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Intersecting and dynamic gender rights to néré, a food tree species in Burkina Faso

  • Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Rome, Italy


This study examines women's bundles of rights to exploit the pods of a valuable food-tree species in Burkina Faso, Parkia biglobosa, locally known as néré. In West Africa, néré pods have traditionally been collected and processed by women and sold as soumbala, a highly-valued condiment. Given its value to local livelihoods, néré is a prized tree that is subject to a particular tenure regime. This study investigates the social factors that define women's harvesting rights to néré pods in the centre-west region of Burkina Faso through the lens of intersectionality. Whereas customary land tenure in Burkina Faso grants men primary ownership and use rights to land, different groups of women are entitled to harvest food-tree products such as néré pods, in defined spaces. This study shows how women, who are usually presented as a homogeneous group in terms of rights, are socially differentiated on the basis of several factors, such as residence status, ethnicity and seniority within their lineage. This differentiation shapes the nested bundles of rights held by different groups of women on different land types. Amid broad-ranging demographic, market, and environmental changes, rights to exploit néré pods are shifting and contested, and insecurity of rights challenges the sustainability and equitability of néré harvesting.
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Journal of Rural Studies
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Intersecting and dynamic gender rights to néré, a food tree species in
Burkina Faso
Catherine Pehou
, Houria Djoudi
, Barbara Vinceti
, Marlène Elias
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), 06 B.P. 9478 Ouagadougou 06, Burkina Faso
Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Jl Cifor, Situ Gede, Sindangbarang, Bogor Barat, 16680, Indonesia
Bioversity International, Via dei Tre Denari, 472/a 00054 Maccarese (Fiumicino), Italy
Food trees
Tree tenure
Burkina Faso
Parkia biglobosa (néré)
This study examines women's bundles of rights to exploit the pods of a valuable food-tree species in Burkina
Faso, Parkia biglobosa, locally known as néré. In West Africa, néré pods have traditionally been collected and
processed by women and sold as soumbala, a highly-valued condiment. Given its value to local livelihoods, néré
is a prized tree that is subject to a particular tenure regime. This study investigates the social factors that dene
women's harvesting rights to néré pods in the centre-west region of Burkina Faso through the lens of inter-
sectionality. Whereas customary land tenure in Burkina Faso grants men primary ownership and use rights to
land, dierent groups of women are entitled to harvest food-tree products such as néré pods, in dened spaces.
This study shows how women, who are usually presented as a homogeneous group in terms of rights, are socially
dierentiated on the basis of several factors, such as residence status, ethnicity and seniority within their lineage.
This dierentiation shapes the nested bundles of rights held by dierent groups of women on dierent land
types. Amid broad-ranging demographic, market, and environmental changes, rights to exploit néré pods are
shifting and contested, and insecurity of rights challenges the sustainability and equitability of néré harvesting.
1. Introduction
A common feature of rural African landscapes is a spatial distribu-
tion of land uses and plant species that reects gender relations.
Landscapes like the agroforestry parklands in West Africa reect not
only natural tree regeneration patterns, but also the management
practices of both female and male farmers (Elias, 2015). Furthermore,
some areas are characterized by agricultural production systems
strongly associated with either women or men (Howard and Nabanoga,
2007;Sachs, 2018) and gender norms shape which crops or phases of
the cropping cycle are under men's or women's responsibility. In fact, in
several African cultures, certain crops are linguistically classied as
feminineor masculine(Alesina et al., 2013;Sillitoe, 2003).
Access to, and use of, natural resources typically reveal gender
dierences (Bandiaky and Tiani, 2010;Brown and Lapuyade, 2001a;
Gurung and Quesada, 2009;Mwangi et al., 2011). In West Africa, under
customary tenure arrangements, women have the right to cultivate
land, but this land remains under the control of male elders (McAuslan,
2003;Stevenson, 2005). Rights to land, and the resources it bears, ty-
pically depend on a woman's marital status. According to Kevane and
Gray (1999), such rights often cease in instances of divorce, widowhood
or failure to produce a male heir. Women's rights to land are all the
more challenged when resources become scarce, or in a context of ex-
panding markets for useable land (Rao, 2007;Yoda, 2009).
Rights to trees on those lands may follow altogether dierent pat-
terns. Some scholars argue that women generally do not plant trees or
tree crops because this is understood to confer long-term and secure
rights to land, which are not granted to women. In Burkina Faso, where
this study has been undertaken, local customs deny women across
ethnic groups direct access to land, but women often have considerable
indirectland rights, in particular through marriage (Amadiume, 2015;
Kevane and Gray, 1999;Paré, 2010;Weidelener, 1973).
Although several studies address gender inequalities in customary
tenure regimes, further analytical renements are needed to improve
our understanding of such systems. For one, the tenure issue is often
framed in binary terms: as a contestation between men and women, or a
dichotomy between formal and customary rights (Krishnaraj and Kay,
2002). Moreover, few authors have delved into the social dynamics
underpinning tree tenure, although these represent an inextricable part
of the broader issue of land tenure; and when analyzing rights to trees,
few studies consider dierences among women and their negotiation
around resource access.
Received 29 May 2019; Received in revised form 18 February 2020; Accepted 29 February 2020
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: (C. Pehou).
Journal of Rural Studies xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
0743-0167/ © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license
Please cite this article as: Catherine Pehou, et al., Journal of Rural Studies,
The case study we present explores these aspects with a particular
focus on the African locust bean tree (Parkia biglobosa), called néré in
Burkina Faso. For rural and urban populations in the Sudanian and
Sahelian regions of Burkina Faso and across West Africa, néré plays a
signicant role in the diet. The most valuable part of the tree is its pod,
whose pulp and seeds are used to prepare a nutritious condiment
(soumbala) used as a avoring agent in grain-based recipes. Women are
the main harvesters of néré pods, from which they derive income
(through the sale of soumbala) and a nutritious ingredient to feed their
families (Andersen et al., 2013;Kronborg et al., 2013;Sabiiti and
Cobbina, 1992).
Néré also plays an important role in women's income-generation
activities. According to FAO (2012), the market for néré products is
booming and very lucrative. This is a function of increased demand for,
and lower production of néré. In Burkina Faso, the sale of néré products
annually generates US$270 for a rural household, representing the
price of seeds from 20 trees (Bonkoungou, 2002), while the soumbala
business generates an average of US$8.3 million for the national
economy (Nikiema et al., 2005). Rural women derive one third of their
income from the sale of néré products (Lamien and Vognan, 2001).
Soumbala retains a strong market share due to its key role in traditional
dishes, although competing products are consumed as substitutes. In
the late 1990s, Boa (1999) reported a very high consumption of fer-
mented néré seeds in Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso, with 50100% of
the population consuming soumbala on a daily basis. More recent in-
vestigations indicate that edible néré products are consumed by ap-
proximately 70% of rural households during the lean season in Burkina
Faso (Vinceti et al., 2018) and that néré is sold less than other NTFPs
during periods of food shortage, when it is kept for home consumption
(Koet al., 2017).
Concurrently, however, the occurrence of néré, like other food tree
species, is declining in some parts of the country, and the species' po-
pulations are ageing. Natural regeneration of néré is very low in West
African parklands, where crops and trees grow together on cultivated
elds. For instance, in Northern Ghana, Poudyal (2011) noted that only
5% of households have more than two young néré trees per hectare in
their elds. Several studies attribute such a lack of regeneration of food
trees to disincentives to plant trees created by ambiguities in tenure
regimes (McDermott and Schreckenberg, 2009;Otsuka and Place,
2014). Others, however, call for a more dierentiated analysis of
farmersdecisions and conservation practices, and more generally of
the complex linkages between tree density, agricultural intensication,
and evolving local institutions (Brottem, 2011;Binam et al., 2017;Gray
and Kevane, 2001;Moreda, 2018). The selective protection or planting
of particular tree species in farmed parklands is driven not only by
economic concerns but also by context-specic institutional and socio-
political factors (Poudyal, 2011).
There is a dearth of data on how the néré market aects collection
patterns in Burkina Faso, yet ndings for similar locally valued NTFPs,
such as shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) butter and nuts (Elias and Carney,
2007), as well as observational data (authors' data, unpublished), sug-
gest that rising market demand increases competition among women
collectors. This competition is accentuated by the low current avail-
ability of néré, which causes collectors increasing diculties in ob-
taining seeds for consumption or sale throughout the year (Leβmeister
et al., 2015;Tomomatsu, 2014). As a result, néré pods are often har-
vested before they are fully mature (Tomomatsu, 2014), despite the
known negative consequences this practice carries for the quality of
fermented seeds (Mette Kronborg et al., 2014). In addition, due to the
scarcity of néré seeds, soumbala is being substituted by other, less ap-
preciated, condiments in local diets (Leβmeister et al., 2015;
Tomomatsu, 2014). Moreover, changing market demand and the
growing pressure on néré resources are changing consumption patterns.
A survey conducted in Burkina Faso shows that, as noted above, women
are substituting néré seeds primarily with smoked sh, and Maggi
cubes(28% and 21% of respondents, respectively; Heubach et al.,
2016). In other studies in the region, farmers were growing soybeans, as
a substitute for the increasingly rare néré seeds (Cooper and West,
Focusing on this high-value tree species, this study demonstrates
how social factors interact to shape women's dierentiated rights to tree
resources. We begin by reviewing gendered access to land and trees in
Burkina Faso, before presenting the methodology used in this study. We
highlight the spatial dynamics of women's access rights to néré, and
illustrate how women's access to land and néré trees is inuenced by
residence status, ethnicity, seniority and marital status within the
lineage. We show that women with limited rights to néré do not pas-
sively accept this status, but pursue several strategies to overcome this
exclusion. Finally, we argue that spatially overlapping land rights,
linked to emerging markets for land and the erosion of traditional te-
nure regimes, expose certain groups of women to insecure rights to
harvest néré, and have impacts on the sustainability and management
of néré trees in the region. In this way, we expand upon the scarce
literature examining the link between land and tree security and sus-
tainable management of agroforestry parklands in West Africa (Etongo
et al., 2018a).
