Gender and Land in Traditional Land Management Area (TLMA) Mwansambo in Malawi: Gender Assessment Brief

The USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program is working with the government of Malawi to support gender-responsive customary land registration in the traditional land management area (TLMA) Mwansambo in Nkhotakota District.

Traditional Authority (TA) Mwansambo is predominantly rural and farming dependent. It is a Chewa matrilineal area that normally has broader women’s rights to land, but with a patrilocal form of marriage (chitengwa) that tends to restrict women’s land rights. ILRG will provide technical assistance to strengthen the district-level land registry and support land clerks; promote the inclusion of women and youth in the land documentation process; engage key stakeholders to shift gender norms around women’s land rights; and convene dialogues with national and international stakeholders to discuss lessons learned and build positive momentum.

To better understand the barriers and opportunities for gender-responsive and socially inclusive customary land registration and inform program implementation, a gender assessment was carried out in September and October 2021. Quantitative data was gathered through a semi-structured questionnaire with 447 respondents. Qualitative data was collected through in-depth key informant interviews with 19 stakeholders at national, district, and community levels, as well as 15 focus group discussions (FGD) and participatory exercises with 180 men, women, young men, and young women from seven communities. This brief provides an overview of the findings and recommendations of the assessment; the full gender assessment report with details on the methodology, a socioeconomic profile of TA Mwansambo, findings, recommendations, and data collection tools can be found here.

Issue Brief: Environmental Defenders

This USAID Issue Brief on Environmental Defenders provides an introduction to the range of issues facing environmental defenders worldwide, followed by a discussion of key areas of engagement and donor support that demonstrate possible responses to protect the rights and well-being of environmental defenders.

Environmental defenders are people who “take a stand and peaceful action against the unjust, discriminatory, corrupt, or damaging exploitation of natural resources or the environment.”[1] They are made up of diverse groups and individuals, including Indigenous Peoples, rural communities, local conservation and forest monitors, environmental activists, human rights advocates, journalists, lawyers, and women and youth leaders.

The grievances of environmental defenders are enmeshed in broader governance challenges—including many areas of continuing focus for USAID programming and core USAID policy concerns, such as the Strategy on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, Biodiversity Policy, Climate Strategy 2022-2030, Policy on Promoting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, and the U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption.

Unfortunately, environmental defenders are under threat. In 2020, there were 227 reported killings of environmental defenders, a rate of nearly 5 per week, and the worst year on record. Global Witness and its partners documented 2,177 killings of environmental defenders from 2002-2022. [2] The actual numbers are very likely higher as some deaths go unreported by official sources or the circumstances are difficult to verify.

Sources:

[1] Global Witness. 2021. Last Line of Defence: The Industries Causing the Climate Crisis and Attacks Against Land and Environmental Defenders.

[2] Ibid.

Incorporating Land and Resource Governance in Other Development Sectors

Land and natural resources are discrete, finite, and fundamentally important assets. In developing countries, they constitute a substantial part of personal and national wealth. A country’s approach to land and resource governance (LRG) contributes significantly to its broader socioeconomic development. LRG is increasingly recognized as a foundational component of many key environment and sustainable development strategies, and effective LRG strategies at all scales can contribute to achieving positive human well-being and environmental outcomes.

Strengthened LRG is a catalyst for sustainable economic growth. If well governed, land and natural resources are also fundamental for achieving many other development objectives, from conserving biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change, to empowering women and bolstering civil society. If poorly managed, they can exacerbate environmental degradation and increase inequality, corruption, and conflict.

This series of reference sheets are aimed at USAID Missions and other Operating Units interested in integrating LRG into their programming. Each reference sheet in this series briefly outlines existing evidence on the links between LRG and an adjacent development topic—and provides practical guidance for integrating LRG considerations across the Program Cycle.

 

Incorporating Land and Resource Governance into Biodiversity Conservation Programming

Land and natural resources are discrete, finite, and fundamentally important assets. In developing countries, they constitute a substantial part of personal and national wealth. A country’s approach to land and resource governance (LRG) can contribute significantly to its broader socioeconomic development. LRG is increasingly recognized as a foundational component of many key environment and sustainable development strategies. Effective LRG strategies at all scales can contribute to achieving positive human well-being and environmental outcomes (Tseng et al., 2021).

Strengthened LRG is a catalyst for sustainable economic growth. If well governed, land and natural resources are also fundamental for achieving many other development objectives, from conserving biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change, to empowering women and bolstering civil society. If poorly managed, they can exacerbate environmental degradation and increase inequality, corruption, and conflict.

