The Livelihood of the Forest Dependent Populations: A Case Study of the Women Fuelwood Carriers in Woreda 1 of the Gulele Subcity in Northern Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa University


The present study is aimed at assessing the living conditions and the socioeconomic situation of Women Fuelwood Carriers and their interaction with the forest resources, and the effect on the forest as well, due to filelwood harvesting, as a result of the great demand for energy supply. The cumulative effect of the illegal activity carried out by the WFCs on the reserved fo rest, as the major or sole means of their livelihood, has filrther repercussions. It contributes to increase depletion of the plantations, destroys the sustainable supply of filelwood and ultimately puts at stake, not only the very survival of WFCs themselves, but also the household energy needs of end-users at large. Without education or training, or other way of supporting themselves and their families, these women subsist on filelwood carrying and trading, as their primary source of income, at a considerable cost both to their own health and personal safety, and to the sound management of the forest resources. The general objective of the research is to assess the livelihood conditions of the women filelwood carriers in northern Addis Ababa as well as their activities within the forest, in order to determine ways and means to make it sustainable and environmentally friendly. To do so, the researcher had to employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods to gather the necessmy data for conducting the study. Th ese included descriptive surveys using structured questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and FGDs with informants by employing interview guidelines and/or checklists, observations and documentary analyses to generate pertinent primmy and secondary data from primary and secondary sources, with a view to ensuring the quality of data. To this end, a total of 92 sample respondents were selected out of 2000 target population, using systematic sampling techniques. This study found out that the socio-demographic and economic characteristics of the surveyed population depict exactly the state of poverty these WFCs are living in. They are essentially young adults and married migrants from different parts of the country and they are illiterate; having no significant assets to make a positive impact in their lives, although some of them claim to have assets of some sort back home. Their perception about the forests and its importance is, therefore, limited. Living in groups in tiny housing units and filthy environment, without any meaningfiil alternative income-generating activities, these Orthodox people, by religion, take all risks to gain a loft of bread out of the forests. The existing forests protection enforcement mechanisms and policies are inefficient to keep then at bay and inadequate to ensure good forest conservation practices in the study area. This is very often due to inadequate number of personnel to patrol the forest, lack of smooth communication, lack of clear guidelines and of coordination among the Government local authorities responsible for making it happen. Consequently, awareness creation is needed at all levels on the importance of a sound forest conservation system; and provision should be made of an adequate number of forest security guards in the study area with encouraging incentives in order to guaranty an effective forest protection. Local authorities and relevant stakeholders should commit themselves not only to provide WFCs with access to schools to acquire new life skills and alternative generating income, but also with decent housing units to allow them fit in the society in dignifying manner. Given the fact that effective management of forests is of paramount importance, there is a need for all parties concerned to pursue collective participatolY forest management initiatives in such a way as to safeguard the interest of all, the environment and, particularly of the poor, who are the most reliant on the continued access to resources for filelwood supplies.



Livelihood of the Forest, Dependent Populations