2. Conceptualizing gendered access to land and trees in Burkina
Signicant international eorts to address women's rights in de-
velopment policies are reected in treaties addressing human and wo-
men's rights (e.g. the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women) and in a number of environmental and
sustainable development instruments (e.g. the United Nations
Convention to Combat Desertication, the United Nations Convention
on Biological Diversity). Since 2005, Burkina Faso, which is a signatory
to these treaties and conventions, has been engaged in progressively
dening more secure land tenure for its rural populations generally,
and for rural women specically. The Law on Agrarian and Land
Reorganization (RAF) of 1996 indicated that the land belongs to the
State, which regulates its access. The subsequent National Rural Land
Tenure Security Policy (PNSFMR), adopted in 2007, among other things
stipulated equal right of men and women to access land. In 2009, a
Rural Land Law (Loi N°034-2009/AN Portant Régime Foncier Rural) to
ensure equitable access to land for all actors in the rural world in-
cluding families, individuals and agribusiness men has been adopted.
This law further promotes more secure land tenure for poor small-
holders and favors women's access to land. In particular, Articles 75 and
76 allow for the transfer of state-owned and community land to vul-
nerable groups, such as women and young people. In addition, it gives
women rights to plots in irrigation schemes.
Despite this progress in land tenure policies, women's land rights
remain strongly constrained. The Rural Land Law 034-2009 is little
known by local actors, and its implementation does not always meet the
needs of specic groups, such as migrants, pastoralists and women.
Moreover, the procedures for obtaining Rural Land Ownership
Certicates (Attestation de Possession Foncière Rurale (APFR) are un-
aordable to vulnerable groups (Karambiri, 2018;Koala, 2017;Nana,
2018). There have been very few attempts to put the Rural Land Law
034-2009 into practice, and these remain in an experimental phase
within development programs (Koala, 2017;Koudougou et al., 2017)
that depend mainly on increasingly scarce donor funding (Delville and
Thieba, 2015). Pilot experiences of issuing Rural Land Ownership
Certicates (APFR) were carried out in 47 communes by the Millen-
nium Challenge Account (MCA), however, out of 202 APFRs, only 11
were granted to women (WorldBank, 2014). In practice, customary
tenure systems are therefore still the main institutions regulating wo-
men's rights to land and trees; but they pose critical constraints on
women's access to land and livelihoods (Razavi, 2007). In patrilineal
customary regimes, which dominate in Burkina Faso and elsewhere in
Africa, women's land rights are mediated by the male head of the
C. Pehou, et al. Journal of Rural Studies xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
household (i.e. husband, father if unmarried, or uncle) or by male el-
ders in their lineage (Chikoko, 2002;Kiptot and Franzel, 2011). As
such, rural Burkinabè women generally do not own land and cannot
inherit land belonging to their native family or husband, and they
continue to exploit much smaller land plots than their male counter-
parts (1 ha versus 3 ha on average, respectively) (Ouédraogo et al.,
Access to land and its transmission depend on the region and on
diverse and shifting cultural norms. For example, among Burkinabè
ethnic groups where decisions are made by lineage elders (such as the
Bwa and Gourounsi), ancestral land used to be transmitted according to
an adelphic mode of succession (i.e. from one elder to another in the
lineage). This tendency has now changed, with transmission occurring
from father to son. However, land inheritance rights for women have
not changed substantially over time, and most women do not inherit
In rural West Africa, it is common to nd a separate tenure regime
for land and trees. According to Kiptot and Franzel (2011), tree tenure
concerns the right to own and use trees. Modern formal, legislative
frameworks do not include explicit reference to tree tenure, which is
usually assumed to be comprised in statutory land rights (Ouoba,
2010). Likewise, customary rights to trees are little studied given the
frequent assumption that tree tenure coincides with land tenure
(Howard and Nabanoga, 2007;Oguamanam, 2003;Sikor, 2006).
Like land tenure, access to and control over trees are extremely
complex. Gender inuences rights to plant, harvest and fell a tree (Gray
and Kevane, 1999). Tree tenure can vary across tree species, especially
when these have a high value, as in the case of néré. For a given tree
species, tenure rights may vary across time, space and among ethnic
groups. Native species, which often grow spontaneously, are treated
dierently than planted trees. Various parts of a tree and the benets
from their harvest, sale or utilization may entail dierent ownership
and use rights between men and women and between dierent other
social groups (Butterworth et al., 2005;Fischer andVasseur, 2002).
Moreover, several individuals may hold use rights to the same tree,
producing a stratication of rights(Mansourian and Vallauri, 2005;
Osborn, 1989). Access to a tree and its products usually depends on the
relationship between the user and the owner of the resource, and it is
negotiated among them (Bruce, 1990;Plummer and Fitzgibbon, 2004).
These relationships are dynamic and subject to change, for example as a
result of the adoption of survivalstrategies in response to drastic
social-political changes. They are also evolving in response to both
external and internal changes (Tomomatsu, 2014).
Coulibaly-Lingani et al. (2009) demonstrate that gender dierences
in access to forest tree resources may depend on the nature of the re-
source utilized, which inuences, for example, the physical strength
required to extract a given product (e.g., wood cutting for fuel wood
sale). Due to their limited access to land to grow cash crops, rural
women in West Africa are heavily dependent on non-timber forest
products (NTFPs) as an income source and as a form of social security
(Brown and Lapuyade, 2001b;Dayamba et al., 2016;Lemenih et al.,
2003;Rousseau et al., 2015;Schreckenberg et al., 2006;Shackleton
et al., 2008). Labor constraints further contribute to women's reliance
on harvesting NTFPs that are spontaneouslyoccurring rather than
cultivated, and which require less labor to acquire.
In Africa, the collection and use of NTFPs for food, fuel, and other
purposes are primarily a woman's responsibility (Neumann and Hirsch,
2000;Shackleton et al., 2011;Sunderland et al., 2014), although
African men also collect NTFPs (Sunderland et al., 2004). The high
demand for NTFPs in general, and for néré and shea tree products in
particular, increases pressures on the species' populations (Thiombiano
et al., 2013;Wezel and Lykke, 2006). This has an inuence on women's
harvesting behavior, and can lead to men's interest in entering lucrative
sectors previously dominated by women (Chaln, 2004;Cunningham,
2014). Nevertheless, women remain the ones predominantly involved
in harvesting, processing, and selling the products of the néré tree, as
well as the shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), whose nuts they transform
into butter for consumption or sale. They represent more than 70% of
the sellers in the urban markets and 90% in the rural markets (Nikiema
et al., 2005). In the West African savanna, the two sisterspecies are
found in forest, bush, elds, and fallows, providing food directly in the
form of fruit, pulp, seeds and other edible parts (Teklehaimanot, 2004).
Negotiations based on unequal power relations within a household
shape access to and distribution of resources at the household level
(Kevane and Gray, 1999) as well as the time women and men dedicate
to collecting tree resources relative to conducting other farm duties
(Leach et al., 1999). Those gendered arrangements are constantly re-
negotiated in rural areas that experience rapid political-economic
transformations (Ravera et al., 2016).
Within gender groups, too, social dierentiation on the basis of
ethnicity, generation, status of residence and other factors shape wo-
men's access rights and capacity to use a resource and take management
decisions (Ang, 2003;Brockhaus et al., 2013;Djoudi and Brockhaus,
2011). Hence, as we demonstrate below, conceptualizing women as a
single and homogeneous group leads to neglecting the specic con-
straints that dierent groups of women face in accessing and using tree
3. Study sites and methodological approach
3.1. Study sites
This study was carried out in three villages in the centre-west region
of Burkina Faso: Kassolo and Pien (Ziro province) and Nebou (Sissili
province) (Fig. 1). The villages are characterized by a high level of in-
migration and dier with regard to remoteness of their location and
proportional representation of dierent ethnic groups among their in-
habitants. The main ethnic groups in the study sites are Nouni, Mossé
and Fulani. The Nouni (also called Gourounsi) are considered the ori-
ginal inhabitants of the region (Lankoande, 2004). They are custodians
of the land and responsible for related customs and rituals, whose
practice rests with the village chief (Nouni: Pio) and the land chief or
earth priest (Nouni: Tiatiu).
The village chief represents the supreme
authority in charge of political issues, whereas the earth priest is related
to the rst occupant of the area, being his eldest living male descen-
dant, and maintains links to the spirits of the earth and the ancestors.
He is responsible for religious matters (rituals and sacrices) and pro-
vides authorization to new settlers to begin farming a piece of land. He
may delegate decisions about the land to the village chief.
Despite their status as autochthones, in 2010 the Nouni constituted
less than 50% of the population in the study area (Direction Générale de
l'aménagement du territoire du Burkina Faso, 2010). Mossé and Fulani
migrants moved into the area in successive waves over the past four
decades, such that by 2010, these groups represented 5090% of the
population, depending on the village, with a predominance of Mossé
inhabitants. Whereas the Nouni and Mossé are farmers who harvest
néré products, the Fulani are traditionally nomadic and semi-nomadic
herders who have become sedentarized and now cultivate the land and
harvest néré products in addition to their livestock raising activities.
We refer to residence status in this paper as the status a household
acquires at local level in relation to its migration history. On this basis,
we recognize dierent types of households: 1) Nouni descendants of the
founding lineage (autochthones), 2) rst-wave Mossé or Fulani mi-
grants, who arrived in the area before 1980
and their descendants, and
Nouni is the language spoken by the Nouni, whereas Mooré is the language
of the Mossé.
