Transforming gender relations and turning to sustainable resource use in the Kilum-Ijim Forests of Cameroon

Description of the project: CAMGEW engages local and ethnic women in sustainable forest management, while enhancing their human and socio-economic rights and transforming patriarchal gender relations in the forest communities. Cooperating with Oku local authorities and the government of Cameroon, CAMGEW gives women the opportunity to assume leadership positions of forest institutions and stakeholder platforms. They provide a broad range of trainings to over 2000 people : environmental education for schools and adults, bee farming, agroforestry and organic farming, small livestock breeding and biogas production, entrepreneurship skills with financial assistance. This initiative helps 800 young women fight domestic violence through counseling on their rights, business opportunities and community sensitization to counter early marriages.

Climate impact: Training in agroforestry for 772 community members, two-thirds women, prevents soil erosion and deforestation, while responding to domestic food and firewood needs. Three plant nurseries provided farms at the forest periphery with 150,000 saplings. Forest education was imparted in schools, through social media, radio, social gatherings, men’s clubs. 240 Mbororo women gained skills on organic farming to improve fodder for their cattle and sheep, reducing farmer-grazer conflicts. 900 bee hives donated to farmers guard health of the forest.

Gender impact: CAMGEW has applied gender mainstreaming across all it’s activities: agroforestry and organic farming with cattle breeding, plant nurseries, beekeeping, business skills trainings for 1580 women, incl dressmaking & hairdressing for 20 girls; giving loans to 1325 of them. Counseling 800 victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse -including teenage mothers and HIV/AIDS infected- on their social rights, and empowering them with business skills and advice on nutrition and health, working on legalization of mariages, CAMGEW transforms the gender relations in patriarchal Mbororo communities.

Scalability: The project is a model of constructive cooperation and knowledge sharing with local and national public authorities and a broad range of stakeholders – research institutes, fondations, NGOs- making it replicable and scalable. Train the trainer scheme with use of local experts, enhances continuous learning and sustainability of this model. There are, for example, exchange visits between honey cooperatives, bee farmers and bee farmer groups. The Honeyshop is a demonstration centre for research, learning and marketing.

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Seed balls bombing connect urban with rural women to restore biodiversity in Tamil Nadu

Description of the project: The Seed Ball Project, launched by a women’s welfare association in Chennai, India, is a creative nature-based and social approach to stop deforestation. Trained rural women earn an income in producing seed balls out of gathered seeds and organic compost. Then “seed bombing” actions are carried out in 8 districts by 100 urban girls and women, in carefully selected areas with ideal growing conditions, so the seeds can flourish. Pupils join in throwing seed balls near their school and home during awareness campaigns. The broad public responds very positively to the project and helps to nurture the growing plants.

Climate impact: With a good growth rate the bombed seeds can curtail the effects of deforestation, reducing the carbon footprint, improving the water table and preserving biodiversity. The plant and tree seeds and the types of land and soil are carefully chosen to optimize results in different ecosystems. A tree is estimated to absorb about 22 kg of CO2 in one year. With 1500 seed balls dispersed since 2017, the association calculates that up to 33 tons of CO2 could be absorbed in one year by the grown trees. One variety of selected plants, Tulsi, are fully grown and release oxygen for 20 hours per day. They also have medicinal properties.

Gender impact: This pilot project generated sustainable income sources for 10 rural and 50 urban women. In rural areas, women gain skills in manufacturing and selling organic compost, and in urban settlements, women have learned how to produce wide varieties of seed balls, according to season and soil type, as well as to select adapted ecosystems for seed ball bombing. The beneficiaries have access to jobs and have become economic contributors to their families. These socially active and responsible women have inspired many others to reconstruct a livable space in their community.

Scalability: This project is easy to replicate and upscale, since it is based on a very simple technique with local natural materials, and with minimum human intervention for the seed balls to grow. Sanju Women’s Welfare Association has mobilized school institutions and the general public. The project is currently running at state-level in Tamil Nadu and could be extended in other states, with proper planning and mobilization. A team has been established to follow up on the growing seeds, monitor and report on the impact.

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Miticash- Citizen science

Description of the project: Miticash is a participatory science project which helps women smallholder farmers become citizen agronomists and contribute to climate resilience in drought prone Kenya, using conservation agriculture techniques. 630 women farmers from the arid lands of northeastern Kenya and Boni forest were trained on selecting and growing drought resistant crops, ensuring food security throughout the year for their communities. The project involves men, women, persons with disabilities and children equally in policy planning and implementation. Women assume leadership roles thanks to a train of trainers model, and take part in decision making processes to address the hunger challenges they face due to climate change. Miticash has provided green scholarship to 23 young girls.

Climate impact: With climate adapted crops and sustainable farming, vegetables and fruits grown in their gardens, women farmers reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Farmers also have stopped unsustainable practices like bush clearance or charcoal burning, which contributes to deforestation and environmental degradation. Over 300,000 trees seedlings have been planted in social institutions to encourage children to be nature enthusiasts. 40,000 tree species in the project’s seed bed will be planted to rehabilitate degraded ecosystems.

Gender impact: This initiative has empowered women smallholders, living in patriarchal communities, to be part of climate negotiations at the local or national level. The women are able to grow drought tolerant crops and have food security throughout the year for their family as well as manage all their farm affairs. This project has also given them a chance to own land and understand their rights. Miticash supports the goal of equal access to education by financing tuition fees to 23 vulnerable girls with a green scholarship.

Scalability: Women in the project area take part in 90% of the agricultural production activity but they practice unsustainable agriculture such as shifting cultivation and bush clearing, which contributes to deforestation. Using an approach called train the trainer, women smallholders are divided into groups and they will then choose their group leaders. The group leaders would undergo training and after that they will go back to their own group to train their members. This approach has ensured wider coverage and the same approach could be used to scale up and replicate this project.

