In light of the conclusions drawn above, it is recommended that:
Tie the issue of sustainability into project design. Forestry extension should be oriented around income generation from forestry activity. Making these connections is vital for the sound management of Sudan's natural resource base.
Example: Through extension efforts and employment by the FNC in nursery work, many women already know how to grow trees. They may welcome the opportunity to become nursery owners and take on more responsibility, given the possibilities for increased remuneration through the sale of seedlings, including hashab and fruit tree production.
Conduct a detailed marketing study to survey existing potential and constraints for future income generation by women, in light of Sudan's economic system and the FNC's environmental mission.
Example: There is already a fair amount of competition to sell handicrafts made from saaf, and little variation in the objects produced, leading to saturation of existing demand. The sustainability of this work depends on product development (new and better quality) and improved management of doum palm (Hyphaene thebaica). The technical feasibility and cultural traditions surrounding propagation (direct sowing) by women should be examined.
Rethink the approach and strategy for dissemination via private producers of improved charcoal stoves.
There is internal inconsistency to the use of this strategy if costs are not considered from the very beginning. This means starting with an assessment of demand, break-even analysis of production costs factored against production levels, and determination of contribution margins. If metal-ceramic stoves cannot be sold profitably in Sudan at this point in time, a simpler model should be marketed as a 'halfway step' to the overall reduction in fuel consumption that is desired.
Keep in mind that fuel efficiency is not necessarily the predominant consideration in every cook's purchasing behavior. Convenience - or lack thereof - can be as important. So can psychological factors such as a desire not to stir up envy or a fear of public censure of private initiative.
Recognize that the market is segmented and that it is possible to additionally position any improved product on hygiene, safety features, and the taste of food preparation, as well as savings.
Marketing metal stoves to an upscale segment which is price-sensitive can highlight the speed at which an improved stove will pay for itself, which a simple calculation can reveal.
Given the tested efficiencies of a simple metal collar around the base of any pot on the most traditional stove, this represents an easy and low cost alternative that requires less of a change of habit and should be widely publicized.26
26 Paddon (1992) Table 4: Constant Boiling Water Tests, p. 44-45.
Finally, examine the opportunities to influence behavior through public policy support for the use of improved technology.
Rethink as well the approach to dissemination of improved woodstoves. Start from the point of view of the end-user: do women perceive a fuelwood problem?27 If women do, involve them in design of a new stove/redesign of the mudstove. Explain fuel combustion to women and encourage women to experiment.
27 There is an excellent flow chart (reproduced in Appendix 6) from the Community Forestry Field Manual "Guidelines for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating Cookstove Programmes" that lays out clearly the steps in this process.
Within a community, who does the FNC want to reach? Explicit attention to access should be paid when formulating extension strategy. Self-selection by participants based on demonstrated interest has worked well in Northern Sudan.
How shall successful extension be defined in a community forestry project? While numerical indicators can help quantify progress in certain areas, the social aspects of community forestry are not measured as well by numbers.
Where do responsibilities lie in a joint effort? Clear 'contracts' to structure extension work with groups also offer a basis for creating accountability.
Women's forestry activities would benefit from training in:
Technical skills: composting, grafting (for fruit-tree production), agro-processing
Organizational skills: when women lack these skills, at first glance it may appear as if they are not motivated or display little initiative. Group work combined with training in management provide them with a chance to exchange information, structure a work program, run a meeting, and develop at their own pace.
Microenterprise development: marketing including product development, market segmentation, pricing and packaging; credit management
Building on WADA's work in the MOA, organize a WID focal point in the FNC to strengthen awareness of gender concerns among all staff and personnel as a mechanism to improve integration of these concerns into forestry development and management.
Faculty from Shambat, Afhad, and Kordofan Universities should take the lead in organizing a professional association for women in forestry that could identify applied and theoretical research projects addressing women's needs, increase the visibility of women in a traditionally all-male field, and mentor younger women coming up in the field of forestry.
Examine the issue of the necessary level of education required for d different types of fieldwork, including extension. At present, women have no opportunity to gain the degree of forestry technician from Soba Institute since the institution lacks appropriate housing facilities for young women.
Examine the nutritional status of the typical family diet in wood-scarce areas. Has it declined? Are women cooking and especially young children eating fewer hot meals because of difficulties (or the expense) of obtaining fuel?