This wave of migration is related to two events: a) the Sahel drought
(1970s1980), with farmers leaving the dry northern areas to the less aected
South (Ouedraogo et al., 2010), b) state policy to promote the cotton sector
(Bonnassieux, 2002).
C. Pehou, et al. Journal of Rural Studies xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
3) recent Mossé or Fulani migrants, who mainly arrived in the area in
the late 1990s,
and their descendants. The village of Kassolo has a very
strong presence of Mossé and Fulani inhabitants, who are mainly des-
cendants from the rst wave of migrants. These migrants are well in-
tegrated among the Nouni; they are members of local councils and have
relatively secure land ownership. Some have also inter-married with co-
resident ethnic groups. The village of Pien has a large migrant popu-
lation, which arrived more recently in the area, with second-wave mi-
grants. The level of integration in the village is low, and secure rights to
land are reserved to the Nouni. Nebou is inhabited by several genera-
tions of migrants. The latest arrivals (late 1990s) have rented their land
from the Nouni and some have progressively managed to purchase it
under the above mentioned law (Law 034-2009).
The study sites are located in the Sudanian ecoregion and in the
transition zone to the Sahelian ecoregion, with annual rainfall between
800 mm and 1100 mm (from June to September) (Fig. 1). The vegeta-
tion is characterized by savannah with scattered trees growing in tra-
ditional agroforestry systems (parklands). Néré is found in cultivated
elds and fallow lands, together with other important agroforestry,
species such as Vitellaria paradoxa (shea tree), Lannea microcarpa (wild
grape) and Tamarindus indica (tamarind).
Néré occurs in a range of natural and semi-natural ecosystems, from
5°N to 15°N and 16°W to 32°E (Hopkins and White, 1984). Its density is
higher in the southern part of Burkina Faso and diminishes with in-
creasing latitude. Although the species can withstand drought due to its
deep root system and its capacity to limit transpiration, its optimal
growth conditions are in areas with annual rainfall of 6001200 mm. Its
presence is greater in anthropic environments, such as fallows and
farmlands, where cultivation is semi-permanent and scattered trees
form an open upper layer.
Néré trees begin producing pods annually starting at 57 years of
age, between the months of March and July. Based on the assessment of
village elders, néré individuals are considered ageing when they reach
5060 years. In the study sites, the speciesaverage population density
is around 5-10 individuals per hectare (Ouédraogo, 1995), with in-
dividuals between adult and ageing stages.
3.2. Conceptual approach
Intersectionality refers to how dierent axes of social dierentia-
tion, such as gender, seniority and residence status, intersect to create
overlapping and interdependent systems of disadvantage (or con-
versely, advantage) (Crenshaw, 1989). In our study, we adopt an in-
tersectional approach (Djoudi et al., 2016) and draw on Rocheleau and
Edmunds (1997) nested rights and gendered spaces framework to
analyze the ways gender, residence status, marital status, ethnicity and
social seniority interact to shape rights over néré trees in Burkina Faso.
We examine the bundle of rights to néré in a context where rights to
harvest products from trees are not systematically attributed and user
groups are not stable. Distinctions exist between rights to the land on
which trees grow, rights to a tree (néré) and to its harvestable products
Fig. 1. Location of the study sites. Source: adapted from Fischer et al. (2011) and Somé et al. (2013).
This second wave of migration was induced through: a) state policy pro-
moting new actorsin the agricultural sector by inciting agricultural migration
and agribusiness (Zongo, 2010), b) the political crisis in Côte dIvoire in the
2000s that amplied migration to Sissili and Ziro provinces among Burkinabè
returnees who had been working in Ivorian plantations (Ouedraogo et al.,
C. Pehou, et al. Journal of Rural Studies xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
Based on existing frameworks in the tenure literature (Meinzen-Dick
et al., 2017;Schlager and Ostrom, 1992), we refer to access rights to
land, which are regulated to varying degrees by customary and formal
rules, as the rights to enter a dened physical property. Harvesting rights
refer to the right to remove and gather products (e.g. néré pods) from
the property, whereas management rights refer to the rights to change
the structure and composition of the property (cutting, planting, etc.),
exclusion rights refer to the authority to keep others othe property,
and alienation rights refer to the authority to transfer property rights to
others through sale, bequest, or gift.
3.3. Data collection and analysis
Using qualitative and quantitative tools, we gathered primary data
regarding the use and the management of néré parklands, including
néré trees and their products (néré pods). In total, 180 women across
the three study villages participated in the research (60 per village). A
list of adult women from each village was stratied based on ethnicity
and residence status. Participants from each of the three resident ethnic
groups were randomly selected. The number of participants from each
ethnic group reected the relative representation of each group across
the villages investigated. Hence, 62 Nouni, 81 Mossé and 37 Fulani
womenrepresenting 34%, 45%, and 21% of the total sample, re-
spectivelyparticipated in the study. Each participant came from a
dierent household.
The rst author resided in the selected villages during April and
May 2013 (néré harvesting season) to observe the harvesting decisions
and behavior of women participants. She accompanied each participant
on their néré pod collection trips, during which observations and de-
tailed notes on collection patterns were taken. For each tree harvested,
specic questions about rights to that tree were posed to construct a
granular and precise picture of each woman's bundle of rights.
The information obtained was coupled with data collected from the
same sample of women participants, through semi-structured inter-
views. In a small subset of women participantshouseholds, other
women household members, aged 55 and over, participated in life
history interviews to describe the evolution of access rights over time
and changes in néré collection patterns and practices. Six elder women
were thus interviewed. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were
carried out with traditional (male) authorities and local representatives
of administrative institutions (e.g. local elected ocials, the head of the
local Development and Environment Committee), as well as technical
stafrom the State Forest Service.
4. Results
4.1. Spatial dynamics of access to néré
Our ndings reveal a diversity of rights to land, trees and their
products in the mosaic landscapes of Burkina Faso's Ziro and Sissili
provinces. Women harvest néré pods in three types of spaces: croplands
and parklands (cultivated elds with scattered trees, mostly néré and
shea), fallows (former elds temporarily left uncultivated to restore soil
fertility), and woodlands.
Dierent authorities and institutions regulate access to these three
types of lands and to néré pods. In each type, rights are not well dened
and depend on various factors, mainly residence status, which coincides
with ethnicity. The Nouni are considered autochthonous in the region,
while the Mossé and Peuhl are considered migrants even after years of
settlement (as detailed in section 3.1 above). Within the same modality
of land acquisition, there are temporal dierences. Moreover, amid new
modes of land acquisition (i.e., purchases), negotiations over tree pro-
ducts take place, with grey zones emerging when novel situations are
not properly accounted for in customary rules. We distinguish four land
access regimes, each aecting dierent groups of néré harvesters:
a) Land under the authority of the household head or lineage
In our study, this type of land represented 42% of the area where
pods were harvested. It includes farmlands belonging to the household,
fallows and small plots that women farm, but not woodland. In this land
type, rights to néré pods are restricted to Nouni lineages. Multiple
lineages occupy this land, which is increasingly assigned to individual
households. Women have harvesting rights for néré pods on their
husband's elds, but these may be weakened when croplands are con-
verted to fallow, as customary owners retain less control over fallow
than over croplands. In addition, Nouni fallow elds can be loaned,
rented to another party, or sold; therefore access rights to the land and
néré pods for the original holder are limited.
b) Land borrowed or rented, under sharecropping arrangements
This type of land is regulated based on arrangement between mi-
grants and autochthones. Migrant Mossé and Fulani borrow land from
Nouni heads of households or lineages, causing overlapping rights over
the same land and to the trees on it. Access, management, exclusion and
alienation rights remain with the lending Nouni head of household. Pod
harvesting rights are subject to more complex regulations and shared
between Nouni and migrants depending on timing of the harvest and
the age of trees. Harvesting rights to trees already present on the land at
the time of the loan remain with the wife of the lending Nouni
household head, while the borrower acquires harvesting rights over
trees that are established on the land after the loan. The wife of the
lending Nouni household head can decide whom to invite to harvest
and share the pods harvested.
Older Mossé and Fulani women who came with the rst wave of
migration, as well as their daughters-in-law, share or negotiate har-
vesting of néré pods with Nouni women from lending households.
Mossé women face limitations in exploiting néré pods, however. The
harvesting right is held by their husbands, who give them permission to
harvest (as explained in the section: 4.2.1). In addition, they are en-
titled to use only the pulp of néré, while its more valuable seeds belong
to their husbands. Fulani women are not subject to the same customary
rules as their Mossé counterparts. The Mossé and Fulani negotiate dif-
ferent arrangements with Nouni women to overcome limitations in
harvesting rights. During the harvest period, Mossé and Fulani women
help Nouni women to harvest trees that were already established on the
land the Nouni lend to migrant households. In exchange, Mossé and
Fulani women receive part of the pods harvested. They also keep illicit
harvesters and birds at bay while working in those elds.
The process of negotiating harvesting rights between autochthonous
and migrant women used to occur peacefully, but is increasingly con-
frontational. According to Mossé women, rst-wave migrants used to
follow customary rules regarding néré harvesting, but their daughters-
in-law now claim the same rights over néré pods as their Nouni coun-
terparts because their husbands, whose parents were migrants, were
born in the village. Furthermore, shifts are occurring, as migrants are
increasingly purchasing land, and by doing so, expecting to gain full
control and rights (access, harvesting, management and alienation)
over the land and all the trees it carries. However, the terms on which
land is purchased or rented are generally dened only verbally, in ne-
gotiations that take place among men. When tree harvesting rights are
transferred to buyers, Nouni women blame their husband for poor
A pilot testing of traditional survey techniques (using questionnaires) and
focus group discussions revealed the diculties of using these methods to in-
vestigate a subject as complex, sensitive, and subtle as tree access rights. This
prompted the use of additional qualitative methods, such as observation of
dynamics on the ground and informal conversational interviews, to triangulate
the information acquired.
