Gender is a cross-cutting issue that is incorporated into all aspects of the project. The participatory approach used by the project team helps create a supportive environment and aims to equally include both men and women in project activities.

Improving equality and equity

In Ethiopia, women carry most of the burden of collecting firewood and gathering and drying cow dung for fuel. In the Gumara-Maksegnit watershed, depending on the size of their families, women on average walk about five hours twice a week or more to collect firewood. This means women have less time for farming, growing vegetables, and other productive activities. Additionally, women are responsible for cooking meals over open flames or on smoky cook stoves, exposing them daily to hours of harmful smoke inhalation.

The project is promoting the fuel-efficient “mirt stove” (“best stove”), a closed combustion stove developed and tested by the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy. The stoves have a fuel efficiency of about 23-24% and could halve households’ demand for firewood. Because the stoves emit less smoke than traditional cook stoves women and children will be less affected by lung diseases. Various governmental and non-governmental institutions are promoting these fuel-efficient stoves nationally and they have been well received by local communities. “Stove-for-work” programs will encourage communities to join in natural resource management activities.

The fuel-efficient stoves can be made with locally available cement, sand, and water. They are relatively cheap to make at 150 ETB (about 8 USD). The initiative will offer women, especially landless women, an opportunity to generate income from building and selling the stoves. The project is collaborating with identified partners and providing training to women on building mirt stoves.

Mobile tree nurseries are another women-friendly technology the project is embracing. The trays are easy to move from place to place and can be placed near homesteads. Women can raise tree seedlings for reforestation, and sell saplings to bring in extra income.

Mobile tree nursery in the Gumara-Maksegnit watershed
Mobile tree nursery in the Gumara-Maksegnit watershed