Women and landscape restoration: a preliminary assessment of women-led restoration activities in Cameroon

Abstract

The Bonn Challenge and AFR100 initiatives have set out to achieve 350 and 100 million hectares of restoration targets, respectively, by 2030. Cameroon recently announced an intention to restore 12 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030 and seeks support from both initiatives. The degraded lands proposed for restoration under these initiatives are widespread across west and central Africa, in particular focusing on farmland. Small-holder land uses are widely recognized as both important for livelihoods and as drivers of land use change and degradation in Africa. Women in Central Africa make up more than 60% of the rural agricultural workforce, and as such, their role in restoration is critical. This preliminary assessment specifically examines some restoration actions implemented by women’s groups in Cameroon. Findings demonstrate that, although Cameroon’s rural women are still defined by the traditional gender constraints facing most of Africa’s rural poor, including women and other vulnerable groups, important restoration successes managed by women exist. Future restoration efforts can be built on such successes. Two key factors appearing to drive this success are technical and material support that rural women’s associations are receiving through their linkages to more established NGOs, women’s organizations and knowledge centres. As Cameroon begins to make progress towards meeting her Bonn Challenge and AFR100 targets, these findings call for identification of additional features of NGOs and Women’s groups where greater investments to strengthen performance and participation in landscape restoration should be made. Capitalizing on the knowledge of success factors by providing direct technical and material support through NGOs and networks to grassroots women’s groups can be low-hanging fruits for restoration. Such capitalization would come at a time when urgent on-the-ground progress is needed in restoring degraded lands in Cameroon and Africa.

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Fig. 1

Source: GLC2000 EU Joint research Project (2003) and MINEF, WRI (2007)

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Acknowledgements

The authors heartily thank IUCN; the regional Forest Program, the Cameroon Office and the Pro-poor REDD+ Offices all based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, for their support and guidance on the contexts of the assessment. Special recognition goes to Gretchen Walters, expert at IUCN Gland, for proof-reading the accepted manuscript. Our thanks also go to the representatives of the Cameroon Civil Society Organizations and other non-State institutions who provided information as a part of the survey; they include: Rose MASSO of REFACOF, Albertine Tchoulack of REFADD, Rodrigue Ngonzo of FODER, Madame Bouba of AIWO CAN, Emmanuel Sama of INADES, Bamenda, Aissatou Bouba of The Forum Des Femmes Autochtones Du Cameroun (FFAC), Djidja Djaili Garga of Green Safe, Alifa Mahamat of SODECOTON, Julienne Djakaou Of AGIR, Oumoul Ousmanou of MINADER Maroua, Cameroon, Claire Ateba of Task Force Genre, REDD+, and Bernadette Wen Losha of ACTWID Kongadzem, Bamenda. Furthermore, the authors wish to state that the arguments, questions and issues raised in the paper are incidental to the survey, are purely for scientific knowledge purposes and do not in any shape or form represent the positions on gender responsiveness, mainstreaming or equity of the IUCN.

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Mbile, P.N., Atangana, A. & Mbenda, R. Women and landscape restoration: a preliminary assessment of women-led restoration activities in Cameroon. Environ Dev Sustain 21, 2891–2911 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-018-0165-4

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Keywords

  • Women
  • Landscape restoration
  • Africa
  • NGOs