C. Pehou, et al. Journal of Rural Studies xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
c) Land that is returned to its owner after a loan
This type of land is lent by the Nouni to migrant households (Mossé
and Fulani) and represents 46% of the area where néré harvests occur.
During the loan period, migrants hold management rights, but when the
land is returned to its (Nouni) owners, Nouni women exploit both their
old trees as well as those established during the loan period. The same
rules apply when this land is successively lent to dierent migrant
households over time.
Under these circumstances, customary rules can be ambiguous and
lead to conicts, especially when the end of a loan period coincides
with the time néré trees that grew during the loan period have reached
maturity and begin to produce pods (at 57 years). Some Mossé (3% of
the study participants) and Fulani (4%) women from formerly bor-
rowing households continue to harvest these trees, but if they are found
doing so, they may have their harvest conscated by Nouni women
from the landholding household.
d) Woodlands under customary leaders' authority
Woodlands include old fallows and pastures that are considered
common property. These are generally described as bushor forest.
Nouni women rarely harvest néré pods in woodlands because néré trees
found in those areas are less productive than those found on other types
of land (i.e., elds and fallows). In addition, woodlands can be far away
from their homestead, and reaching them can be time consuming.
Harvesters with very limited rights to néré pods are the only ones to
harvest pods in these areas. This practice was reported by only a small
fraction of women from migrant families (5%), as a last resort to ac-
quire pods.
4.2. Access rights at the intersection of gender, residence status, seniority,
and marital status
In all the surveyed households, management, exclusion and alie-
nation rights to land are held by men. Native Nouni households have
more secure access rights to land than migrants (Mossé and Fulani). In
the Nouni customary tenure system, land management, exclusion and
alienation rights are under the lineage's authority. With respect to
harvesting rights, women have more decision-making rights on tree
products (e.g., from néré, shea, baobab, etc.) than men. Each male
descendant is entitled to a portion of lineage land. In contrast, ac-
cording to customary practices, the male head of a migrant household
can acquire access and use rights to the land by borrowing it from
Nouni residents. However, as noted above, land rights are decoupled
from the rights to harvest the products of valuable trees already present
on the land at the time land is borrowed.
Tree ownership is in the hands of the male head of the household
from the lineage that settled rst in the area and is extended to all
households from that lineage. The male head of the household from the
lineage that settled rst in the area retains all rights with respect to
trees, including the right to decide to selectively protect, plant or cut
individual trees.
Although trees are under the control of men, rights to harvest néré
products are mostly held by women. Women are the ones who organize
and manage the harvest of néré pods and all other activities related to
their transformation and sale. Customary tenure regulations enable
married women to access néré trees that belong to their husbands'
household or lineage. This right is acquired through marriage and de-
nied to single women. However, the latter adopt strategies to overcome
this lack of access, as discussed below (see section 4.3). Hence, women's
rights to harvest néré depend on their ethnic aliation, residence
status, and seniority within the village's founding lineage, when ap-
plicable. These dierences broadly translate into two user rights
proles: 1) holders of exclusive harvesting rights over néré pods and 2)
holders of shared harvesting rights.
4.2.1. Holders of exclusive harvesting rights over néré pods
Women in this group constitute a minority of participants in the
study (16%). Two thirds of this group are Nouni women from house-
holds or the lineage that rst settled in the area. They decide about
harvest procedures and practices, and whether to include or exclude
women from other groups in the harvest. These Nouni women are au-
tochthonous and can thus make decisions about the rst (and best
quality) harvest of néré from trees located on the lands under the au-
thority of the household head or lineage. The other third of this group is
constituted by: a) rst-wave migrant women and their female descen-
dants whose husbands have access to trees that were established in their
borrowed elds during the loan period, and b) second-wave migrant
women whose husbands have bought the land.
As shown above, among the Nouni, a néré tree belongs either to a
specic household or to a lineage. Responsibility for harvesting from
these trees rests with the household's or lineage's wives. On lineage
land, with its shared ownership status, the oldest wife of the lineage's
head exercises the rights to decide about the harvest of the néré trees.
Lineage land includes both woodlands and household lands, such as
croplands and fallows, distributed to descendants. The oldest wife is the
wife responsible for the lineage's trees, expected to organize the rst
harvest of the season among women in her lineage. To do so, she
monitors the maturity of the trees and denes the starting date for the
harvest with the objective to maximize the number of pods, both ripe
and dry, available for collection when the harvest opens. This is done to
provide all women in the lineage a chance to gather néré pods. If there
is insucient competent labor available within the lineage, the wife
responsible for the lineage's trees may employ the services of Mossé or
Fulani harvesters, usually living in the same village, to collect pods for
her (see section 3.2). There were no cases recorded in this study of
Nouni women oering such services, although we observed that this did
occur in Nebou.
The wife responsible for the lineage's trees only participates in the
season's rst harvest but grants harvesting rights to other women in the
lineage for subsequent harvests, in exchange for which she receives part
of their harvest (between 10 and 50%). In theory, even when the wife
responsible for the lineage trees is no longer physically able to parti-
cipate in the harvest due to her age, she retains her responsibility in pod
management and continues to receive her share of the harvest. In
practice, however, elderly women in this position progressively lose
their privilege or give it away. As one such elder Nouni woman from
Nebou explains: At my age, what can I still do with the pods? It's sucient
if my daughters-in-law prepare everything and serve me. They need the in-
come more than I do, to cover schooling and health expenditures for my
grand-children". Where trees are owned and managed by a particular
household, because they are growing on its land, the wife of the head of
the household is responsible for organizing the harvest. In case of a
polygamous household, it is the rst wife who takes responsibility for
everything related to the household's pods.
On lands belonging to or borrowed by Mossé residents, the owner-
ship of a tree depends on the time of its establishment (see the section b
under 4.1; Land borrowed or rented, under sharecropping arrangements). If
néré trees were established during the loan period, the male household
head exercises management as well as exclusion rights over them. In these
cases, he decides the date of the harvest and its organization. He grants
harvesting rights to his wife or wives, and in large compounds, to his
daughters-in-law. Unlike Nouni wives, who can exercise their har-
vesting rights over néré pods without their husband's permission, Mossé
women need their husband's explicit authorization to harvest pods from
their trees and to extract néré pulp and seeds from the pods. They are
expected to give their entire harvest to their husband, who decide how
much they can keep to prepare soumbala, and how much of this
soumbala they should keep for home consumption versus sale. The
C. Pehou, et al. Journal of Rural Studies xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
husband sells the unprocessed seeds, while his spouse processes the
pulp and seeds allocated to soumbala production for home consumption
and sale. Given the relatively limited size of their household land, and
the small number of trees on it, Mossé women often harvest néré pods
outside these lands to meet the soumbala requirements of their family
and sell some for income.
In Kassolo, a minority of Fulani herders engaged in farming small
plots manage trees growing on lands they borrowed from Nouni
farmers. Fulani women in our study indicated that they manage the
harvest from those trees independently from their husbands, harvest
néré for themselves, keep the pulp for home consumption, and sell the
seeds. Unlike Nouni and Mossé women, Fulani women do not produce
soumbala, but rather sell néré seeds unprocessed and purchase soumbala
for their household's consumption.
4.2.2. Holders of shared harvesting rights
Women in this group dened as wives of the compoundshare
their harvesting rights over pods with other wives in the same lineage
or household. These wives of the compoundcan only access néré upon
authorization of the holders of exclusive harvesting rights, described
above, with whom they must share a percentage of their harvest. The
wife responsible for the lineage's treesgrants them permission and gui-
dance when harvesting néré pods. This group of harvesters represents
nearly one quarter of the women in our study, exclusively from Nouni
and Mossé (rst-wave migrants) ethnic groups.
4.3. Strategies to overcome the lack of access to néré products
The largest group of néré harvesters (approximately 60% of our
sample) is composed mainly by second-wave migrants (ca. two thirds
Mossé and the rest Fulani), who settled in the villages more recently, in
the late 1990s, and who do not have secure land rights. These more
recent settlers have access to less productive and smaller plots than
rst-wave migrants. This is due to an increasing scarcity of land, and to
more stringent conditions imposed by land owners willing to rent their
land only to applicants who comply with specic conditions (e.g.,
willingness to provide them a fraction of their annual cereal harvest).
On these borrowed and rented lands, there are only a few néré trees
established during the loan period, to which new settlers have very
insecure rights. Nouni women from lending households are increasingly
claiming access rights to these young trees due to the aging of néré in
their own elds and a lack of its regeneration.
There is also a small percentage of Nouni women in this group
(11%) who have very limited possibilities to harvest néré products.
These women have weak harvesting rights to néré on lands that their
household have loaned, sold or rented out, in situations where informal
contractual terms maintaining their access to pre-existing néré trees on
these lands are not respected. Harvesters in this group nd alternative
means of obtaining néré pods to satisfy their income, and produce
soumbala for their consumption, as detailed in the next section.
In our study sites, women who lack the right to harvest néré at a
desirable time in any of the contexts described above adopt up to four
dierent strategies to acquire néré pods. First, a large number of women
practice precocious or premature harvesting, collecting néré pods
before those who have customary use rights over the same harvest.
Most households with customary rights attempt to block this practice
by watching over their trees during the day, usually with help from
elders and children in the household. However, in most cases, pre-
mature harvesting takes place at night, when vigilance is lower. During
the néré harvest season, this is a major cause of conicts within com-
munities. In addition, as noted earlier, premature harvesting of the pods
negatively aects the seed fermentation process and compromises the
quality of soumbala. Yet, high market demand, even for low quality néré
seeds and soumbala, provides incentives for premature harvesting.
Mature néré seeds harvested later in the season are instead used for
household consumption and social uses, because of their high quality
(pers. comm., Nouni participant, Nebou village).
Precocious néré collection is reported across the three villages.
