III. Analysis of findings
Efforts to integrate women into tree planting activities have been directly related to local traditions concerning women's mobility, and women's access to water and land. Where there are gender-based spatial restrictions and women do not move freely outside of their immediate compounds, forestry projects have been able to overcome this constraint and interest women in planting trees within their yards as a means of producing shade and animal fodder. Preferred species include Azadirichta indica, Albizia lebbek, Prosopis juliflora and Eucalyptus sp..
Projects such as SOS Sahel and UNSO-Ed Damer have taken women's interest in reforestation a step further and trained women to grow trees in both group and individual home nursery settings. Participation in these nurseries has taught women new technical skills as well as increasing their confidence to assume public responsibilities. In several cases, it has turned out to be a 'stepping stone' to increased participation for women in village woodlots. While community nurseries are usually provided with a well and/or a pump by forestry projects because water is at a premium in many areas of Sudan, the extent of home nurseries is often limited by the availability of water.
Community forests have been conceived as a means to furnish a local supply of wood for fuel, fodder and construction. Woodlots take on gender-specific meaning relative to the underlying land allocation arrangements structuring the right to plant and harvest the tree crop. They would appear to hold several different dimensions that attract women's participation. Women voice their (i) desire to participate in the development and environmental protection of their communities. Fuelwood lots fulfill these aims.
In Northern Darfur where women cultivate millet, they have been encouraged to plant their crop in between the 4m X 4m spacing used for the trees. Survival rates are recorded by project agents at the moment of harvesting when it becomes easier to locate the small trees. The rates in women's plots and woodlots are significantly better than those for the community woodlots. In this, they bear out the observation of the FNC forest director in Southern Darfur that, "women take better care of their trees than men". Under a common system of land tenure, village sheiks hold land on behalf of the community. Thus, (ii) few women enjoy direct access to this natural resource. According to female extensionists working in the region, this is an important factor in women's positive response to woodlot actions.
Several projects have introduced agro-forestry techniques to women farmers, such as intercropping of leguminous hashab with the rainfed crops grown in jewbrakas, and live fencing as windbreak protection. However, not all communities have organized jewbrakas ringing the perimeter of the village. Where land is at a premium, not all women in a settled community that does have kitchen gardens may have space that is considered their own. For those women fortunate enough to have plots, what is grown there is entirely up to them.
Still, intercropping with Acacia senegal or Acacia seyal carries a gender-specific risk for a woman farmer. Should the price of hashab remain as high relative to other crops as it has been this year (@ 35,000 S£ for 100 pounds of superior grade gum), space previously managed by women and dedicated to food growing may in the future be shifted to cash crop production. At that point, women have to compete with men for control of the production, as has happened elsewhere in Africa.12
12 Roof Crop Processing, UNIFEM, Food Cycle Technology Source Book no. 5, 1989, p. 58.
Linking tree seedling production to income generation was an idea that grew organically out of SOS Sahel's village nursery program. The project began by guaranteeing a small price for trees which women grew and used their seedlings to supplement the supply of the central nursery. Once the value of shelterbelts had been demonstrated and women's reputation as growers of viable seedlings had been established, the project encouraged the women to sell their trees to satisfy the private demand that had been stimulated. Individual farmers pay up to 50 S£ a tree seedling for fuelwood species and windbreaks. Women have requested fruit tree species from the project, which would sell for a higher price.
Improved stoves conserving fuelwood have formed the other mainstay of extension programs targeting women. Starting in 1984, CARE launched its first stove initiative in El Obeid. Since then, several different projects along with the Energy Research Institute have developed a National Cookstove Network chaired (as of 1992) by the National Energy Administration. They have introduced at least four different models of stoves. The most popular are the ladeyah (3 stone or foyer amélioré à trois pierres) and kisra woodstoves, which are made of a mud-straw mixture used widely for rural construction throughout Africa; and metal stoves with fired clay liners (the 'Azza' and 'El Sarour' stoves) for burning charcoal.
Despite over ten years of work building capacity and awareness in order to popularize improved stoves, no model has yet been widely accepted. During this period, training demonstrations of metal and mudstove construction have been held, a media campaign has been run on television, domestic consumption and marketing studies conducted, and hundreds - if not thousands - of metal stoves have been distributed by projects at subsidized prices. Stove performance has been tested, models refined, and retested.
Yet, in Khartoum-Omdurman-Khartoum North, a metropolitan area of over 2.5 million people, there is only one single location where one can purchase an improved metal stove that is known to FNC energy specialists and the female staff in FNC headquarters. Moreover, requests during the consultation to visit stoves throughout the entire Western and Northern regions turned up only two stoves in actual use and a handful of other well-made but unused mudstoves whereas projects claim to have constructed hundreds of them.13 Ironically, the women who owned these unused stoves could readily verbalize their advantages, down to the improved, smoke-less taste of food cooked in them.
