Cameroon has committed to restore 12 million ha of degraded lands across its different agroecological zones as part of the AFR100 Initiative under the Bonn Challenge. Rural women are key actors to meeting this objective because of the important role they play in agriculture, food security and land management and related land and tree tenure issues. Nevertheless, overall power imbalances often limit rural women’s participation in and benefits from land restoration. Other factors limiting women and minority groups’ participation in land restoration include sociocultural-rooted norms; unfavourable formal and informal polices related to access to and ownership of land and trees, limited access to markets and gender inequity in reaping the benefits from trees and tree products. Yet, studies show that appropriate technical and material support to rural women’s associations through their linkages to more established NGOs, can incentivize their participation.
It’s against this background that a consortium composed of CAFER (Centre d’Appui aux Femmes et Ruraux), ICRAF (World Agroforestry) and ABIOGeT (Action pour la Biodiversité et Gestion des Terroirs) is implementing an action-research project, titled « Land restoration for post-Covid rural and indigenous women empowerment and poverty reduction in Cameroon» and funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The general objective of the project is to inform policy and business practice that foster women and minority groups’ participation in, and benefits from land restoration initiatives.
Description of the research themes
The project is looking for motivated MSc students who will contribute to quality research, can work independently, as well as in a multidisciplinary team, and conduct action-research on issues related to the participation of women and indigenous people in land restoration initiatives. Research sites include Centre (Ngambe-Tikar), West (Mount Bamboutos) and North (Ngong & Lagdo) Regions of Cameroon.
Theme 1: Policy and institutional framework for land restoration in Cameroon: a gender analysis The policy and formal institutional environment have often been mentioned as having opportunities and constraints to women and minority group participation in land restoration activities. Yet not much is known about them. The objective of this research is to assess gender equality identifying inclusion, strengths, and weaknesses of gender across sectors governing land restoration in Cameroon to ascertain the extent to which relevant sector policies are gender responsive. The study will go beyond context analysis to provide empirical evidence of any gender related statistics on access to resources, entrepreneurship and decision making to demonstrate level of commitment to gender
Theme 2: Socio-cultural barriers affecting access to land for land restoration by women and minority groups in Cameroon
Access to land has been identified as a major obstacle for participation in land restoration overall. However, women and minority groups face specific challenges as who can access which type of land, for how long and under which conditions is regulated by complex social and cultural norms, often context specific. The research will examine these social and cultural norms in addition to formal laws and regulations and to what extent they affect effective participation of women and minority groups in land restoration initiatives.
Theme 3: Participation of women and minority groups in land restoration: role of leadership and inclusive decision-making
Land restoration projects most often work with communities and user groups to implement land restoration options. The success of such projects greatly depends on the extent to which different land user groups, including women and minority groups, participate in the project activities. The research will examine how and to what extent different modes of leadership and mechanisms of decision-making affect the participation of women and minority groups in land restoration initiatives.
Theme 4: Contribution of different farming practices to land degradation and land restoration from a gender perspective
Inappropriate farming practices lead to land degradation, whereas others, such as soil and water conservation techniques, agroforestry and agroecology can be used to maintain soil fertility and even restore degraded land. The research will study how and to what extent different farming practices contribute to land degradation or land restoration in the different project sites. This will be done from a gender perspective by assessing perceptions of women and minority groups on drivers of land degradation and land restoration options.
We are looking for candidates with the following qualifications:
- Last year students MSc/Ing in Gender Studies, Social Sciences, Geography, agronomy , Socio-economics and Rural Development or any other relevant discipline from a recognised university in Cameroon;
- Past experience in working on gender and/or empowerment of women and indigenous people;
- Excellent oral and written communication skills in English or in French, and with good working knowledge of the other language; knowledge of one of the local languages in the research sites will be an asset;
- Excellent knowledge of methodology of applied research; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; rigour and scientific quality as demonstrated by previous research;
- Mastery of participatory research methods and field work (Focus group discussions, interviews, questionnaires…);
- Genuine interest in natural resource management and sustainable development;
- Practical computer knowledge (Windows, Linux or Mac Package, statistical software, …)
Offer: The project “Land restoration for post-Covid rural and indigenous women empowerment and poverty reduction in Cameroon » will cover all expenses related to data collection in the field, local transport, medical insurance, and subsistence allowance for a duration of 6 months.
Duty station: The selected MSc student will be based in Yaounde, Cameroon with extensive and prolonged travel to project sites.
Supervision: The selected candidates will be supervised by ICRAF scientists involved in the project, in collaboration with the academic supervisor.
Application procedure: Vacancies must be sent electronically to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org as a single PDF document named ‘MSc application IDRC_NAME’, including :
- Motivation letter
- A research proposal in which the candidate explains in his/her own words the research theme and proposes a research methodology (max 2 pages)
Please indicate in the subject line or your mail: MSc application IDRC Theme X [NAME]
Application deadline: 15 December 2022. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.