When asked about the néré harvesting period, two thirds of the women
interviewed considered that, during the ve years preceding this study,
the harvest had begun on average 15 days earlier than in the past.
Harvesters with limited or no use-rights start picking néré pods on
average 16 days before the traditional start date of the harvest, for a
head start. In comparison, harvesters from the other two groups of
rights holders begin their harvest on average 7 days earlier than the
traditional harvest start date. Premature harvesting is more pronounced
in Nebou (19 days), where settlersland rights are increasingly acquired
through purchase and lease, and in Pien (12 days), where second-wave
migrants have more limited rights to land, than in Kassolo (2 days),
where rst-wave migrants now have relatively secure land rights.
A second strategy adopted is secondary harvesting of leftover
pods. Harvesting the pods left on trees by those who carry out the rst
harvest, exposes harvesters to a lower risk of conict and enables them
to harvest mature pods. However, there is a risk of a meagre harvest
because the pods left on the tree are out of reach of the traditional poles
used for harvesting, and thus dicult to collect. Only skilled tree
climbers among our study participants believed they could obtain a
reasonable harvest that way.
A third strategy for securing néré pods among harvesters with
limited use rights is to oer harvesting services to others. Very few
women adopt this strategy, oering labor in exchange for 1025% of
the harvest. Mainly elder Nouni women with rights to harvest néré in
their compound (wives of the compound) engaged external labor.
According to elder Nouni women, younger Nouni wives (their daugh-
ters-in-law) with shared use rights without control over pods were in-
creasingly losing or lacked the skills to climb néré trees. Women who
oer their harvesting services are mainly wives of second-wave Mossé
or Fulani migrants from households without access rights to néré trees
and pods.
Finally, harvesting in woodlands is another common strategy to
overcome the lack of harvesting rights in croplands and fallows.
Woodlands, which are traditionally under the responsibility of Nouni
elders, do not belong to any individual or family, but rather to all
members of a village community, who are granted use rights to tree
products. According to Nouni customs, néré pods from trees in wood-
lands belong to the head of the village lineage, but out of generosity, he
can grant rights to harvest pods to all Nouni and migrant women re-
sidents, without distinction.
A few Fulani and Mossé women harvest pods in woodlands, while it
is rare to nd Nouni women collecting in these zones, except during
years of low néré pod production. The yield and quality of néré pods
collected in woodlands tend to be low due to higher tree densities in
this type of land use and consequent competition for resources between
néré and other tree species. However, the current decline in availability
of néré pods, combined with increasing harvesting pressure from a
growing number of women, is generating competition among har-
vesters. In these circumstances, Nouni women are compelled to exploit
néré pods in woodlands, competing with their migrant counterparts. In
these cases, Nouni women claim priority of access to pods because they
are autochthonous.
5. Discussion
Among the villages studied, the majority of the land is under the
authority of Nouni autochthones. Community forest areas are under the
authority of the village chief (chef de village), while the rest of the vil-
lage territory is divided between the various Nouni lineages. The de-
cision of a lineage chief to lend his land to a migrant is made in con-
sultation with the village chief, the land chief, and other lineage chiefs,
even if their opinion is only advisory. In theory, no one else can allocate
land to a newcomer without respecting these institutional arrange-
ments, and doing so would put the culprit at risk of being banished
C. Pehou, et al. Journal of Rural Studies xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
(Zongo, 2010). However, these traditional arrangements are increas-
ingly ignored. The arrival of agribusiness entrepreneurs in the region
has created new land acquisition modalities based on gift-giving and
exchanges of food and money. There is leading to individual decisions
about land allocation which favor agribusiness migrant farmers, and to
tensions and conicts with autochthonous groups and within auto-
chthonous themselves.
The use of an intersectional gender framework reveals the com-
plexity of rights to néré, a valued food-tree in Burkina Faso and West
Africa. Our results underscore the heterogeneity of women who harvest
néré pods and the inadequacy of simplistic binary thinking (viz men/
women) to understand tenure in general and tree tenure in particular.
Gender, ethnicity, residence status, and seniority within the lineage all
play a role in determining control and use rights to néré pods. Nouni
women tend to have privileged rights over néré compared to women
from migrant Mossé and Fulani groups. Yet, this generalization conceals
important dierences among Nouni women, who belong to dierent
lineages, which settled in the area at dierent times.
Women access tree products in spaces controlled by other, mainly
male, members of their community, as illustrated in previous studies on
tree rights (Rocheleau and Edmunds, 1997). In addition, women's rights
are dynamic and change over time (Ouedraogo et al., 2010). None of
the women in our study held management and alienation rights; a small
proportion had exclusion rights applied only to néré products and not to
the land. Even Nouni women, who appear to be in a more favorable
position, do not hold inalienable and unalterable rights over néré pods;
they may lose them or need to negotiate them in some circumstances.
As highlighted by Agarwal (1994), women beneting from a privileged
social position are equally exposed to insecurity regarding their access
to land and trees, and their privilege over other women is only relative.
Insecurity emerges especially when land is transferred from one
household to another, usually at the start of a fallow period.
Harvesting rights over tree products from land that is subject to
overlapping access rights (i.e., borrowed land or land returned to the
owner after a loan) are most susceptible to change and their re-
negotiation can cause conicts.In particular, the change from culti-
vated land to fallow, and vice versa, is a sensitive transition for néré
harvesters, which often implies changes in access rights. Our ndings
are in line with other studies that have shown that customary tenure
rights over trees are reinforced when land is under more intensive
management, and weakened when elds are converted to fallows (Boa
et al., 2000;Gausset et al., 2003;Wiersum and Slingerland, 1997).
Thus, intensity and continuity of agricultural production inuence the
exclusivity of rights to trees growing on cultivated land (Gausset et al.,
2003;Lykke et al., 2004).
Our results indicate that when land is transferred via sale, rent or
loan, previously existing rights for both sides in the transaction are
sometimes unclear. Migrants who borrow land for cultivation can lose
their rights over néré trees that are established during the loan period
when the land is returned to its original owner. This situation can di-
minish the willingness of borrowing households to invest in protecting
or planting néré trees. The combination of insecurity around land te-
nure and poorly dened rules over néré exploitation in customary te-
nure systems can lead to conicts and fuel competition for resources.
This can be further enhanced by the signicant in-migration and the
associated increasing demand for land, by an emerging land market, by
the demand for néré products, which remains high despite the docu-
mented cases of substitution with alternative products, by the con-
sequent relatively high price of néré products, and the low level of néré
tree regeneration. This situation is leading women with limited access
to néré pods to nd dierent strategies to secure their harvest, in-
cluding reliance on precocious harvesting and collection of all available
néré pods, posing further constraints on néré tree regeneration.
Customary tenure regimes are also under pressure. A new category
of harvesters, the wives of male descendants of former migrants, are
gaining access to néré pods through purchase or rental of the land by
their husband. These wives have a dierent perception of their rights,
and demand access rights to néré that were previously restricted to
autochthonous residents. In Uganda, Howard and Nabanoga (2007)
have observed that changes in traditional tenure regimes as a result of
external interventions increased social dierentiation and immigration.
In addition, increasing demand for land has modied customary rights
over plants. Likewise, our study revealed that the fast-paced, current
socio-economic transformations challenge the traditional land and tree
tenure system.
A lack of recognition of these complexities and processes of social
change can result in misunderstanding the challenges women face in
accessing tree resources, as the traditional tenure system is not adapting
fast enough to accommodate novel circumstances and may jeopardize
the future of signicant income sources for women. Similar results were
found in Northern Ghana, where shifts in traditional tenure systems
have had implications for néré tree populations and sustainable land
management. Customary authorities and institutions face new chal-
lenges adjusting to social change, particularly with respect to the
management of common property rights. Both those who hold cus-
tomary rights, and those who do not, face insecurity, and this can
translate into unsustainable management practices of natural resources.
Enhancing the enabling institutional environment, including through
appropriate policies and incentives on land and tree tenure, can posi-
tively inuence the adoption of sustainable land management practices
(Etongo et al., 2018b).
6. Conclusions
This study reects the complexity of rights to access néré pods,
moving beyond a dichotomy based on gender to examine the nested
bundles of women's rights. These rights are shaped by several factors of
social dierentiation that extend beyond gender, including ethnicity,
residence status, marital status, seniority within a lineage. Insecure use
rights to néré pods aect mostly women from migrant ethnic groups,
but also a minority of Nouni autochthones. Our ndings underscore the
need to recognize the heterogeneity of women and the stratication of
rights along various axes of social dierentiation, and across spaces and
land use types.
This study illustrates how women's rights to tree products are dy-
namic and relational. Although to dierent degrees, all women in the
study area remain vulnerable to changes in land use or ownership,
which have a direct eect on access rights to néré. Tenure insecurity or
lack of néré harvesting rights create patterns of resource use with ne-
gative outcomes for the sustainability of (néré) tree resources. Early
harvesting of néré pods is one strategy that women with limited use
rights draw upon, which may constrain regeneration of néré trees and
lead to low quality soumbala. The expansion of the néré market, and
more generally, changing values and transactions for land on which the
species grows, challenge the security of women's access to néré. Our
ndings underline the need to consider tree rights in land tenure po-
licies, particularly for valuable trees, like néré. Reforms of environ-
mental and land legislation should contribute to mitigating risks to
women's livelihoods and to guiding changes in customary tenure re-
gimes to account for new social and land dynamics in rural environ-
CRediT authorship contribution statement
Catherine Pehou: Conceptualization, Formal analysis,
Investigation, Methodology, Writing - original draft, Writing - review &
editing. Houria Djoudi: Conceptualization, Investigation,
Methodology, Project administration, Supervision, Validation, Writing -
review & editing. Barbara Vinceti: Conceptualization, Funding acqui-
sition, Project administration, Validation, Writing - review & editing.
Marlène Elias: Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing.