13 Lack of use was apparent from the dust and cobwebs that had accumulated in them or the odds and ends that were stacked up on them.
To increase impact, it is crucial to understand why the success of the stove programs has been so limited up until now. Is it because of the relative infancy of the alternative technology? According to this interpretation, when compared with the length of time that women have been cooking over three rocks, improved stoves are still so new that women don't fully understand them, and what they don't understand, they don't use.
Or is the limited impact a function of the treatment of woodstoves a one-time item on a project's agenda? Of the projects visited, all resources seem to have been expended on the initial introduction. No one was doing even rudimentary monitoring of the stoves which had been constructed or purchased. Thus, according to this interpretation, it's the absence of supplemental reinforcement, necessary at this early stage to solidify attitudinal change and catch any minor problems that may be keeping a stove from peak performance, which is the weak link in the introduction-extension-adoption sequence.
A third explanation focuses on the raw materials and labor required for mudstoves. Where clay and water have to be brought into the user's compound from a site outside the village, this involves extra work and logistics for women who already have plenty of responsibilities. Construction and maintenance represent additional time-consuming tasks.
All three of these interpretations point to a similar strategy for the future: 'Continue as begun. Be patient. Beef up monitoring to reinforce the habit of new users and to resolve problems as they occur. Utilize evaluations to tally up the balance sheet of the stoves' advantages and limitations.' Such an approach will itself be labor-intensive and time-consuming. Before launching into it, there is an alternative interpretation that should be considered which explains why women who have stoves and who understand perfectly their advantages don't use them: Mudstoves are not something women think they need or want.
In all of the stove extension programs reviewed, the definition of what women need has remained external to the activity. The banco model being popularized was chosen by project staff because of its low cost nature. Most often, the sensibilization about the stove's advantages has come in the form of a lecture about deforestation, followed immediately by a demonstration.14
14 SOS Sahel extension staff put on puppet shows to dramatize the causes of deforestation.
Rural women have been involved only in the implementation phase, not in need assessment and not in stove design. Women's participation in the initial phases of problem-identification and problem-solving has been 'short-circuited' as extension programs have plunged into building mudstoves. Nowhere in the process has there been room for open acknowledgment of the drawbacks of the model (difficulty of construction, not easy to move, protection required, etc. etc.), and full discussion of these inconveniences in relation to the stove's advantages and in comparison with the alternatives. The sketchy nature of efforts to monitor and do joint community evaluation of the stove program means that the projects reviewed do not have a way to gather input on why women don't like the stove. The activity as actually carried out has yet to move beyond the attempt to impose a new technology which women have not appropriated as their own.
Nor have metal stoves caught on, in spite ever-rising prices for charcoal.15 The metal-ceramic model brought in from Kenya by CARE, called the El Sarour, is currently on sale in Khartoum and El Obeid. A more efficient and slightly less expensive metal-ceramic model adapted from the 'Thai bucket' stove, known as Azza stove, is disseminated through the desertification projects in Nyala, El Fasher and El Obeid.
15 A large sack (25 kgs) of charcoal priced at 1300 £S was least expensive in Nyala. Up north in Shendi, prices were quoted as high as 4000 £S per sac.
Project evaluations of the overall impact of metal stove dissemination in Sudan have been mixed.16 While CARE has acknowledged that the results have been limited thus far, it pointed out that these programs have made a solid beginning in raising awareness and building up productive capacity of the most efficient fabrication-distribution method, namely, through artisans in the informal sector.
16 See, for example, the project document for GCP/SUD/047/NET, p. 70, and Gaafar El Faki Ali, "Final Evaluation of CARE International's Fuel-efficient Stove Project", April 1994.
The situation with the Azza stove is somewhat similar. In this case, the projects themselves have organized, subsidized and controlled the production-distribution process with the idea that it could be "turned over" to the private sector once capacity and demand had been established. The FDS project has led the way in these efforts. However, since this consultation did not review FDS actions directly, the following analysis draws only on FDS project documentation and discussion with staff from the biomass energy unit.
Both CARE and FDS have realized that their charcoal stove models are expensive, given the modest standard of living of the majority of Sudanese households. If CARE's interpretation of the impact of current stove programs is accepted, then the appropriate strategy at this point would be to diversify in order to develop less expensive models, and to support the transition to artisanal producers-distributors.17 CARE has also recommended continued marketing through television and radio advertisements to build greater demand.
