To Identify Potential Risks Associated with Climate Change and Land Degradation Facing the Communities in Laisamis (Mention the Key Threats, Who Is Most at Risk, Why)
Overall, extreme climatic conditions linked to climate change mostly mentioned by the respondents include severe and prolonged drought, increased flood occurrences (El Niño), extreme heat caused by high temperatures, low and irregular rainfall patterns, and disease outbreaks, e.g., malaria and diarrhea. In the month of April 2019 (Kenya 2019), seven people were confirmed dead following the outbreak of kala-azar
vector (sand fly) disease in Marsabit County
mainly in Laisamis subcounty. This insect is most active in humid environments during the warmer months and at night, from dusk to dawn. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 14 March 2019 report, this disease which mainly affects the poorest people on Earth is linked to environmental changes such as deforestation, building of dams, irrigation schemes, and urbanization. Environmental management hence cited important in reducing or interrupting transmission of this disease (Fig. 5).
Intensified pressure on natural resources is attributed to water scarcity, limited pasture, increased deforestation, limited access to firewood, soil and wind erosion, and along the river beds overharvesting of sand. Risks associated with climate change have also led to loss of livelihoods and food insecurity leading to death or poor health of livestock, low crop yields, increased charcoal burning for sale, and loss of wild fruits and seeds/fodder usually consumed by human and livestock during severe drought. Hunger and malnutrition manifest itself in these cases. Some of the social challenges include displacements/migration; conflict over natural resources; increased crime, e.g., cattle raiding; school dropouts; family breakdown; and poverty. One of the respondents emphasized that during drought “only one out of five children attends schools” hence higher levels of illiteracy in the region. In a men FGD, one respondent expressed threats associated with morans marrying their women since the younger men can offer better living conditions than the older ones.
91% of the respondents reported that women and children are the most at risk in these circumstances. The reproductive roles undertaken solely by women were emphasized to increase their vulnerability in negative climate change impacts. For instance, when men migrate in search of pasture, women take up full responsibility for households; conflicts due to pressure on natural resources leave women most affected because of their weak levels of defense, and hunger caused by drought deteriorates health of pregnant and lactating mothers including children under five. The men-only FGD confirmed that a woman had been killed in the process of protecting her children when an enemy attacked their household and the man had migrated with large herds in search of pasture. Limitations on decision-making and utilization of valuable resources that can help support them while in need, e.g., livestock, land, and large-scale sale of tree value chains, are mainly men-dominated, and they shared justifications to this. This emphasizes the critical need of enhancing women participation in sustainable natural resource management while exploring the potentials FMNR has in increasing their resilience to climate change (Fig. 6).
Assess the Opportunities FMNR Has in Increasing the Resilience of the Communities to these Risks (Define FMNR, Its Key Benefits from an Environmental, Economic, Social View, etc.)
The FGDs and KIIs were sought to explore FMNR benefits in resilience-building among the communities (Fig. 7). Adaptation and mitigation opportunities came out strongly with environmental conservation benefits leading, followed by enhanced availability of pasture for livestock and increased food security which aside from addressing the domestic household needs also offered better economic opportunities. Respondents confirmed that FMNR is an adaptable approach to land restoration
especially in an ASAL context since it is easy to apply and inclusive (done by men, women, people living with disabilities, and children) and has high success rates, community bylaws, and regulation control in tree harvesting, thus reducing pressure caused by overharvesting of trees. Invasion of Prosopis juliflora (mathenge) in Marsabit is a menace, but FMNR management practices applied to this species have enabled better management. Increased access to high-value indigenous trees, e.g., wild fruits and Acacia pods, was cited by the pastoralists especially women as a critical feed for human and livestock especially during severe drought and for medicinal purposes. Often, women are the repository of extensive botanical knowledge since they know the traditional uses of many species. One woman says “Such trees are a mystery to us, without which we perish. Acacia tree pods and flowers can feed livestock for 10 months in scarcity of grass.” Less migration of people and livestock is experienced where FMNR is practiced due to availability of pasture/fodder throughout the year. This reduced the burden of women being household heads during prolonged drought. They also mentioned the link between improved health and productivity of their livestock which ultimately addresses food security and economic empowerment since their livestock fetches higher market rates and increased milk and meat production offers nutrition needs as well as excess for markets. FMNR strengthens knowledge in tree-based value chains, thus enhancing diversification of livelihood opportunities from wood and non-wood forest products (NWFPs), e.g., trade in gums and resins, honey, gum arabic, firewood, acacia pods, wild fruits, etc. Respondents also brought out the FMNR social aspects in which cultural and religious attachments to specific species of trees enhanced their protection and management, e.g., there are species used during marriage, circumcision, and sacred events.