C. Pehou, et al. Journal of Rural Studies xxx (xxxx) xxx–xxx
The research presented in this article has been made possible thanks
to the nancial support granted by the Austrian Development Agency
for the project on Threats to priority food-tree species in Burkina
Faso, led by Bioversity International. Additional support was gener-
ously provided by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and
Agroforestry and the CGIAR Trust Fund Donors.
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... Culturally important trees, such as néré (African locust bean-Parkia biglobosa (Jacq.) R. Br. ex G. Don), baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) and shea (Vitellaria paradoxa C.F. Gaertn.), differ not only in the benefits they provide to people, but also in terms of the complex rights and access arrangements associated with them, which have been finetuned over centuries through social relationships and landscape management by diverse actors (Poudyal 2009;Raebild et al. 2012;Rousseau et al. 2017;Pehou et al. 2020). ...
... Previous research on trees in the West African savannahs has highlighted the role of néré in traditional food systems (Ouoba et al. 2005;Koura et al. 2011;Touré 2018), nutritional security (Vinceti et al. 2018;Koffi et al. 2020;Termote et al. 2020), livelihoods (Kronborg et al. 2013;Pouliot and Treue 2013;Termote et al. 2020), traditional medicine (Arbonnier 2009;Asuzu and Harvey 2003), and access and rights (Gausset et al. 2005;Coulibaly-Lingani et al. 2009;Pehou et al. 2020). However, research is lacking on the centrality of néré in socio-cultural interactions and its role in driving or influencing access rights and benefits within social networks and power relations. ...
... & K. Krause (wild grape) and Tamarindus indica L. (tamarind). Néré products play an important role in nutrition and livelihoods at the study sites; it is frequently consumed by most households across ethnicities (Teklehaimanot 2004;op et al. 2012;Vinceti et al. 2018;Pehou et al. 2020). ...
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Indigenous trees play key roles in West African landscapes, such as the néré tree (Parkia biglobosa (Jacq.) R.Br. ex G.Don). We applied social–ecological network analysis to understand the social–ecological interactions around néré. We documented the benefits néré provides and the multiple social interactions it creates amongst a large range of actors. The flows of rights over the trees and benefits from them formed two hierarchical networks, or cascades, with different actors at the top. The two forms of power revealed by the two cascades of rights and benefits suggest possible powers and counter-powers across gender, ethnicity, and age. We documented how the tree catalyses social interactions across diverse groups to sustain vital social connections, and co-constitute places, culture, and relationships. We argue that a paradigm shift is urgently needed to leverage the remarkable untapped potential of indigenous trees and Cultural Keystone Species in current global restoration and climate change agendas.
... Rural people depend on plant resources and use their accumulated knowledge over time to benefit from them and manage them sustainably (Berkes et al. 2000, Cotton et al. 1997. In sub-Saharan Africa, rural people exploit local plant parts for food, medicine, fodder, energy and to support other aspects of their well-being (Masters et al. 2004, Pehou et al. 2020. The exploitation of local plants, although creating significant income to support the economy of these rural populations and improve their living conditions, is still traditional (artisanal) and local. ...
... Patterns in the distribution of local plant knowledge may vary according to cultural (Kouyaté et al. 2020, Ouédraogo et al. 2019) and socio-economic variables (Aziz et al. 2021, Kouyaté et al. 2020, Lawin et al. 2019. For example, men and women have distinct ethnobotanical knowledge that is related to the different roles they play in the household (Grenier 1998, Howard et al. 2003, Pehou et al. 2020. Thus, to understand the distribution patterns of knowledge within communities, quantitative methods have been used , Souto & Ticktin 2012, including logistic regression models (Kouyaté et al. 2020, Reyes-García et al. 2007, Salako et al 2018. ...
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Background: Saba senegalensis is a woody liana that provides medicinal products, food, income and ecological benefit (soil and water conservation) to the populations in sub-Saharan Africa. In Burkina Faso, the species is mismanaged by the local population, but few studies have been conducted on its uses. This study seeks to understand the local knowledge of S. senegalensis uses and its vulnerability. Methods: Semi-structured ethnobotanical surveys were conducted in the provinces characterized by slightly (Houet), moderately (Mouhoun) and severely (Yatenga) dry climate in Burkina Faso. A total of 180 randomly selected individuals responded to the questionnaire. Socio-demographic characteristics of the informants, the plant parts used, and the categories of uses were recorded. Analyses included an index of uses and vulnerability, importance values of plant parts used, and frequency calculations. Results: Local knowledge of S. senegalensis uses varied according to the locality and informant age. Seven use categories were identified: traditional medicine, food, construction, fodder, handicrafts, domestic energy, and magic. All vegetative organs of S. senegalensis are used. The species’ vulnerability index (IV=2.75) is higher than 2.50, making it vulnerable. The leaves and tendrils plant are the most common plant parts used in traditional medicines. Generally, crude drugs are used in the form of decoction, followed by infusion forms. The diversity of medicinal uses of S. senegalensis highlights the need for future ethno-pharmacological studies of the species. Exploitation of the fruits of the species contributes substantially to food and nutritional security and to improving the living conditions of local populations. Conclusion: Our findings provide essential information for decision-making for effective domestication initiatives for S. senegalensis. The findings also provide a baseline for future research into the development of value chains for the species. They also draw attention to the need for conservation measures for the plant.
... The distribution of tree species within parklands therefore reflects the cumulative land management decision-making of resource managers, as well as how agroecosystems are socially and politically constituted. For instance, local tree tenure systems influence which social groups retain control over specific tree products (Pehou, Djoudi, Vinceti, & Elias, 2020;Rousseau, Gautier, & Wardell, 2017), which in turn may influence whether farmers deliberately retain rootstock and seedlings in their fields (Boffa, 1999;Brottem, 2011;Poudyal, 2011;Schreckenberg, 1999). Tenure systems also condition intra-household decision-making differences between women and men regarding the management of trees on-farm (Elias, 2015;Rousseau et al., 2017). ...
... This was illustrated by the case of P. biglobosa, which farmers and key informants generally identified as disappearing from the landscape. Similar to elsewhere in West Africa (Pehou et al., 2020;Poudyal, 2011;Schreckenberg, 1999), P. biglobosa, or specifically its commercially valuable pod, was traditionally controlled by the chieftaincy or Tindana. In northern Ghana this has disincentivized farmers from retaining P. biglobosa seedlings in their fields, hastening its decline in the landscape (Poudyal, 2011). ...
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Restoring degraded landscapes is critical for achieving global environmental and development goals, and agroforestry is increasingly promoted as a nature-based solution to land degradation. Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is an agroforestry-based approach for restoring degraded agricultural land and it has been widely implemented in African drylands. However, a recent systematic review found significant gaps in the evidence base for FMNR, including that its upscaling has been based on inadequate understandings of local contexts. Furthermore, studies reporting on farmer adoption of FMNR have mainly relied on quantitative data from household surveys, resulting in limited understandings of what motivates farmers who practice FMNR. This paper draws on the results of a qualitative study in northeastern Ghana to address two questions: 1) How and why do farmers practice FMNR? And 2) How does context influence farmers' rationales for practicing FMNR? We found that farmers grounded their perspectives on the utility of FMNR in nuanced understandings of the local farming and land and tree tenure systems. The results of our study also demonstrate how farmers' decision-making was situated within socially and agroecologically differentiated contexts, which were conditioned by long-term, multi-faceted change in the region. We conclude that in spite of the rush to scale up FMNR, more attention should be directed to assessing where, when, and for whom FMNR might be appropriate. Such assessments should be grounded in resource managers' preferences, local agricultural and land and tree tenure systems, and the requisite biophysical conditions for FMNR. To support these efforts, we propose an FMNR suitability assessment framework, based on our findings and those from related studies. As landscape restoration is scaled up globally, initiatives should be informed by evidence demonstrating how and why resource managers might practice a restoration activity as well as how context influences their choices.
... Within the AR4D literature, intersectional analysis has been used to investigate gender, marital status, and intra-household relations (Badstue et al., 2020), gender, age, and educational levels (Marty et al., 2022), gender, age, and ethnicity (Mungai et al., 2017), gender, residence status, ethnicity, and seniority within a lineage (Pehou et al., 2020) and intra-household position, age, marital status, caste, remittance flow, and land ownership (Leder et al., 2017). Intersectionality has also been applied to explore how ethnicity, gender, and class affect food well-being in Bangladesh in AR4D (Ashik et al., 2022). ...
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Applied to agricultural research for development (AR4D), intersectionality can illuminate how gender’s interactions with other axes of social differentiation, such as age, assets base, marital status, race/ethnic community, and caste/class, shape the social dynamics of agricultural systems and technological change to affect gender and development outcomes. However, operationalizing an intersectional approach at both the intervention and research analysis stages of AR4D is very complex and evidence on effective approaches is currently limited. This paper advances intersectionality in AR4D by briefly providing a conceptual framework and delving into a methodological approach that illustrates how practical, applied intersectional research design can be done and how the findings can be used to improve agricultural interventions. An analysis of empirical examples of gender and intersectional approaches in AR4D demonstrates how intersectionality allows us to look beyond homogenous, binary categories of women and men to examine differences and nuances in gender analysis. We demonstrate that while gender is a useful entry point into understanding inequalities relevant to agriculture, using a holistic intersectional approach that assesses which axes of social differentiation are key, and their linkages, is necessary to deepen understanding of how diverse social factors interact and mediate people’s ability to participate, benefit, and be empowered through AR4D.
