Notes to broadcasters
Deforestation and the resulting fuelwood shortage affects the lives of millions of people. People suffer in a variety of ways, some of which are not always visible. Women and children in particular spend hours of their life in search of fuel, often walking many kilometres each day.
This script illustrates some of the effects of deforestation on the health of women and their families.
A follow-up radio broadcast could include interviews with local women about the effect of environmental degradation on their lives. How does their situation today differ from earlier times? How do these changes relate to their daily lives – the way they farm, eat, and spend their time?
When forests are cut down, when rivers and streams dry up or get polluted, and when soil is so poor that nothing will grow, women suffer.
Damage to the environment means there may be less firewood, water and food. Women have to work harder and travel further to find firewood and water they need. This affects the health of a woman and her family.
Firewood is one of the most important things needed by a woman to keep her household going. What happens in a woman’s life when trees are cut down and firewood is hard to find? Let’s find out from some women farmers. Our friend Mina is the first guest today. Here is her story.
If my feet are really sore or I am too busy, I send my children to get wood. They get up early and go before school. I can see that on these days they have less energy and more problems with their school work.
These are some of the problems that I live with every day.
Unfortunately, because firewood is scarce I cook fewer hot meals. Before the firewood shortage, I prepared two hot meals every day. Now, I cook only one. Sometimes we must eat cold food.
With fewer hot meals I see and feel a difference. My family is less healthy. We are missing important nutrients. My children have less energy and get sick more often. It is sad – but what choice do we have?
I have to take a mule and walk for hours to find firewood. When there is not enough firewood my family suffers.
For many years I thought there was nothing that I could do. But one day I thought to myself, “Is there any reason why I can’t plant more trees in my garden, even though it is small?” I decided that there was no reason not to. I planted a row of trees around my garden – like a fence.
I planted fruit trees and fast-growing trees. I learned that trees in the garden do not interfere with my vegetables. I started planting trees four years ago. I now have fruit trees that provide tamarind, coconut, and mango. These foods give my children extra nutrients. I use the tree branches for firewood. I use leaves for livestock feed. I prune the trees and care for them in such a way that I get the most food, leaves and branches possible.
How are you managing?
Here are some ideas to help you save firewood.
- Burn dry wood only. It burns hotter.
- Cover the cooking pot – your food will cook faster.
- Never leave a fire burning unattended without something cooking over it.
- Prepare everything you need ahead of time so that the heat of the fire is never wasted.
- Cook one large meal and divide it into two parts – one for the evening and one for breakfast the next day.
- Plant multi-purpose trees or shrubs in your garden or wherever there is land available.
Contributed by: Belinda Bruce, DCFRN.
Reviewed by: Helen Hambly, Associate Officer, International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), The Hague, The Netherlands.
- Development, crises, and alternative visions: Third World Women’s Perspectives, Gita Sen and Caren Grown, 1987, 116 pages. Monthly Review Press, New York, New York, U.S.A.
- Restoring the balance: women and forest resources, Robin Clarke, 32 pages. Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, and the Swedish International Development Authority, Stockholm, Sweden.
- “Women’s work: Africa’s precious resource,” African Farmer, No. 7, September 1992, pages 17-27. The Hunger Project, New York, New York, U.S.A.
- ILEIA Newsletter (1/92) Volume 8 March 1992, pages 4-10. Information Centre for Low-External-Input and Sustainable Agriculture, Leusden, Netherlands.
- Forests, Trees, and People Programme (FTTP)
c/o Forest Action Network
P.O. Box 21428
- Regional Direction
P.O. Box 42994
- Kenya Energy and Environment Organizations
P.O. Box 48197, Nairobi
Mwanzi Road, Westlands
- Forests, Trees, and People Programme
c/o Regional Community Forestry Training Center
P.O. Box 1111
Bangkok 10903, Thailand
CARIBBEAN AND NORTH AMERICA
- Forests, Trees, and People Programme/NACARCE
c/o North America & Caribbean Regional Center
5400 Grosvenor Lane
Bethesda, Maryland 20814, U.S.A.
- Forests, Trees, and People Programme (FTTP)
c/o The Senior Community Forestry Officer
Forestry Policy and Planning division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
Rome 00100, Italy