17 The earlier review of FDS's women's program suggested this. See van der Borg (1993), p. 19.
However, there are obstacles in the way of such a strategy which the above interpretation does not account for. The private sector is driven by profit, yet neither Azza nor El Sarour are profitable to produce.18 This fact has been masked by the subsidies dedicated to launch the product. On the other side of the exchange is the consumer who is motivated by preference. Yet, neither stove is cheap nor convenient to use. As a result, there's a debilitating circle:
high production costs and low efficiency = > high priced product = > low demand
since low demand doesn't provide any stimulus for innovations which could increase productive efficiencies and ultimately lower prices. Advertising and privatization are not going to change this basic situation.
18 See break-even analysis of El Sarour production in Annex 5. To track down cost figures for artisanal production of the Azza stove would have taken more time than what was available since no project reviewed had written reports monitoring these costs. However, the extremely low price which the Nyala project put on the Azza stoves that it distributed could not have covered even the variable costs of production, even if these were only half the expenses of a metalworker in Khartoum.
In 1992 CARE asked the FAO to help modify the El Sarour model, which had showed "no improvement" over the traditional square metal stove on both heat transfer and fuel consumption in controlled testing.19 The FAO suggested simple design alterations to increase efficiency. However, the design improvement has yet to filter down to the level of artisanal production, and the metalworkers in Khartoum have never changed their technique. The model that is currently on sale in town is one which is hardly better than the traditional stove. The low sales of one per day registered by the workshop in March 1994 are not surprising.
19 A.R. Paddon and S. Ali, "Cookstoves in Sudan", Field Document no. 43, FDES Project, July 1992, p. 27.
The principle consideration in the initial choice of both of these models was operational performance in the technical sense of heat transfer and fuel consumption. Price and women's cooking needs took a seat far back in the determination. Research into the structure of the Sudanese metalworking industry and examination of the segmentation of the domestic stove market were not conducted. Instead, a brand-new product was imported into the country. Had project designers looked closely at the market forces in Sudan and compared them to those in Kenya and Thailand, they would have remarked the following significant differences.
Kenya and especially Thailand have much higher population densities, more cars and communications infrastructure, more light industry, and greater imports of machinery and manufactured goods than does Sudan.20 These are factors which determine the availability of scrap metal, and therefore, the cost and time necessary to obtain the raw materials for a metal stove. They also shape the speed at which ideas and consumer goods travel around the country.
20 World Development Report 1994, published for the World Bank, Oxford U. Press, (1994).
The combination of metalworking and ceramics demands the coordination of two different specialized skills. Weak linkages between potters and metalworkers have hampered improved stove production in Sudan. Whereas in Kenya, the informal sector was already highly efficient at jiko [metal stove] production at the point when a clay liner was introduced into the fabrication process as a product line extension.21 Tackling this in stages allowed the Kenyan jiko industry to master the first step before moving on to what was more complex.
21 Max Kinyanjui, "The 'jiko' industry in Kenya," in Woodstove Dissemination, Proceedings of the Conference held at Wolfheze, the Netherlands, ed. Robin Clarke, 1985, IT Publications, London, pp. 150-57.
The complexity of the fabrication process as well as the availability of raw materials, including high quality clay, contribute to the costs of production and help jack up the stove's final price. However, price was not adequately considered in the approach to dissemination that was adopted by either CARE or the FAO projects The history of CARE's initiative is a tale of balancing control over production, on one hand, in order to produce high quality liners, and control over prices, on the other, to help introduce the stove to the market. Equally, subsidizing the costs of production and controlling the price of the Azza stove have made it difficult to transfer the manufacture and distribution to private entrepreneurs. Without the profit margins and clientele that artisanal producers were once guaranteed by project budgets, they have switched back to other more profitable items.22
22 CARE's earlier attempts to set up larger-scale production facilities with mechanized processes have been completely abandoned. See Ali (1994) pp. 8-9.
Nor have the dissemination strategies paid sufficient attention to the segmentation of the market by consumer price sensitivity, by individual style of food preparation, and by the distinction between stove buyers and stove users. No mention was ever made of consumer price sensitivity in the stove campaign before 1992. Since then, several household studies have attempted to distinguish fuel preferences and consumption levels between income brackets. However, instead of using this information to target stove promotion to those who can afford them, Azza and El Sarour have been marketed uniformly across all income segments.
These stove models have been imported from countries with different diets and different food preparation patterns. Their introduction into Sudan was not made on the basis of knowledge of the local situation, outside of the mounting evidence of massive deforestation. The cooking habits of Sudanese women have yet to be analyzed in detail. Nonetheless, the hearth is still the center of the home in Sudan, and nourishing one's family and visitors are central to Sudanese women's social role. In its focus on technique (construction) and the macro-environment (deforestation), dissemination of improved stove technology has not paid sufficient attention to the socio-psychological aspects of stove use.
Nor has it observed carefully the differences between users of charcoal and users of wood. A higher percentage of wood users collect their own wood than the percentage of charcoal users who fabricate their own charcoal. Women who have to collect wood for cooking may be more apt to conserve it, whereas those who pay for wood or charcoal (men with income) may not be the same people as those who consume it in cooking (women and domestic help).
