Conference, December 1-2, 1992.
Alexandria, Egypt: High Institute of Public Health,
Alexandria University.

Women have unique knowledge about forest prod-
ucts, wild plants and indigenous varieties. Women
have developed coping strategies in subsistence econo-
mies or during periods of drought that depend mate-
rials from their immediate environment, such as herbs
for medicinal purposes, wild fruits and plants which
they collect and/or process for consumption or sale,
and a wide range of forest products used in income-
generating activities or for basic household needs.
Women commonly have home gardens that produce
early-maturing varieties to carry the family over the
hungry season until main zcrops mature. The same
gardens are used for germplasm conservation and
seed selection. As the resources begin to disappear
and modem knowledge overwrites traditional knowl-
edge, the practice of orally transmitting indigenous
values and knowledge about the environment will

* Women's involvement in wildlife as a resource
includes several activities from sighting and
tracking game to butchering the animal after
the kill, to processing the meat and other prod-
ucts. While women do not play a role in the
capture of large mammals, they frequently
collect reptiles, birds, bats, rodents, wild birds'
eggs, and caterpillars.9

Although the focus of many wildlife manage-
ment projects revolves almost solely around game
animals, other forms of wildlife exist either as sources

of protein or as pests. Women are particularly active
in the capture of small animals and insects which
they may trade on the local market or collect for
home consumption. However, often the more critical
"problem animals" in villages adjacent to reserves or
national parks are the spring hares or the quelea birds
that can destroy an entire field, as has been the expe-
rience of women farmers in Southern Africa. The
postcapture activities relating to large mammals fre-
quently fall to women, some of which can become
income-generating activities, such as tanning.


This paper represents a dual process of reviewing
USAID projects in natural resources management for
incorporation of gender issues and providing the
reader with an overview of the full spectrum of the
WID literature. The latter was accomplished through
the formulation of gender analysis questions, the ar-
ticulation of problem statements relating to the rela-
tionship between gender and the environment, and a
categoration of strategies to address gender issues.
Some tentative observations appear at the end of the
review section. Additional postulates and assump-
tions that did not necessarily emerge in the preceding
sections are presented to give added impetus to the
investigation and monitoring of gender considerations
in project planning.

9. Hunter, M. et al. 1990. "Women and Wildlife in
Southern Africa." Conservation Biology 4(4): 448-451.

Documents Reviewed

Botswana. Natural Resources Management PP and
Midterm Evaluation. Project no. 690-0251.

The Gambia. Agriculture and Natural Resources
PAIP. Project no. 635-0235/36.

Lesotho. Community Natural Resources Management
Project PP. Project no. 632-0228.

Madagascar. Sustainable Approaches to Viable En-
vironmental Management (SAVEM) PP.
Project no. 687-0110.

Mali. Forestry Reform Program/Project PAIP. Project
no. 688-0267/68.

Namibia. Living in a Finite Environment (LIFE) PP
Amendment. Project no. 690-0251.73.

Rwanda. Natural Resources Management Project PP
and Midterm Evaluation. Project no. 696-

Senegal. Community-Based Natural Resources Man-
agement Project PP. Project no. 685-0305.

Senegal. Reforestation Project PP and Midterm Evalu-
ation. Project no. 685-0283.

Uganda. Action Plan for the Environment (APE),
NEAP. Project no. 617-0124.

Zambia. Natural Resources Management PP, Mid-
term Evaluation and Project Amendment.
Project no. 690-0251.11.

U.S. Agency for International Development
Bureau for Africa
Office of Sustainable Development
Productive Sector Growth and Environment Division
Room 2744 NS
Washington, D.C. 20523-0089



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