Potential Of Woodlot Establishment In Meeting The Practical And Strategic Gender Needs Of Women In The Upper West Region Of Ghana
The formation of women\'s groups has become an important instrument for addressing various gender challenges in development. Both practical needs and strategic interests have been cited as motivating and propelling the need to integrate women\'s concerns in development. In the Upper West Region of Ghana, women\'s groups have been involved in woodlot cultivation as a means to addressing the problems of environmental degradation arising from domestic fuel-wood consumption. The endeavor has entailed the cultivation of plantations, which on maturity are harvested for domestic energy use and income generation. This paper presents, in part, an assessment of various governmental and non-governmental initiatives in the Upper West Region of Ghana for the extent to which it addresses women\'s practical needs while working toward strategic ends. Data were collected on participating women\'s groups in three districts: Wa East, Lawra and Nadowli. A field survey was conducted using participatory rural appraisal tools including key informant interviews, questionnaire and focus group discussions. Data derived from the survey were analyzed using flow analysis and logistic regression analysis. These revealed that the initial capital requirement for woodlot establishment was quite high for the women. As such credit for woodlot establishment and maintenance was very necessary and critical. Indeed, the most important factor influencing the women\'s decision to participate in woodlots was access to credit. The analysis also revealed that the NPV at 20% and 25% are ¢5,228,526 and ¢3,571,352 respectively, the discounted BCR at 20% and 25% are 3.4 and 2.7 respectively and the computed financial internal rate of return (FIRR) is 48.2%. Though all these values indicate that woodlots are profitable ventures, the actual benefit in terms of value of produce to individual women was found to be too small. Consequently, it was concluded that although the establishment of woodlots did address the practical needs of women by providing fuel for domestic use and served as good entry points for further interventions to address the practical needs further, they did not adequately serve the strategic interests of the women.
Keywords: keywoStrategic Interests, Practical Needs, Woodlot Plantation, fuel-wood, domestic energy needs
Studies in Gender and Development in Africa Vol. 1 (1) 2007: pp. 21-42