Socio-cultural factors affecting women’s participation in watershed resources management in Chahi catchment, South-Western Uganda
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This study investigated the socio-cultural factors affecting women participation in management of watershed resources in Chahi Sub- catchment, Kisoro district, Uganda, delving into how best to take advantage of such factors and how to minimize any associated negative impacts on women’s role in watershed resources management. The study problem was that women’s knowledge and role in watershed management is largely unrecognized and at catchment level, it is affected by socio-cultural factors. Specific objectives of the study were to: (a) assess the effects of socio-cultural factors on women participation in the management of watershed resources in Chahi sub- catchment, (b) determine the extent of women participation in decision making and management of watershed resources and (c) establish the link between national policies, culture and grassroot integration of women in watershed resources management. The study was justified by the fact that women play an iconic role in watershed management but are more vulnerable than men to the impacts of environmental degradation. Questionnaires, key informants interviews, in-depth interviews, observation of on-farm activities and secondary data were employed during data collection. A survey consisting of interviews with 90 respondents was carried out in the study area by conducting a stratified random sampling on the 716 members of the18 women groups with the help of Glenn formula as proposed by Yemane 1967. In addition a guided interview was conducted on different stakeholders. Data analysis was by descriptive statistics like percentages, frequencies and means to get respondents’ different opinions about whether socio-cultural factors affect women’s participation, decision making and the link between national policies and women integration in watershed management. Gender analysis tool 3 was employed to establish property ownership by respective gender. Mann Whitney test was used to test the hypothesis that: There is no significant relationship between gender opinions on effect of the socio-cultural factors and women participation in water and soil resources management. Chi-square and cross tabulation were employed to test the relationship between gender type and watershed management practices and effect of socio-cultural factors on decision making respectively. The socio-cultural factors that ranked high in affecting women’s participation in water and soil resources management are; migration of men (52.2%), property ownership (44.4%), reproductive role of women (38.8%). To a greater extent, socio-cultural positively affect women’s participation in water and soil resources management in Chahi Sub catchment. Results revealed that women are very reliable as far as land and soil fertility management is concerned despite the limitations to land ownership. Women engage in making decisions for mulching, rainwater harvesting and organic manure application, and also engage in communal decision making during catchment management committee meetings. The study found out that women are integrated by government through decentralization policy. Apart from government, other institutions like NGOs, CBOs, and IP contributed greatly in integrating women in water and soil resources management. The results implied that planners at lower, local and central governments will make use of women’s productive role and natural closeness to environment to draw them on board and integrate them in all forms of watershed resources management. The study appreciated women participation in water and soil management in Chahi among other conclusions despite presence of socio-cultural factors like property ownership, property inheritance and migration of men. It recommends that gender responsive tenure systems be promoted in the catchment as it was found to be immobilizing the full participation of women in watershed resources management.