... Other critical factors may contribute to reduced availability of useful indigenous food tree species: the lack of a tradition to actively plant trees, particularly for women (Gausset et al., 2005;Kiptot & Franzel, 2011), the lack of clear land tenure rights that discourages investments in tree planting or leads to equating tree planting with claiming ownership of the land (Gausset et al., 2003), complex tree tenure arrangements that limit access to valuable trees (Tomomatsu, 2014;Pehou et al., 2020), and customs and taboos associated to some species, based on cultural norms (Balima et al., 2018;Kiptot & Franzel, 2011). Recent investigations have shown that land use intensity (especially grazing and agricultural practices) and dispersal limitation are inhibiting regeneration of tree species in the Sahel, leading to shifts in functional composition, with land use intensity positively associated with an increasing dominance of shorter vegetation, with smaller seeds and more conservative traits (such as high-density wood and thick leaves) which make plants less palatable and help them to better tolerate mechanical disturbance and drought (Lohbeck et al., 2020). ...
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Modern food systems push agriculture to focus on a small number of commercial crops, while there is a very large diversity of untapped edible plants that could be used to address food security and nutrition. Poor and monotonous diets are closely linked to the complex burden of multiple forms of malnutrition and dietary risk. In some contexts, such as West Africa, micronutrient deficiency risks are particularly pronounced. Hence, there is an urgent need to provide people with healthy diets supported by sustainable food systems. Within this context, using nutrition‐sensitive forest landscape restoration to combat environmental degradation could contribute towards ensuring the year‐round availability of nutritious tree‐based food. Diverse diets are important to deliver adequate amounts of the nutrients essential to human health. The consumption of a diversity of food groups is challenging in sub‐Saharan Africa. Trees play an important role in the direct provision of nutritious food items. Forest landscape restoration presents an opportunity to reverse the loss of useful trees, due to degradation, and increase representation of food tree species in the landscape. Here we focused on characterizing the contributions that different food products from trees can make to improving diet diversity in Burkina Faso. A scoring system was developed, based on seasonal availability of edible products and food groups covered, and was integrated into a freely available decision‐making tool that enables carrying out context‐specific, optimal choices of tree species to be considered in forest landscape restoration. Our inventory included 56 food tree species, largely Fabaceae (18 species), providing 81 edible products, mainly fruits (supplied by 79% of tree species), followed by seeds (52%) and leaves (41%). The main food groups represented are ‘Other fruits’ (other than vitamin A‐rich fruits) (covering 52% of the edible products) and dark‐green leafy vegetables (29%). About two thirds of the species listed produce more than a single edible product, a few up to four. A total of 11 species supplied edible products throughout the year. Our results clearly show that seasonal scarcity of food and nutrients in Burkina Faso can be partly mitigated by consuming edible tree products. The methodology can be easily scaled to other geographies. Les systèmes alimentaires modernes se fondent sur un nombre très limité de cultures commerciales, alors qu'une très grande diversité de plantes comestibles inexploitées pourrait assurer la sécurité alimentaire et la nutrition. Les régimes alimentaires appauvris et peu diversifiés sont étroitement liés aux multiples formes de malnutrition et aux risques alimentaires. Dans certains contextes, comme en Afrique de l'Ouest, les défaillances en micronutriments sont particulièrement prononcées. Par conséquent, il urge de développer des régimes alimentaires sains, soutenus par des systèmes alimentaires durables. Dans ce contexte, la restauration des paysages forestiers pour lutter contre la dégradation de l'environnement qui s'inscrit dans une approche sensible à la nutrition pourrait contribuer à assurer la disponibilité tout au long de l'année d'aliments nutritifs dérivés des arbres. Modern food systems push agriculture to focus on a small number of commercial crops, while there is a very large diversity of untapped edible plants that could be used to address food security and nutrition. Poor and monotonous diets are closely linked to the complex burden of multiple forms of malnutrition and dietary risk. In some contexts, such as West Africa, micronutrient deficiency risks are particularly pronounced. Hence, there is an urgent need to provide people with healthy diets supported by sustainable food systems. Within this context, using nutrition‐sensitive forest landscape restoration to combat environmental degradation could contribute towards ensuring the year‐round availability of nutritious tree‐based food.
... In some areas, due to extreme competition in accessing the resource, people harvest P. biglobosa pods before their complete maturity, and this is likely to affect the regeneration of the species and the quality (taste and nutritional properties) of the edible products derived from the pods. [12]. ...
... Other works have also used intersectionality exclusive to direct attention towards different modes of access and control over resources. For example, Pehou et al. (2020) examined women's access to Parkia biglobosa, a fruit tree, in Burkina Faso. They observed that access to the fruit tree was not uniform but depended on women's seniority, ethnicity, and residency status. ...
Since the emergence of collaborative resource governance in the 1990s, many scientists, governments, and development practitioners are working to improve forest-fringe communities (FFCs) involvement in forest management for better outcomes. However, how such efforts affect inequalities within communities in resource frontiers is underexplored, even more so in forest monitoring. This study attempts to overcome this challenge through a qualitative analysis of intersectionality of the actors engaged in community forest monitoring (CFM) and its effects on inequality among FFCs in Ghana. Data were collected through focus group discussions and interviews with community forest monitors, forestry officials and NGOs in eight forest districts and content analyses applied to the transcripts. The findings revealed that CFM has introduced new forms of agency in the study localities, stirred gender norms and practices, leading to the further exclusion of some of the most marginalised actors. For example, by constructing CFM as a physically demanding and confrontational activity, and females as nurturers, men wrestle control over monitoring roles, confining women to clerical and household duties. Furthermore, by painting migrants as ’illegal farmers’ that destroy protected forests, indigenes exclude migrants from participating in community forest monitoring. Meanwhile, indigenes are equal culprits of illicit farming as their way of resisting the state’s appropriation of their ancestral lands. The findings suggest that development agencies need to pay more attention to how they constitute CFM groups, giving keen attention to local political dynamics and intersectionality among community actors if equitable inclusion is to be achieved.
... However, women's landownership did not necessarily increase women's autonomy in using agricultural income, decrease women's workloads, or increase women's participation in cultivation-specific decisions in Northern Ghana. Pehou et al. (2020) found that several social factors affect intrahousehold negotiated tenure arrangements that are key to women's ability to access land and trees néré harvesting in Burkina Faso, suggesting that land tenure arrangements for women exist in a tension between national legal frameworks and customary land laws and governance. Doss et al. (2015) suggests that improving women's security of tenure and control of outputs is an important determinant of land management and yields. ...
Achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in food systems can result in greater food security and better nutrition, and in more just, resilient, and sustainable food systems for all. This paper uses a scoping review to assess the current evidence on pathways between gender equality, women’s empowerment, and food systems. The paper uses an adaptation of the food systems framework to organize the evidence and identify where evidence is strong, and where gaps remain. Results show strong evidence on women’s differing access to resources, shaped and reinforced by contextual social gender norms, and on links between women’s empowerment and maternal education and important outcomes, such as nutrition and dietary diversity. However, evidence is limited on issues such as gender considerations in food systems for women in urban areas and in aquaculture value chains, best practices and effective pathways for engaging men in the process of women’s empowerment in food systems, and for addressing issues related to migration, crises, and whether local food systems food systems are more empowering to women. And while there are gender informed evaluation studies that examine the effectiveness of gender- and nutrition-sensitive agricultural programs, evidence to indicate the long-term sustainability of such impacts remains limited. The paper recommends keys areas for investment: improving women’s leadership and decision-making in food systems, promoting equal and positive gender norms, improving access to resources, and building cross-contextual research evidence on gender and food systems.
... Gender relations, norms, values and practices were also at the centre of FTA research, with the aim of understanding their influence on forest management structures and the development and uptake of innovation in diversified forest management approaches. Research also focused on understanding tenure patterns for a highly valuable tree species (Parkia biglobosa or néré) -see Pehou et al. (2020), on the differentiated access to this species for women and men across ethnic groups; on the gender-differentiated knowledge of agroecology and biodiversity (Elias and Fernandez 2014;Elias 2016), including intraspecific differences in trees (Vitellaria paradoxa, or shea; see Karambiri et al. 2017); on gender analyses of political-economic factors affecting community forest management in Central America (Millner et al. 2020); and on options for increasing the participation of women in inclusive management of native fruit trees in Malaysia and India (Faridah et al. 2017;Hegde et al. 2017) and in joint forest management in India . Building on participatory approaches, Jalonen et al. (2018b) identified community-based and gender-responsive solutions for sustainably managing non-timber forest species in two Indian states. ...
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Forests and trees are critical for the survival of life on earth. They conserve a tremendous biodiversity and fulfill essential ecosystem services such as climate regulation, cycling of nutrients and water. They contribute to food and nutrition security, are a major source of raw materials and offer countless livelihood opportunities. However, forests and trees are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic pressures such as overexploitation and land conversion, which are intensified by climate change. At the same time countless tree species and their forest genetic resources (FGR) with exceptional potential uses for supporting the global transition to low carbon food systems and the UN decade on Ecological Restoration are badly conserved and remain critically underutilized. For the last 10 years, the FTA program has set in place research activities that focused on understanding pressures on and threats to populations of socio-economically important tree species; formulating effective, efficient and equitable safeguards for tree genetic resources that are adapted to the local context and species characteristics; and promoting conservation and characterization of germplasm of high-value tree species from forests to farms. FTA has also conducted a range of ecosystem- and landscape-level research projects that explored how silvicultural and monitoring practices can support sustainable timber production while ensuring delivery of multiple ecosystem services, including biodiversity conservation, carbon storage, livelihood support and nutrition security from forest foods. Much of the program’s later work focused on multiple-use forest management. This review of the program’s most salient experiences — derived from a decade of collaborative research — presents a portfolio of the most promising solutions and the significant contributions to global conservation and sustainable use of tree biodiversity. These achievements also contribute to the international policy arena, particularly to the strategic objectives of various conventions (the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification), and to the efforts led by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to develop a global conservation strategy for forest genetic resources.