This reference sheet is part of a series of materials aimed at USAID Missions and other Operating Units interested in integrating LRG into their programming. Each reference sheet in this series briefly outlines existing evidence on the links between LRG and an adjacent development topic—in this case, biodiversity conservation—and provides practical guidance for integrating LRG considerations across the Program Cycle.

Incorporating Land and Resource Governance into Democracy and Conflict Programming

Land and natural resources are discrete, finite, and fundamentally important assets. In developing countries, they constitute a substantial part of personal and national wealth. A country’s approach to land and resource governance (LRG) contributes significantly to its broader socioeconomic development. LRG is increasingly recog-nized as a foundational component of many key environment and sustainable development strategies, and effective LRG strategies at all scales can contribute to achieving positive human well-being and environmental outcomes.

Strengthened LRG is a catalyst for sustainable economic growth. If well governed, land and natural resources are also fundamental for achieving many other development objectives, from conserving biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change, to empow-ering women and bolstering civil society. Secure LRG can also provide a basis for property tax systems that support public sector service provision. If poorly managed, they can exacerbate environmental degradation and increase inequality, corruption, and conflict.

This reference sheet is part of a series of materials aimed at USAID Missions and other Operating Units interested in integrating LRG into their programming. Each reference sheet in this series briefly outlines existing evidence on the links between LRG and an adjacent development topic—in this case, democracy and conflict—and provides practical guidance for integrating LRG considerations across the Program Cycle.

Incorporating Land and Resource Governance into Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Programming

Land and natural resources are discrete, finite, and fundamentally important assets. In developing countries, they constitute a substantial part of personal and national wealth. A country’s approach to land and resource governance (LRG) contributes significantly to its broader socioeconomic development. LRG is increasingly recognized as a foundational component of many key environment and sustainable development strategies, and effective LRG strategies at all scales can contribute to achieving positive human well-being and environmental outcomes.

Strengthened LRG is a catalyst for sustainable economic growth. If well governed, land and natural resources are also fundamental for achieving many other development objectives, from conserving biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change, to empowering women and bolstering civil society. If poorly managed, they can exacerbate environmental degradation and increase inequality, corruption, and conflict.

This reference sheet is part of a series of materials aimed at USAID Missions and other Operating Units interested in integrating LRG into their programming. Each reference sheet in this series briefly outlines existing evidence on the links between LRG and an adjacent development topic—in this case, gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) —and provides practical guidance for integrating LRG con-siderations across the Program Cycle.

Incorporating Land and Resource Governance into Climate Change Programming

Land and natural resources are discrete, finite, and fundamentally important assets. In developing countries, they constitute a substantial part of personal and national wealth. A country’s approach to land and resource governance (LRG) contributes significantly to its broader socioeconomic development. LRG is increasingly recognized as a foundational component of many key environment and sustainable development strategies, and effective LRG strategies at all scales can contribute to achieving positive human well-being and environmental outcomes (White House, 2021).

Strengthened LRG is a catalyst for sustainable economic growth. If well governed, land and natural resources are also fundamental for achieving many other development objectives, from conserving biodiversity and mitigating the impacts of climate change, to empowering women and bolstering civil society. If poorly managed, they can exacerbate environmental degradation and conservation crimes, and increase inequality, corruption, and conflict.

This reference sheet is part of a series of materials aimed at USAID Missions and other Operating Units interested in integrating LRG into their programming. Each reference sheet in this series briefly outlines existing evidence on the links between LRG and an adjacent development topic—in this case, climate change—and provides practical guidance for integrating LRG considerations across the Program Cycle.

Issue Brief: Natural Climate Solutions and Land and Resource Governance

The effectiveness of tenure interventions to reduce land-based greenhouse gas emissions

A central challenge facing USAID and other stakeholders committed to climate action is how to reduce land-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions given that land use, including agriculture and forestry, account for almost a quarter of annual emissions globally (Seddon et al. 2020, p. 2). There are a range of potential pathways available to achieve the 1.5-degree Celsius (1.5C) target that vary in their relative reliance on fossil fuel emissions reductions, bioenergy, and carbon capture and storage technologies (e.g., long-term geological storage of CO2) (Figure 1; IPCC, 2018). However, in all scenarios, a decrease in land-based GHG emissions and support for land-based carbon removal is essential, without which we will not achieve the 1.5C target.

