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A panel discussion on Women and Desertification met during the afternoon. Presentations were made on women and access to credit, women, land tenure and ownership, and pilot projects to inform rural women about CCD and assist them to prepare their input to national action programmes.

The Environment Liaison Centre International representative, Cecilia Kinuthia- Njenga, gave an overview of the gender aspects provided in the CCD and highlighted some fundamental gender issues. Gaudensia Kenyange, from Uganda’s Commercial Bank, highlighted the constraints for women to obtain credit that should be addressed in implementing the CCD.

A representative from AFAD (Mali) elaborated on the issue of credit systems based on her experience, and stressed the need for training that is geared to the recurrent income-generating activities undertaken by women. Venkat Ramnayya of Youth for Action (India) spoke about women and land degradation and stressed their lack of involvement in agricultural decision-making. Successful networking has empowered local populations.

Allyce Kureiya from the Marsabit Development Programme (Kenya) made recommendations on how to include women in desertification control including: starting income generating activities; using focus groups; educating about environmental management; encouraging energy conservation; and supporting girls’ education. Ricard Minougou of Association pour la Protection de la Nature (Burkina Faso) spoke about the organization’s pilot project on women and desertification. Simplified versions of the Convention were produced and 90 women learned to make soap as a part of income producing activities.

Belinda Bruce (Canada) stated that the Farm Radio Network uses radios to exchange information regarding techniques aimed at increasing food supplies and improving health and nutrition at the grassroots levels. Elizabeth Chiedza Gwaunza discussed the Zimbabwean case of land tenure, where women often have insecure access to land. If women are guaranteed access to land they will have more motivation to resist and respond to environmental degradation. Research such as gender studies on land are needed, and the notions of gender and access should be challenged.

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