Finally, both the Azza and El Sarour models share certain of the same limitations which set them far apart from the rest of the metal stoves commercially available. These stoves can only accept one pot of a certain size. The clay liner requires special attention. The stove is not easily available in the local suq. Thus, Azza and El Sarour have competed directly with each other, and in consequence, there is little diversity of features and price in the improved models introduced in Sudan.
Stove extension programs still seem to be feeling their way with the concept of social marketing, and application of marketing techniques to public interest objectives. Sudanese markets constitute a distinctive blend of private initiative, state planning, and regulation. When done properly, marketing research can offer important insights for strategic planning into consumer behavior and competitive forces in the Sudanese context.
Having examined the orientation and content of forestry extension programs, the next step is to look at the question of how they are structured. Structure is directly linked to sustainability. The greater the voluntary involvement of the community, the better the chances for continuation of activities at the end of the formal project cycle. A spectrum of participation would range from the low end of:
ß recipient of project benefits
(inputs, services, training)
à to a more active role as clients or employees,
who are in what is basically an exchange
relationship with the project
à to a decision-making role,
which involves a still greater
degree of responsibility
à to still more control and involvement
that accompany an ownership role.
Using this grid to analyze women's participation offers a framework for future efforts to enhance their involvement. Women have been involved with forestry extension programs:
a) As beneficiaries:
Over 500 Azza improved stoves were distributed to women at what was considered "cost price" of S£ 160 (1992-93) in El Fasher.23
23 The price of stoves distributed in Nyala a year later by the same project were double the price (£S 300).
Women have received plastic sacs and seeds or ready-grown seedlings, and training in nursery technique or stove construction from almost all of the projects reviewed.
As the community members who most often fetch water, women have benefitted from hand and mechanized pumps donated to their villages for drinking water and irrigation in villages along the Nile River.
b) As clients:
The only woman contacted during the consultation who does business with a project was a potter who makes clay liners for the Azza stoves. The Gumbelt project in Nyala furnishes her with a free supply of superior quality clay, special tools of simple, local fabrication and a workbench. This equipment costs S£ 25,000 total. The potter is guaranteed an income based on her piecework (S£ 50 each liner). No other contractual agreements for products or services between independent women and the projects were encountered.
c) As employees:
Women occupy two types of positions in the projects reviewed. Most often, they work in positions that have been expressly reserved for female agents, namely, in extension work with women and in jobs which customarily have been done by women in semi-urban environments, for example, secretarial work.24 The other type of female project employee found were women who earned S£ 150/day (equivalent to about $10/month) as temporary laborers or for doing nursery work.25 This extremely low wage is not sufficient to attract men or women with better skills and more opportunity, and the Forest Director in Darfur has been negotiating for an increase up to 500 S£/day.
24 See first consultancy report, Annex C, for gender-disaggregated statistics on project and FNC employment in Darfur and Kordofan states.
25 Sudan's GNP per capita in 1992 was $246, according to World Bank Development Report.
There was only one woman in a supervisory position outside of extension work in all the projects visited. The concrete advantages in terms of 'knowledge of the client' which are generated by having women in positions where they can contribute to program design and set-up have not been exploited.
d) As decision-makers:
While community forestry has made appreciable progress since the approach was introduced in Sudan, women's participation in decision-making processes is less noticeable. Women appeared to have few opportunities to participate in decisions about the project activities that they were engaged in. In seven of the projects visited, the entire technical package had been decided upon before contact was initiated with the village. For example, the tree species that women planted and how they planted them, the model of improved stove introduced, the idea of a woodlot for fuel supply, all of these "solutions" to women's problems had been arrived at prior to their participation.
There were instances, however, of greater involvement of women as decision-makers that are illustrative of the potential which is still to be fully tapped. In Shendi, when women refused to leave their home compounds to work in the village nursery, SOS Sahel tailored its initial strategy to the realities of women's lives. Women responded favorably to the idea of individual nurseries because they fit easily into their daily routine. When the ADS project in Al Abaka (Lower Atbara) used participatory rural appraisal techniques, it discovered that women members of the village development committee didn't attend meetings because they were not informed (by the men) when the meetings would take place. The Hawa Society, an NGO for women based in Kordofan, has attracted a membership of over 700 women by its educational and training activities.
e) As owners of resources:
This degree of participation has yet to be obtained in a public forestry program. While women may do wage labor outside the home, possess animals (usually poultry and small ruminants), receive credit, and/or sell tree seedlings and forestry-related items such as baskets and mats that they have produced, much larger issues of land tenure, usufructuary rights to trees planted on communal or national reserves, literacy, family responsibilities, and organization that have yet to be addressed still limit most women's participation to a small scale.