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Nigeria: Using Gender Mainstreaming Processes to Help Protect Drinking Water Sources of the Obudu Plateau Communities in Northern Cross River State

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How can gender-sensitive approaches to natural resource management be implemented, particularly in contexts were women do not traditionally participate in such activities? In Nigeria, the construction of a tourist resort on the Obudu plateau led to deforestation and exacerbated pre-existing pressures on water resources and the environment. Local Becheve women spoke out about extra time taken in water collection, poor quality and quantity of water and consequently poor family health. In response, in 1999 the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) started a Watershed Management Project and encouraged women to get involved in the project's decision-making process. Women leaders were elected on the management committee, and became involved in the construction and maintenance of a water reservoir. Time spent collecting water was considerably reduced and women were able to spend more time on income generating activities instead. A conflict between the Becheve women and the Fulani men over access to water was resolved through negotiation, and the women were ensured timely access to water. Moreover the women's healthcare burden was reduced, with a 45% reduction in cases of diarrhoea in 2004.

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