... Female farmers in Ghana are less likely to adopt new agricultural practices due to limited access to resources including land, education and extension services [43]. However, as in other West African cultures, certain crops have more potential to address those gender gaps as they are traditionally classified as "feminine", particularly indigenous food trees species such as shea and African locust bean (Parkia biglobosa) [44]. These trees are crucial for women's income in northern Ghana as women prioritize their use to meet immediate needs such as food, schooling and healthcare [45]. ...
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From 2016–2019, the West African Forest-Farm Interface (WAFFI) project engaged with smallholder farmers in northern Ghana to explore mechanisms to improve the influence of under-represented peoples, particularly women, in decision-making processes and platforms that affect their access to natural resources. Through a multi-phase process of participatory activities, including auto-appraisal, participatory action research (PAR) and facilitated knowledge exchange, villagers and researchers worked together to document and develop a better understanding of the challenges and changes facing women and men in the region to generate social learning. Among these challenges, the degradation of forest resources due to over exploitation, weak governance and conflict of use over shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa) were particularly important for women. The WAFFI approach created a scaffold for social learning that strengthened the capacity of local stakeholders to share their perspectives and opinions more effectively in multi-stakeholder forums and dialogue related to resource use and land use change initiatives.
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La participation et la coordination des acteurs dans la gestion du territoire visent une meilleure efficacité. Ainsi, en milieu rural burkinabé, la problématique de la sécurisation foncière a conduit depuis 2009 à la mise en place des chartes foncières locales. Celles-ci se fondent sur des accords locaux de gestion des ressources naturelles d’utilisation commune conforment aux lois sectorielles et respectant les spécificités locales. Dans la pratique, la charte foncière locale fait face à la nécessité d’articulation et de coordination des usages et des activités pour une production durable, induisant la question principale de recherche : « quels rôles jouent les chartes foncières locales dans la gouvernance des territoires qui en sont dotés » ? L’hypothèse principale est : «la charte foncière locale permet la gouvernance territoriale, car elle favorise la connaissance du territoire, les changements dans les pratiques des acteurs et qu’elle entraîne des effets territoriaux par la reconfiguration des réseaux d’acteurs». Les études de cas des chartes foncières locales de Bama et de Koumbia, furent conduites dans la région des Hauts-Bassins à l’ouest du Burkina Faso, zone de forte production agricole du pays. Koumbia est située dans le bassin cotonnier et agropastoral et Bama dans l’une des premières plaines rizicoles du pays. Des entretiens semi-directifs et de l’observation directe ont permis de vérifier notre hypothèse au prisme du cadre d’analyse de la gouvernance territoriale. L’analyse de contenu, le diagnostic territorial et la typologie des règles de gestion connues par les acteurs sont les méthodes spécifiques de traitement des données. Les entretiens autour des pratiques mises en œuvre par les acteurs locaux ont permis d’affiner les analyses afin d’identifier les enjeux que l’utilisation des chartes foncières pose. Les résultats de l’analyse de contenu montrent que les chartes foncières locales assurent la prise en compte du multi-usage des ressources, et la coordination des différents centres de décision pour permettre le polycentrisme des règles. Elles formalisent de nouveaux modes de gestion des conflits d’usage qui favorisent l’établissement du consensus au niveau local. À Koumbia, la prise en compte de l’usage agricole des résidus de culture entre dans ce cadre. Néanmoins, dans les deux situations étudiées, les apprentissages nécessaires à la négociation entre acteurs autour des enjeux territorialisés sont faibles. Les résultats du diagnostic de territoire montrent que les intérêts collectifs sont orientés vers la gestion des produits forestiers non ligneux, la production agricole ou halieutique, la vente collective et les travaux d’intérêt général autour des infrastructures sociales. Les acteurs clés de la gestion endogène des ressources d’utilisation commune sont les associations locales dont les objectifs de création sont différents de ces problématiques d’intérêts collectifs. Les relations de coopération sont prépondérantes et suivies des relations hiérarchiques entre acteurs. Les acteurs qui portent les initiatives endogènes autour des ressources d’utilisation commune n’ont pas la gestion de ces ressources comme objectifs principaux. Cela est un défi quant à la pérennisation de telles initiatives. En outre, l’enjeu de gestion endogène des produits forestiers non ligneux se situe dans le risque de fragmentation des espaces à travers le cloisonnement des espaces d’exploitation des ressources communes. Ce second enjeu est partagé entre les pratiques effectives et les règles de la charte autour des résidus de culture. Il permet de mettre à jour la logique de propriété individuelle autour des ressources d’utilisation commune, car le propriétaire peut en autoriser ou restreindre l’accès. Cette logique commune à la charte et aux pratiques des acteurs locaux montre la nécessité de construire une vision commune et partagée du territoire afin de favoriser la gouvernance territoriale.
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In Southwestern Burkina Faso the pressure on land is becoming stronger, especially in Gouin region in the department of Niangoloko. Indeed, the population growth consequent to the influx of migrants from other parts of the country and the Ivory Coast in recent years results in a fast increase in space occupancy, compromising thus the generosity of the indigenous people. In this new area of agricultural colonization, land adjustments allow fewer modes of access to land than the traditional custom. Indeed, land transactions and their regulation mechanisms have changed profoundly, passing from traditional and symbolic forms (grant, loan) to monetised forms (sale and rental). Moreover, from traditional and religious regulation forms the land system moved to a more liberal regulation dominated by the introduction of documents (sales receipts) established by new forms of authority.
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Aim of study: Edible products from tree species were identified in Burkina Faso and their contribution to the diet in the lean season was assessed. The main threats affecting most consumed food tree species were also documented.Area of study: Six villages across two phytogeographic regions of Burkina FasoMaterial and methods: Focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews, including a 7-day dietary intake recall targeting women; semi-structured interviews targeting key male informants.Main results: The number of edible tree products consumed was found to vary according to phytogeographic region and ethnic group. A few tree species played a disproportionally greater role in the diet and were characterized by very high frequency of consumption by the majority of households in both phytogeographic regions and across ethnicities: Adansonia digitata, Parkia biglobosa and Vitellaria paradoxa. These species are not critically endangered at country level but they are perceived as scarcely available at local level. Considering that the main threats on priority tree species (fires, drought, pest and diseases) vary across regions, to maintain sustainable sources of nutrients in the landscape, mitigation measures should be diversified and adapted to local pressures.Research highlights: Priorities for conservation are emerging clearly, but research efforts should also target underutilized tree species for their potential to diversify nutrient-poor diets.
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This paper reviews the literature on women’s land rights (WLR) and poverty reduction. It uses the Gender, Agriculture and Assets Project (GAAP) conceptual framework to identify pathways by which WLR could reduce poverty and increase wellbeing of women and their households in rural areas. It uses a systematic review search methodology to identify papers for inclusion, but adopts a more synthetic approach to assess the level of agreement and the amount of evidence within this literature. The paper examines the evidence from qualitative as well as quantitative studies on each of these pathways. Owing to the scarcity of experimental studies, the review of empirical work is based mostly on observational studies. We find some evidence on these relationships, but many of the key pathways have not been empirically analyzed. The evidence is strong for relationships between WLR and bargaining power and decision-making on consumption, human capital investment, and intergenerational transfers. There is a high level of agreement, but weaker evidence on the relationship between WLR and natural resource management, government services and institutions, empowerment and domestic violence, resilience and HIV risk, and consumption and food security. There is less agreement and insufficient evidence on the associations between WLR and other livelihoods, and a higher level of agreement, but still limited evidence on associations between WLR and credit, technology adoption, and agricultural productivity. Notably, we find no papers that directly investigate the link between WLR and poverty. Many gaps in the evidence arise from a failure to account for the complexity of land rights regimes, the measurement of land rights at the household level, the lack of attention paid to gender roles, and the lack of studies from countries outside Africa. Many studies are limited by small sample sizes, the lack of credible counterfactuals, lack of attention to endogeneity and selection bias, and possible response bias on questions of domestic violence and empowerment. There are very few rigorous evaluations of reforms that strengthened WLR. The paper concludes that gaps in the evidence should not deter the careful design and implementation of programs and policies to strengthen WLR, given the ongoing land tenure reforms in many countries. Different modalities and mechanisms for strengthening WLR could be tested, with appropriate counterfactuals. Program designers and evaluators can strategically identify pathways and outcomes where evidence gaps exist, and deliberately design studies to close those gaps.
Applying a feminist and environmentalist approach to her investigation of how the changing global economy affects rural women, Carolyn Sachs focuses on land ownership and use, cropping systems, and women’s work with animals in highly industrialized as well as developing countries.Viewing rural women’s daily lives in a variety of circumstances, Sachs analyzes the rich multiplicity of their experiences in terms of their gender, class, and race. Drawing on historical and contemporary research, rural women’s writings, and in-depth interviews, she shows how environmental degradation results from economic and development practices that disadvantage rural women. In addition, she explores the strategies women use for resistance and survival in the face of these trends.Offering a range of examples from different countries, Gendered Fields will appeal to readers interested in commonalities and differences in women’s knowledge of and interactions with the natural environment.
We analyzed the perceptions of resource persons from three stakeholder groups on the benefits, challenges and opportunities offered by joint forest management (JFM) in the Ziro province of Southern Burkina Faso. In other words, a strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) approach in combination with an analytic hierarchy process (AHP) was applied. Results reveal that resource persons of the three stakeholder groups perceive the positive aspects of JFM to outweigh the negative aspects. In addition, favorable institutional setup received the highest overall factor score for strength. Inadequate enforcement of the management plans is the weakness with the highest score and the overall priority score for weaknesses was highest for resource persons from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MESD). On the other hand, better community relations received the highest overall factor for opportunities while uncertainty in decision making at higher levels was perceived as the most important threat to JFM in the Ziro province of Southern Burkina Faso. Therefore, differences in views and addressing realities on the ground requires the participation of all stakeholders in the design, implementation and follow-up of JFM to arrive at a consensus that is capable of delivering the twin challenges of environmental protection and rural development.