Bridgers Association Cameroon

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION

The experiences and perspectives of women are essential to sustainable development policymaking.

TREE PLANTING TO CURB
CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change happens to be one of the main crises faced in our society today and the world at large. Tree planting is a key and important strategy of combating climate change, Bridgers Association Cameroon has adopted this concept and is currently working and soliciting support nationally and internationally, to embark on planting 15,000 trees in Cameroon in five regions within the next 3 years.
 
In this venture, Bridgers aims to plant amongst other trees fruit trees which have multiple effects to the beneficiaries and the environment as well.
 
We look forward to encourage through training and building the capacities of local beneficiaries in our communities on the planting of Non Timber Forest Products which are of very high demand in the market. These NTFP and fruit trees on maturity will not only serve environmental purpose but will go a long way to improve on the livelihoods to the beneficiary individually and communities.
 
Augustina Meh Fresh from the United States of America where she worked on environmental restoration with Earth Corps, she believes tree planting/reforestation is one of the best and major solutions to climate change. With her knowledge and skills, we are confident about attaining our goal of tree planting.
 
She is using her experience and knowledge to provide solutions to global environmental challenges for a more sustainable world.

WOMEN & ENVIRONMENT

Across the regions and cultures of the world, women play critical roles in relation to their natural environment. Often deeply dependent on available natural resources for food, fuel and shelter, women can be particularly vulnerable to environmental changes or threats. Because women’s workload is often centered on managing natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystems, their experiences and perspectives are essential to sustainable development policymaking and actions at every level, for a healthy planet for generations to come.

GENDER & CLIMATE CHANGE

The effects of climate change are felt everywhere in the world. But in most African countries, they have determining and life-changing impacts. The impacts of climate change in Africa include a rise in the sea level, coastal erosion, reduction of fresh water resources, deforestation, an increase in the intensity and recurrence of disasters and the spread of malaria, which makes Africa being the most affected continent of climate change (Boko et al. 2007; World Bank 2010b).
 
Climate change is not gender-neutral. It does affect men and women differently- even more so in rural areas of the African continent. Climate change thus gains a social dimension: As a result of different gender-based roles in the society, women are more dependent on natural resources, such as agriculture, which is highly climate-sensitive. Women and girls are the primary collectors, users and managers of water-supply. Hence, due to a decrease in rainfall, as it is the case in Southern Cameroon, riverbeds dry out which means women have to spend much more time and effort in order to fetch water. This increase of workload has another “side-effect” that leads to some important indicators which feed gender-based inequalities, such as lower school enrolment figures or less opportunity to engage in income-generating activities.
 
About 60% – 80% of the food-crops, especially for subsistence economy, are produced by women, but they own only 10% of the land suitable for cultivation (Rodenberg 2009). Female farmers have multiple responsibilities (food-production, household, care-taker) but are little involved in decision-making-processes.
 
The South-West region of Cameroon constitutes a hotspot, concerning bio-diversity, as it has a rich and diverse eco-system. However, uncontrolled land acquisition, large-scale agroforestry, illegal forest exploitation, poaching, and wildfires, coupled with unpredictable climatic and seasonal changes, have negatively affected the area. The main cash crops cultivated include cocoa, plantains, cocoyams, and cassava. The productivity of such is rather low due to little use of modern agricultural inputs. Most communities are largely dependent on the forest and surroundings for income generation and food security. The other important source for income-generation constitute large plantations. But such paid wage-activities are mostly for male members of a household and led to a strong migration.
 
Most rural communities in Cameroon are highly dominated by gender inequality. Women are responsible for the household duties, while men manage family assets, earn money for daily needs and make important decisions. Women don’t have access to and control over productive resources, services and land, which is crucial for their activities. Access to extension rural advisory services is vital for climate change adaption and mitigation, as it provides important information. But women seem to participate rarely in extension meetings due to their multiple responsibilities. They seem to focus more indigenous knowledge, while men use more advanced skills, especially in cocoa production, which they acquired from farmer field schools.
The main piece of land I am working on belongs to my husband; the little he now has, after the creation of the park, led to seizure of part of our land. It is family land that he inherited from his father. I cannot cultivate crops such as cocoa that takes several years to mature because he could decide to sell it. I do not pray for trouble, but I know that especially if the family is faced with difficulties, he will prefer to sell the land where I am working on than his cocoa farm. I prefer to plant crops such as tomatoes, beans, cassava, cocoyams as they have a short maturation period. More so, planting these types of crops helps me to provide food for my family and sell surplus. I equally have a small piece of land which I bought last year. I am thinking of cultivating cocoa on it as cocoa, though seasonal, brings in large sums of money.” Female farmer, Munyenge[1]

OUR IDEAS AND STRATEGIES TO APPROACH THE ISSUE...

First of all, it is important for us to approach the issue in a holistic and sustainable manner. We therefore take an inter-sectional approach, which highlights the importance on addressing different societal levels. We aim to approach the issue by implementing the following strategies:
  1. Creation of a climate resilient food-system
Introduction of a change of crop-choice and a modification of traditional practices (dry planting, early planting, use of drought-tolerant seeds, livelihood diversification, diversification of crops, mulching, water storage, and natural barriers)
 
  1. Training and workshops concerning rural advisory services for men and women
Providing professional advisory services and access to relevant information for both, men and women.
 
  1. Economic empowerment of women
Offering Women another source of income-generating activities (e.g. “Green business strategies”)
  1. Working with the whole community
Target leaders and decision-makers to stress the importance of an equal decision-making process and communication in the households between men and women, especially concerning land-use and choice of crops
 
  1. Sensitization of decision-makers, development institutions and Policy
Offering workshops and training to target institutions and hence a structural level. Though many institutions are aware of gender-based inequalities, this knowledge is not yet put into practise. Therefore, we want to come up with a practical approach and solutions which address the structural level.
 
[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318324653_Gender_Climate_Change_and_Resilient_Food_Systems_Lessons_fro