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 its activities: agroforestry and organic farming with cattle breeding, plant nurseries, beekeeping, business skills trainings for 1580 women, including 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, foundations, 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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Women solar engineers crossing frontiers to spread clean, affordable energy solutions in rural communities

Description of the project: This South-South cooperation between grassroots communities of India and Cameroon builds women’s capacities as solar engineers that provide energy solutions adapted to local needs around agriculture, household electrification and education. Thanks to the Barefoot College in India, 20 women in the Fako district of Cameroon have been trained to install solar panels, lamps, dryers and mills, benefiting 400 families. As educators and engineers of sustainable solutions, rural women are effectively empowered in their community and within a worldwide pioneering movement.

Climate impact: Replacing fossil fuel and firewood with decentralized solar energy in rural households and villages bears an immense potential for climate mitigation, income generation and social welfare in the global South. 250 kerosene lanterns, each emitting approximately 200kg of CO2/year, were replaced by solar lamps, reducing 50 t. CO2. Further solar energy solutions installed in 400 households saved another 80 t. CO2. Such local impact can be scaled up nationally.

Gender impact: This project tackles gender inequality in the rural South via solidarity-based intercultural exchange. Four grassroot “grandmas”, trained by the Barefoot College in India to become solar energy experts and agents of change, have trained 20 rural women in Cameroon to spread clean energy solutions in their communities. All have enhanced their right to access vocational education and equal opportunities; they have improved their social status and decision making power at the community level.

Scalability / replicability: Barefoot College is a long established grassroot movement that has disseminated an exemplary model of local appropriation and successful replication in over 70 countries. Building on this South-South cooperation, the Rural Women Development Center aims to scale-up this program by building a rural training center and doubling the number of beneficiaries.

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Africa kitchen revolution: training women on transferable mud-building techniques

Description of the project: BWC offers a simple, low cost, sustainable alternative to heavy use of solid fuel by building clean cookstoves with mud-building techniques and local materials. The main objectives of this participatory project are to: improve the livelihood of women by training them on the construction of low-emitting mud cookstoves, reduce air pollution, improve health, and enhance women’s participation in community engagement. Reaching 300 beneficiaries in 30 communities, BWC has held 10 participatory stove building workshops with women’s groups; held training of trainers; supported the establishment of partnerships and cooperatives fostering income generation; organised annual meetings for all trainees.

Climate impact: In rural Cameroon, 98% of the population are using large amounts of firewood and charcoal for cooking. This is causing deforestation, CO2 emissions, heavy indoor air pollution and affecting the health of the women cooking. Following the Paris Agreement, this project builds on a bottom-up approach to fight climate change. With the improved cookstoves, BWC expects firewood consumption in the communities to be reduced by 60-70%, resulting in less pressure on forests and reduced health impacts.

Gender impact: Women are gaining technical skills (building and repairing cookstoves) originally carried out by men in the communities. The adopted skills are easily transferable and over 12 women beneficiaries have engaged in the construction of mud buildings. With less time spent on collecting firewood and cooking, women have more time for other activities. 20 women have formed a trainer’s network, empowering more women to engage in local advocacy and income generating activities.

Scalability / replicability: The mud-building technique is easy to replicate, adapt and upscale as it uses simple technology with available local, natural, ecological and low cost materials. This project also relies on a Global Ecovillage Network and an online Solutions Library with one-page introductions and overviews of technical alternatives. Developing and implementing sustainable long-lasting projects in local ownership is one of the foundations of climate change adaptation and mitigation, which requires a truly participatory approach.

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South-south, grassroots women based technology transfer for solar electricity

Description of the project: The project is a gender responsive green energy project which focuses on providing low cost solar electricity to grassroots communities. It is based on south-south technology transfer by women organizations with capacity building on environmental conservation and alternative income generating activities. It improves community livelihood with 98 solar electrified households direct beneficiaries, and 500 inhabitants through improved revenues. It empowers women through trainings and active participation.

Climate Impact: Emissions reduction through the use of solar energy for electricity in 98 households; re-planting of 5000 indigenous fruit trees on 50ha of deforested land. Awareness raising on environmental conservation. Reduced human pressure on forests, reduced indoor air pollution and environmental hazards.

Gender Impact: Using a gender approach through the cooperation of women’s organizations from 2 south countries : India (Barefoot College) and Cameroon. 4 trained grandmother engineers shared their knowledge with 17 local community members (12 women, 5 young men). Additionally, women farmers were trained on tree-planting and sustainable production of non-timber forest products. Women participate equally in decision-making and implementation. Improved household income through reduced electricity costs. Women’s empowerment through the creation of green jobs, and increased solidarity among community members.

Scalability /replicability: The project will be up-scaled in 2 more communities with over 300 households (1300 inhabitants). The replicability is ensured by the cooperation with Barefoot College grandmothers network, as they train grassroots women and support local community councils.

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