Gender roles and their implications in charcoal production and marketing in Makunka area of Kazungula district, Zambia

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Siakachoma, Kebby.
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The University of Zambia
Although the charcoal value chain generates significant employment opportunities, men and women do not necessarily participate the same way, and benefits may not be evenly distributed between them. Gender is a core issue deserving of distinction among many issues that affect human fairness and efficiency in development. This study explored gender roles and their implications in charcoal production and marketing in Makunka area of Kazungula district. The objectives were achieved through a qualitative study of the subject. A sample of 60 charcoal producers and marketers comprising 35 men and 25 women representing 58.3 percent and 41.7 percent respectively was selected using snowball sampling method. Semi structured interviews were administered to the charcoal producers and marketers. Key informant interviews were administered to 2 Forest Department officials. These interviewees were purposively selected as they were known to have knowledge on charcoal production and marketing. A focus group discussion was held with men and women to further investigate gender dynamics in charcoal production and marketing from a group setting. The data collected from charcoal producers and marketers was analyzed using thematic analysis. Results show that 63 percent of men (n=35) and 55 percent of the women (n=25) reported that men mostly transport charcoal while 49 percent of men and 57 percent of women respondents reported that charcoal marketing was mostly done by women. 45 percent of the men respondents and three quarters (75%) of women respondents indicated that men do not normally sell their charcoal at production sites. 40 percent and 67 percent of the men and women respondents respectively observed that women experience higher costs of charcoal production and marketing costs than men. The study concluded that the major gender roles in charcoal production and marketing were; cutting down trees which was done by both men and women, charcoal transportation done by men and charcoal selling done by women. Men also dominated in tree selection, cross cutting into sizable logs and transporting the charcoal to the market place whereas women were also involved in tree felling using fire, firing the kiln and monitoring the burning kiln. The high demand posted on the market for charcoal due to factors like load shedding and the inability of poor people to access alternative energy sources was recognized as an opportunity to raise income, coupled with low entry barriers in the charcoal value chain. The challenges in charcoal production and marketing were among others poor market structure, too much labor involved and health issues due to exposure to residue waste from the production processes. Some of the implications of gender roles in charcoal production and marketing were, use of unsuitable tree species, low income for women as they had to use hired labor and sell at production sites and more income for men due to greater market coverage and better-quality charcoal. This study recommends the formation of a charcoal producers and marketers association to promote specialization of men and women in the roles that they do in the charcoal value chain while involving the Forestry Department and other bodies to sensitize men and women on better practices as opposed to the use of conventional traditional methods which lead to forest degradation.
Gender roles--Zambia , Forest degradation--Zambia , Forests and forestry--Zambia. , Forest policy--Zambia. , Charcoal , Charcoal burning