Climate change mitigation solutions in the agriculture, forestry, and land use (AFOLU) sector have been termed Natural Climate Solutions (NCS). NCS are a suite of protection, restoration and improved land management pathways that reduce land-based GHG emissions and increase rates of CO2 sequestration (Griscom et al. 2020, p. 2). NCS can provide up to 37 percent of the GHG mitigation needed by 2030 to stay on track for a 2-degree Celsius target (Griscom et al., 2017). This estimate does not fully account for implementation feasibility; it also estimated the potential area for natural regeneration that some criticize as too high (Seddon et al. 2020, p. 4). Because of these limitations, the 37 percent estimate is probably an upper limit for the potential contribution of NCS. Nevertheless, NCS such as avoiding deforestation and forest restoration are essential pathways for climate change mitigation.

This issue brief focuses on the two NCS pathways estimated to have the largest climate change mitigation potential globally – avoided deforestation and forest restoration – and the land and resource governance (LRG) or tenure interventions that can contribute to those two pathways. The counterfactual evidence for the impact of LRG interventions on native forest restoration is scant, although this gap is beginning to be recognized (Mansourian, 2016; McLain et al., 2021). No such counterfactual evidence was uncovered when preparing this brief and thus we focus on avoided deforestation impacts. There is a robust literature, including systematic reviews, on the biophysical determinants of native forest restoration. In particular, there are multiple reviews comparing the outcomes of more active versus more passive forms of forest restoration (e.g. Meli et al., 2017; Crouzeilles et al., 2017). Yet, sustained native forest restoration is unlikely to occur unless the underlying human drivers of deforestation are changed. That in turn requires effective interventions, which are the event/program/package that independently brings about this desired change.

Read the full issue brief here.

Prepared by: Tim Holland, Tetra Tech (Integrated Land and Resource Governance program) and Caleb Stevens, USAID (Land and Resource Governance Division)

Brief: Gender-Based Violence in the Natural Resource Sector in Zambia

Gender-based violence (GBV) is pervasive in the natural resource sector. Commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the 2020 groundbreaking study Gender-based violence and environment linkages: the violence of inequality by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (Castañeda Camey et al., 2020) brought attention to the linkage between GBV and women’s access to and use of natural resources from forests and wildlife, as well as in conservation and anti-poaching efforts. This brief supports the growing evidence base around this link, highlighting multiple forms of GBV faced by women in natural resource governance committees and wildlife enforcement career pathways in Zambia. The goal of this brief is to raise awareness of GBV risks within the sector and identify mitigation responses by governments, civil society organizations, donors, the private sector, and communities.

The natural resource space is a growing economic sector in many developing countries, but it remains largely male dominated. Yet women’s participation in natural resource governance and enforcement can lead to improved conservation and socioeconomic outcomes. As they are frequently the main people responsible for collecting water, food, and fuel for their families, women have a strong vested interest in how natural resources are managed and bring unique knowledge and perspectives. A growing body of evidence shows that women’s participation in community resource governance brings benefits not only to women, but to their families, communities, and conservation efforts more broadly (see Beaujon Marin & Kuriakose, 2017; Leisher et al., 2016; Mwangi et al., 2011; Agarwal, 2009).

Women’s participation in the natural resource sector increases their income earning potential, through formal employment or sharing benefits from commercializing resources. This in turn can increase their decision-making power in the household and lead to improved spending on education, health, and nutrition. Involving women in governance and enforcement increases the adoption of sustainable practices that decrease pressure on forests and other resources. It also enhances rule compliance and dissemination of information through women’s formal and informal networks, often influencing others in the community to follow rules, be vigilant, and report intruders. Finally, as women hold a disproportionate share of caring responsibilities, their engagement in resource management instills a conservation ethic in children, contributing towards sustainable conservation in the future.

Despite the many benefits associated with greater gender equality in community resource governance and law enforcement, women remain largely excluded. Moreover, women’s engagement in these male-dominated spaces can lead to multiple forms of GBV. The relationship between GBV and natural resources has been increasingly documented and analyzed.

Following the 2020 IUCN study, USAID continues to fund research and innovative programming to better understand and address GBV in the environmental sector. The 2020 report showed how GBV can be used as a form of socioeconomic control to maintain or promote unequal and gendered access, ownership, use and control of natural resources like forests and wildlife. A subsequent gender assessment of the wildlife sector in Zambia carried out by the USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) program found that women and girls are frequently exposed to physical, psychological, economic, and sexual violence when accessing and using resources (Malasha & Duncan, 2020). As combating wildlife and forestry crime becomes increasingly militarized, women face risks of physical and sexual violence perpetrated both by enforcement officers and poachers (Castañeda Camey et al., 2020). Finally, GBV risks are particularly high in community natural resource governance structures and law enforcement that remain highly male-dominated.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is any harm or potential of harm perpetrated against a person or group on the basis of their gender or gender identity. It includes several expressions of violence such as physical, psychological, and sexual abuse; threats; coercion; arbitrary deprivation of liberty; and economic deprivation of income, property, and resources. GBV affects women and girls disproportionately and is perpetrated by individuals, groups of individuals, or institutions. This violence happens in the household, workplace, schools, streets, and any other public or private space. GBV has direct and indirect, tangible and intangible consequences for individuals, households, communities, and society, constituting a major barrier to development outcomes.

