A comparative analysis of household owned woodlots and fuelwood sufficiency between female and male headed households : a pilot study in rural Malawi, Africa Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/0p096914v

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  • Fuelwood is a basic need for rural households in Malawi. However, deforestation has reduced the quantity of forest products such as fuelwood available to households. This has negatively affected rural Malawian quality of life, especially for women who are forced to walk long distances to collect fuelwood, prepare foods with short cooking times, or reduce the number of meals. The Malawi government has encouraged the establishment of household owned woodlots, as a part of reforestation programs, to address the supply side of the forest product scarcity. However, fuelwood supply and use is also a gender-based issue; men plant trees and make decisions over harvesting, while women gather and use fuelwood. Within the household, woodlot products also have multiple and competing uses between men and women. It is critical to examine how gender dynamics affect women's fuelwood procurement and use from the woodlot. This study investigated how gender of the household head and women's access to woodlots affects fuelwood shortage, controlling for number of trees, household size, and use of other fuels. Fifty-one female and sixty-three male-headed households with household owned woodlots were interviewed, using questionnaire and focus group interviews. Results show that one-third of both household types reported experiencing fuelwood shortages in the past year. Logistic regression indicates that gender of household head is an important factor, along with number of trees in the woodlot, in determining fuelwood sufficiency. Female-headed households were less likely to experience fuelwood shortage than male-headed households when the interaction with number of trees was included. Whether a woman in male-headed households must seek permission to harvest fuelwood, number of trees, and cooking with maize stalk were factors that predicted fuelwood shortage. Suggestions for several interventions to address fuelwood supply and access were included. Planting more trees in woodlots and use of fuelwood efficient stoves are two important strategies. It is important to address gender-specific priorities as they relate to woodlot use. This can be done through gender sensitizations that target program planners and male household heads. For successful programs, men and women should participate in both program planning and implementation.
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