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Women lead community actions to restore endangered coast ecosystems on the pacific island Palau

Description of the project : On small islands like Palau ecosystems are connected from ridge to reef, and inland degradation can become a significant threat to freshwater and coastal waters, diminishing the ability of mangroves and coral reefs to protect coasts. The project targets the states of Ngaremlengui and Ngiual in the Babeldaob watershed. Afforestation activities contribute since 2014 to climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is restoring bare land, ensuring water and food security, and guaranteeing mitigation measures for new housing through enhanced services from forest and mangrove ecosystems. This community led project has involved local women’s groups, youth groups, schools and households – over 550 people- for planting 1,117 native trees, 1084 vegetative strips (e.g. lemongrass strip) and ethnobotany trainings.

Climate impact: Ebiil Society’s project creates multiple benefits, increasing ecosystems’ and communities’ resilience to climate change impacts. These benefits include regulation of soil erosion and fertility loss, carbon sequestration, improved local climate, provision of freshwater resources, and restored habitat for various species. Over 2,600 trees and lemongrass were planted to resist floods and sediment runoff. Plants are grown in Ebiil’s plant nursery and distributed to households or bare soil areas at no cost to the community.

Gender impact: 12 women from the community were identified to lead the implementation of watershed restoration plans, promoting the decision making role of women on land and the matrilineal tradition of Palauan society. Access to trainings was guaranteed to women, men, boys and girls, while elderly women were encouraged to participate as carriers and trainers of traditional knowledge. The women’s groups benefited from capacity development programs in ethnobotany, plant collection and propagation, endangered species, sustainable home gardening, soil treatment and tree planting, and erosion control.

Scalability: Tree growth monitoring conducted in collaboration with Oregon State University informs best practices for planting, depending on species, soil and other environmental variables at restoration sites. This helps in scaling up efforts across the watershed. Methods have been refined over time to ensure resilience in poor soil conditions, bird propagation, social and economic value, as well as minimum maintenance. Afforestation and restoration of degraded land can be replicated in other States, as best practices and collected data can inform housing and construction management policies.

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Mayombe’s mamas produce banana chips to fight against deforestation

Project description: ESI Congo works on improving women’s livelihoods in the villages of Loaka and Magne in southwestern Congo while preserving the Mayombe forest. An agroforestry platform was created and is managed by a women’s group; the processing of plantains into banana chips and their sales provide new income to the wives of former hunters, offering a sustainable alternative to poaching. Plantains are provided by former hunters converted to agroforestry in order to curb traditional slash-and-burn farming practices in the forest. The responsible and ethical banana chips’ manufacturing provides a new value chain for plantains that are cultivated by 90% of the households of this area.

Climate Impact: The project is promoting products from local agroforestry in order to avoid felling trees over large areas (25 ha since 2017) for other agricultural purposes. Preserving the forest ensures a reduction in CO2 emissions and protects vital ecological niches, natural home of the great apes. The chip’s manufacturing process follows a comprehensive and environmentally friendly approach including low water consumption ( 50 l. of water for 15 kg of chips) and efficient firewood use of bamboo, an invasive species in this area.

Gender Impact: Women are given the opportunity to access jobs, which are rare for them in this region. They gain financial independence and a place in the local economy. This brings social, economic and environmental benefits for the whole community. Eleven women have received technical and entrepreneurship training; they are consulted in all strategic orientations thanks to horizontal decision-making processes. Their self confidence is being raised and they are encouraged to make active proposals so they can eventually manage the production unit independently.

Scalibility: Local authorities provided political support for this new economic activity, as well as logistical assistance through the donation of land for the chips production unit. The villagers want to increase the production rate in order to integrate more women. This local economic development model, based on ecosystem protection, is replicable in all countries where banana trees are grown and where the socio-cultural context allows to upgrade plantains products.

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Community Conservation Resilience Initiative (CCRI) in India

Description of the project: The CCRI carries out a participatory assessment and documentation of community conservation initiatives in the light of threats to their customary practices such as grazing and small scale agriculture, that secure their livelihoods. Communities in 3 ecologically diverse Indian states- Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat- identified external and internal threats and participated in capacity building and training workshops, as well as resource mapping and focus group discussions. The project also contributes to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2011-2020 Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets by providing bottom-up policy advice on effective and appropriate forms of community conservation.

Climate impact: Local communities’ and indigenous peoples’ customary knowledge and practices regarding sustainable management of forests and grasslands is essential for climate adaptation and mitigation. Indeed, they have proven to provide human groups with enough resources for their livelihoods without over-exploiting nature. This project supports communities in defending their rights and sustainable practices against the multifaceted effects of deforestation.

Gender impact: The CCRI fostered dialogue between women and other marginalised groups of Tadoba Tiger Reserve and Gond communities, Banni grasslands and pastoralists groups in Gujarat, or eastern Himalayas in Bengal and Rabha communities from Nepal. This assessment revealed that gender differences form the basis of roles and responsibilities for the use and conservation of biodiversity and natural resources. Amplifying women’s
voices in decision-making processes and allowing them access promotes gender equality and is central to protecting and recovering traditional knowledge.

Scalability / replicability: This project is part of the global CCRI program, with 68 communities conducting similar assessments in 22 countries, proving its scalability and replicability. It can easily generate effective support for community conservation initiatives by highlighting the benefits of biodiversity conservation as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation. If policy and decision-makers integrate the CCRI recommendations made by local  communities, especially women, this powerful initiative will be further expanded.

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