The potential for GBV related to natural resource management is particularly increased when there are environmental stressors and threats that lead to scarcity of resources, and when there is potential for economic gain – for instance through management of government and private funding (e.g., from hunting licenses) and through illegal wildlife trade. Women are often exposed to GBV risks as enforcement institutions use them in sting operations to attempt to obtain information about trespassers and poachers. Women who manage to break into the male-dominated field of wildlife or forestry enforcement are particularly at risk of experiencing GBV on the job (Castañeda Camey et al., 2020).

Women holding positions in natural resource governance and enforcement can also experience violence at the household level and in the broader community, as they are perceived to challenge gender norms about roles considered appropriate for men and women. When norms are being challenged without the engagement and sensitization of men and the broader community, it can lead to backlash. Women’s empowerment in the natural resource sector may lead to increased physical and psychological abuse as men attempt to re-establish control over natural resource management (Haberern, 2021).

As is the case in many countries, experiences of GBV are widespread in Zambia. According to the 2018 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey, 36 percent of women have experienced physical violence at least once since the age of 15 and 32 percent of ever-married women have experienced controlling behaviors by their husbands (Zambia Statistics Agency et al., 2019). Despite the adoption of the Anti-Gender-Based Violence Act in 2011, GBV is deeply rooted in wider gender inequality and remains pervasive and tolerated, especially in rural areas (Malasha & Duncan, 2020).

Despite the risks, women continue striving to enter and remain in the sector. Given how many women still want to play a role in natural resource management (and the downstream environmental and community benefits from greater women’s involvement), the USAID ILRG program has been working with stakeholders to raise awareness of and, critically, to mitigate the risks of GBV so these women can continue to be effective agents for change in their communities. Over the past several years, ILRG has been working with government institutions and a range of civil society and non-governmental organization (NGO) stakeholders to increase women’s participation in the wildlife and forest management sectors in Zambia, both as elected members of community governance committees and as wildlife enforcement officers.

ILRG used findings from the gender assessment of the wildlife sector in Zambia and the IUCN report to inform program design and generate awareness within the sector of the critical need to develop mitigation strategies to reduce GBV risks while empowering women in wildlife governance and law enforcement. In addition to raising awareness about the benefits of greater women’s participation in the natural resource sector and the risks of GBV with community members and traditional leaders, ILRG has worked to equip women with the technical and socioemotional skills to meaningfully participate in their new roles. The project has also provided newly elected male and female community governance committee members and wildlife scouts with training on gender equality and social inclusion, including a unit on GBV risks and mitigation efforts and information on GBV referral pathways.

As part of this continued follow-up and support for partner organizations and women leaders, ILRG collected qualitative data and case studies about GBV experiences from women committee members and women wildlife scouts. These were not necessarily women with whom ILRG directly worked and supported but a broader sample of women leaders working in the natural resource space. The interviews were used to inform future work on GBV and to give a snapshot of sector-wide dynamics, both within and outside of ILRG-supported engagements. This continued collection and analysis of evidence on the relationship between women’s participation in the natural resource sector and GBV is critical to further advance stakeholder awareness, inform GBV-responsive programming, and draw lessons learned and best practices that can be applied in Zambia and other countries.

The brief identifies the forms of GBV faced by women in wildlife community governance roles and in wildlife law enforcement, describing how violence occurs both in private and public spaces, perpetrated by different people and institutions. These stories illustrate the inherent challenges that come with women entering traditionally male-dominated spaces, and the backlash they sometimes face within the household, community, and institutions. The brief also describes how the USAID ILRG program has worked to mitigate these GBV risks while empowering women to take on leadership positions in natural resource governance (throughout the brief and in the conclusions and recommendations at the end). The findings have helped inform further ILRG program adaptation and recommendations for donors and agencies working to promote women’s participation in the natural resources space, highlighted in the final section of this brief.

The individuals mentioned have given their consent to have their stories shared; their names and other potentially identifying information have been omitted/changed for their privacy and safety. The photograph used does not depict any of the women or specific events described in the document.