Gender implications of forest product value chains in the Congo Basin

Published

Ingram V, Schure J, Chupezi Tieguhong J, Ousseynou N, Awono A, Midoko Iponga D. 2014. Forests, Trees and Livelihoods, 23(1–2):67–86.

As part of CIFOR’s research project in West and Central Africa funded by the European Commission and the Common Fund for Commodities, this study analyses value chains of 13 nontimber forest products (NTFPs) from a gender perspective in the Congo Basin (Cameroon, DRC and Gabon). The major objectives of the study are to: (i) explore gender relations in the NTFP value chains; (ii) identify benefits accruing to men and women in NTFP value chains originating in the Congo Basin and (iii) assess if and how interventions in the chains impact gender roles and benefits, and the opportunities and constraints to enhancing women’s economic empowerment. The research methods included 8000 interviews, 61 focus group interviews, 7 situation/problem analysis workshops and participatory action research with honey, Prunus africana, fuelwood and charcoal actors.

The results of the study suggest that while NTFPs constitute an important income source for both women and men, women tend to harvest more for domestic consumption while men sell a larger share of their harvest. Men are overrepresented in harvesting and exporting of products of higher economic value; they participate more as the products increase in value, (male appropriation of resources) especially in instances when customary rules govern tenure and access, and they often profit more from the value chains. Women tend to support more household members with the revenue they get from NTFPs. The factors that prevent women from increasing their share of benefits from participating in these value chains include lack of customary ownership of trees, male appropriation of economically viable products, and difficulties in accessing credit. Some of the policy guidance of the study includes:

  • recognizing women’s and men’s roles in various value chains for targeted and effective interventions;
  • supporting women to cultivate currently overharvested NTFPs;
  • addressing customary gender norms preventing women’s ownership of resources;
  • supporting collective action in order to strengthen women’s bargaining power;
  • improving value-adding opportunities;
  • providing women with access to credit.
To learn more about this project, contact: Verina Ingram, verina_ingram@hotmail.com

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