Recovering banana production in bunchy top-affected areas in Sub-Saharan Africa: developing gender-responsive approaches

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Banana bunchy top disease (BBTD), an invasive and devastating viral disease, is widespread in banana-producing areas in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recovery of banana production in BBTD-affected areas was undertaken in a research project through the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (CRP-RTB) in eight countries. Understanding household and community dynamics is vital to recovery because decision-making on banana production and resource allocation occur at household level, while opportunity structures for men and women to engage in such work are influenced by social norms expressed both at household and community levels. Studies were undertaken to understand gender norms, practices and experiences in intra- and inter household and community dynamics related to banana farming in BBTD-affected areas. A standardized methodology was applied in all sites including household survey, gender seasonal calendar, daily activity schedule and a community profile. Results from analysis of four cases studies from Burundi, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria indicated that banana is an important crop for both female and male farmers in all pilot sites and considered as both a staple food and a source of income. Men, women and male and female children are all involved in different banana production activities at household level; some mostly done by men assisted by male children (land preparation in DRC (95%), Nigeria (83%), Gabon (82.5%) and Burundi (64%)) while others are mostly done by women assisted by female children (watering, weeding in Kisangani (87%)). Men and women have differential use, control and ownership rights to different types of productive resources within the household which have implications for effective BBTD control and the benefits derived. Insights from the study will be used to develop guidelines for the incorporation of gender-responsive strategies into the design and implementation of BBTD control strategies.

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