Natural Protectors: Kenyan Women Step Up to Save a Forest – Yale E360

“I’m really happy to be out of the forest — I’m also happy that women are taking part in decision-making,” said Lonolngenje, a 30-year-old mother of four, who lives just outside the forest and runs a small food kiosk with two other Samburu women. She still collects firewood in the forest twice a week, but she only uses wood from fallen trees. “I no longer cut trees down.” Lonolngenje’s newfound stewardship responsibilities are part of a broad shift of changing gender roles in northern Kenya and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. As traditional livelihoods for men, such as livestock herding, have eroded, women have been forced to earn money for the first time. Facing worsening droughts, Samburu men leave for months searching for pasture or for new jobs, oftentimes in cities. That leaves women not only to manage the household but also to earn enough money to live in their partner’s absence.  In some cases, the women’s opportunities are being aided by the growing willingness of governments to let local populations manage their natural resources — a strategy borne out by studies showing they are better custodians. This has been particularly true in

Source: Natural Protectors: Kenyan Women Step Up to Save a Forest – Yale E360