What Are the Roles of Men and Women in Uptake of FMNR
The objective explored the different roles played by men and women in the uptake of FMNR practice. This was based on the domestic chores undertaken by men and women in the family and community setup. It was evident that women are directly responsible for care and management of trees due to many derived benefits they accrue from the trees that enable them run their families. In all the mentioned roles of women, protection and use of the tree resources were most significant. Men, on the other hand, mainly offer administrative roles in control of the natural resource. Out of the nine roles played by men in uptake of the practice, five are mainly in management and control of use of the resources. Both men and women have equally economic interest role rates in the practice of FMNR. Trade in livestock, gum and resin, seeds, and wild fruit collection is done by both. Management and utilization of tree resources especially in large scale is reserved for men. It was interesting to note that development and enforcement of bylaws or regulations for environmental protection significantly sit on men (Fig. 8).
Generally, women often manage sheep and goats as they tend to be kept closer to the homestead. Women also tend to be left responsible for the home herd of cattle and camels when men take others on migration. As such, women’s roles in livestock and environmental management should not be underestimated, and often their knowledge on livestock as well as grazing areas, migration routes, and water points is rich. Women and men typically have different objectives for keeping animals, different authorities and responsibilities, and different abilities to access and use new information and improved technologies. These differences may lead them to have different priorities regarding investments in the adoption of new technologies and practices and/or different ideas about how best food and livelihood security can be attained through embracing FMNR.
What Drives Women to Participate in or to Adopt FMNR
From both FGD and KII interviews, FMNR ability to enhance access to immediate household basic needs, e.g., firewood, feeds (for human and livestock), building and fencing materials, and beddings, was cited as the most important driver to women participation in uptake of this practice (Fig. 9). Continued deforestation in Laisamis has led women walking long distances in search of firewood; one women reported walking 8 h (to and fro) to collect water and firewood from far off hills. Acacia pods offer nutritious feed for livestock especially during drought when pasture is limited, wild fruits have been a significant source of food in households, both seeds and wild fruits are also sold in the market, and women are mostly involved in this business. Alongside this, economic returns from sale of products from the environmental services accrued as a result of FMNR boosts women to participate in savings and loaning schemes, thus enabling them to expand and diversify their businesses/livelihood opportunities and increase their income levels. As they easily access basic immediate need through FMNR, women have more time to explore participating in other interventions like poultry keeping and kitchen gardening for nutrition and markets. One of the respondents noted that “Women will go to great lengths to extract resources they need to take care of their families including entering dangerous insecure areas such as no-go zones which put them at risk of rape, kidnapping and killing.” Improved health of livestock enhances the prices and increases milk production which is valuable to women. Ease in application and transferring of knowledge and practice of FMNR including its social benefits was ranked third in women drivers in uptake of FMNR. Participants affirmed the low-cost approach would best suit women since they are most vulnerable, and the more expensive an approach, the lesser application they would have of it. Majority of women in the region are illiterate; hence, the simplicity in the practice enhances women participation. Environmental benefits
from FMNR were equally a factor since severely degraded landscapes are key threats to women because this deprives them access to basic ecosystem services. Marsabit is generally a dry place with high temperatures; FMNR increases tree cover that provides shade required by human and livestock. Women appreciated the importance of shade for resting and relaxing after daily chores. In some instances, goats have equally died due to prolonged exposure to very high temperatures, thus underpinning the importance of trees offering shade. Bare land exposes the community to excessive dust which further than contaminating food and causes eye and respiratory problems. Strong winds in the area have led to destruction of property; hence, trees play an important role as they serve as wind breaks.
