Community participation in decision making on access to forest resources under collaborative forest management framework in Bwindi (BINP): A gender perspective
Forests resources contribute significantly to the livelihoods of females and males in forest edge communities. In Uganda, under the Collaborative Forest management Framework (CFM), community participation in decision making is provided for through choosing members to occupy executive positions. The study examined processes and enabling factors to community participation in decision making under CFM. It examined the differences in participation of females compared to males in the ways they make decisions as members of the community which seeks to have access and use the forest resources under CMF. As community members engage in making decisions, there are differences in participation of females compared to males. This study focused on Bwindi forest edge community, Kanungu district; Kayonza County’s participation in decision making on access to forest resources from Bwindi Impenetrable forest Park in South Western Uganda. It specifically examined community participation in decision making, the benefits from community participation in decision making on males and females, access to forest resources under CFM and analyzed how community participation under CFM depicts the connectedness of gender roles in the use of forestry resources. Interviewing method using semi structured questionnaires were administered to randomly selected 120 respondents of which half were females. In addition to individual in-depth interviews; key informant interviews and focus group discussions were used. Socio-economic characteristics of respondents included, sex, age, marital status, occupation and their location in relation to the edge of the forest park while theoretical concepts such as gender, participation and access guided data analysis. Findings revealed that although both men and women participated in decision making on access to forest resources, men had more opportunities to make decisions on access to forest resources due to their ability to voice their interests during meetings than women. Community participation involved choosing community members to constitute CFM leaders. They participated in decision making in positions of Chairperson, Secretary, treasurer and women representative. The findings revealed that the number of males was more than the number of females which disadvantaged the women. The decision on accessed forest resources was reached during UWA and village members’ meeting. The findings revealed that males and females accessed the same forest resources and their uses were relatively the same. The findings enabled application of theoretical, methodological and drawing conclusions on community participation in decision making on access to forest resources under the CFM. At the theoretical level, the study indicates that eco-feminism theory provides a perspective for analysis of women’s participation in decision making on access to forest resources under the CFM. At the methodological level, the need for employing quantitative and qualitative methods to capture the various dimensions of men and women’s participation in decision making on access to forest resources. At policy and management level, these findings advocate for the need to understand community as a variable context and analyze the impact of policy measures within a gender sensitive framework. Thus, a balanced look at gender processes is essential to ensure increased women’s active participation in decision making under CFM. The study provided new knowledge that women can make decisions in forest resource management if they are provided space to voice their interests based on their gender roles and needs for forest resources.
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