Key Barriers Affecting Women Participation in FMNR
The main barrier limiting effective women participation in uptake of FMNR mentioned by all the respondents is excess workload
on women which affects their concentration and consistency in rollout of FMNR since their attention is diverged to addressing domestic chores and reproductive roles at household (Fig. 10). Severe drought and increased water stress necessitate this challenge overburdening women the more. Ignorance and lack of knowledge was cited as threat to uptake of this approach since it is likely to limit transfer of knowledge and skills. Most women in this community are illiterate, for instance, in women-only FGD, 90% of the respondents were only exposed to informal education and could only speak their local language, hence causing communication barriers in new knowledge transfers. Inability to make full decisions over management and utilization of tree resources as well as livestock that have direct linkage to success of FMNR was equally a challenge the women faced as observed by the respondents. Women’s subordinate position in society, and their diminished access to information, education, and training, affects their participation in decision-making and public life. This is sometimes attributed to the cultural norms like overstocking by men depicting wealth and pride. Land ownership also rests on men; hence, women have limited power to make decisions on resources on land. Traditional institutions that offer guidance and leadership are mainly comprised of men; in fact, council of elders which is the highest traditional institution is purely composed of men. Women also need the security of knowing that they will have equal decision-making power in how resources and incomes from FMNR work will be used. This is especially important for women-headed households. Low economic returns
and long-term benefits expected from trees and NWFPs minimize the interest of women in land restoration efforts including FMNR. The respondents acknowledged the many income sources from tree-based value chains, but the low market prices make the venture not worthwhile. For instance, they cited case of gums and resins which cost 200/kg in their locality, yet the same goes for 1000/= in the urban areas. This makes them feel exploited. Lack of organized market systems for the FMNR value chains limits women’s return on the investments in the practice, thus derailing their efforts. Vastness of the area and limited transport means makes it even more difficult for knowledgeable people to create awareness of the approach due to logistical challenges. Minimal community and least concerted partner support to address this challenges derails passion among the existing women champions who strive to promote uptake of FMNR in the community.
Recommendations for Enhancing Women Participation in FMNR Uptake
Intense awareness and improved capacity for women to participate in FMNR was identified as most critical need in influencing their uptake of this approach (Fig. 11). This could be achieved through trainings, exposure to successful sites, and increased access to quality germplasm required by women. Gaps in effective monitoring and evaluation of projects have previously affected success of the projects; the respondents emphasized the need to have community-led monitoring, evaluation, and learning model for FMNR approach which are women-led, inclusive, and responsive. This will ensure women own this approach and integrate it in their daily activities. For instance, women are main beneficiaries of firewood; it’s easy for them to include pruning and protecting of trees as they harvest firewood. The respondents also noted low involvement of community and partners in environmental conservation initiatives which then becomes a barrier to success of implementing this approach since it requires everyone. Drought management and increased water access is key in reducing pressure women are exposed to in addressing household needs which would then give them time to get fully involved in FMNR activities. This continues to emphasize the need to invest more in adaptation and mitigation efforts to improve community resilience to climate change effects. More efforts are also required to ensure women meaningfully participate in decision-making and have leadership roles in natural resource management as they are the most at risk and have the ability to offer best solutions. In circumstances where women and men have equal access to productive resources, control over those resources is usually vested in men. Across all the above objectives, economic returns have been mentioned driver to investments by community in land restoration. While interrogating this further in the recommendations, respondents cited the need to strengthen the market systems and value chains along FMNR and other sustainable natural resource management approaches as this will attract more people to invest in the models. There are very many opportunities in FMNR that both address mitigation and adaptation which economic incentives would propel greatly. “Why can’t private sector and research actors explore marketing or adding value to acacia pods from acacia tree that is proved to enhance milk production and health in goats and is the main livestock feed of all pastoral communities that take them from one drought season into the rainy seasons? The market for this product is disorganized hence no adequate return on investment, yet this can be big driver for pastoralists to bring back acacia trees on land which provide other multiple benefits” reiterates one of the respondents.