- Gendered livelihood impacts and responses to an invasive, transboundary weed in a rural Ethiopian communityChristie, Maria Elisa; Sumner, Daniel M.; Chala, Lidya A.; Mersie, Wondi (Taylor & Francis, 2023-12-18)Gender as unequal power relations intersects with global environmental change threatening agriculture-based livelihoods, including land degradation, increasing climate variability, and invasive alien plants. Commonly overlooked, invasive alien plants may have gendered impacts on everyday life that disproportionately affect the less powerful. Drawing on experiences of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia’s Oromia region with an invasive, transboundary weed, Parthenium hysterophorus L., this paper illustrates how environmental change interacts with pre-existing vulnerabilities to shape individual and household-level impacts and responses. We applied a feminist perspective in livelihoods and environmental change research and praxis to explore the intersection of gendered livelihoods and parthenium management in spaces of everyday life. While invasive plants, including parthenium, may be easily perceptible in the field, understanding impacts on livelihoods requires consideration of women’s and men’s roles and responsibilities within the broader household compound as well as intra-household decision-making. Parthenium can be harmful to environmental, animal, and human health, but unduly impacts women’s labor, spaces, and assets, including cows whose milk may be tainted by grazing in parthenium-infested fields. We demonstrate the importance of considering women’s social networks and so-called reproductive space and labor to understand gendered and place-based inequities of climate change. This study reveals intimate connections between environmental stressors and gendered livelihoods. Our findings demonstrate how inequalities can be reinforced by new forms of vulnerability, with response options socially differentiated. We argue that a feminist livelihood lens helps bridge the global scale of environmental change with local scales of gendered livelihood adaptation embedded within broader socio-environmental change.
- The Impact of Blockchain Technology on Food Insecurity through African Indigenous Vegetables in Western Kenya: Final ReportAgnew, Jessica L.; Hall, Ralph P.; Mwangi, Joseph; Sumner, Daniel M.; Kristofikova, Nurvitria (USAID LASER PULSE, 2022-05-16)This study is one of the first to explore how blockchain technology (BCT) could be used to improve food security in communities that are reliant on agriculture but are the last to receive services or access to markets, known as the ‘last-mile’. The goal was to determine how BCT could contribute to improving the income of African indigenous vegetable (AIV) value chain actors (e.g., producers, traders, and retailers) and to the affordability, availability, and accessibility of nutritious foods like AIVs for consumers. It finds that BCT can simultaneously strengthen the functionality of an entire agri-food value chain by increasing the efficiency of transactions among value chain actors, improving cooperation along the value chain, and enhancing access to information. A decrease in post-harvest loss, reduction in negotiation and search costs, and traceability of Grade A vegetables were facilitated by the blockchain functionality of the AgUnity V3 SuperApp. Producer income was improved by better meeting market demand, time savings on AIV activities, increasing the supply of Grade A vegetables, and making information on the vegetables more available to consumers. Increased incomes led to improved food security among producers by facilitating their ability to procure more food, especially higher quality proteins and fruits. Participants and consumers reported an increase in the consumption of AIVs over the study period because of increased quality, availability, and awareness of their nutritional importance.
- Mobile phones and women's empowerment in Maasai communities: How men shape women's social relations and access to phonesSummers, Kelly H.; Baird, Timothy D.; Woodhouse, Emily; Christie, Maria Elisa; McCabe, J. Terrence; Terta, Felista; Peter, Naomi (Elsevier, 2020-05-13)Mobile phones have been heralded by many as promising new tools to empower women throughout the Global South. However, some have asserted that new information and communication technologies (ICTs) may serve to amplify disparities between more powerful and less powerful people. Few studies have examined which women stand to benefit and under what conditions. This study seeks to better understand the relationships between mobile phones and women’s empowerment by examining diverse women’s experiences within Maasai agro-pastoralist communities in northern Tanzania. Specifically, we ask three guiding questions: (1) How do Maasai women access and use phones? (2) What processes of empowerment do phones support or undermine? and (3) How are these processes embedded in diverse social relations? To address these questions, we use a framework that integrates a Social Relations Approach with a modified version of the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach. Our team conducted semi-structured and individual-stakeholder interviews with Maasai women in June-July, 2018 to learn their perspectives on phones, social-relations and multiple aspects of empowerment. We analyzed the content of these interviews using deductive and inductive qualitative strategies. These efforts yield multiple findings: (1) women’s access to phones is fluid; (2) multiple pathways to empowerment and disempowerment exist; (3) phones reinforce inequalities; (4) women’s identities are intersectional; and (5) women’s networks remain homogenous. Taken together, this approach and these insights provide a more conservative account of the benefits of mobile phones than many studies and also an important technology-empowerment narrative for development scholars and practitioners.
- Challenges and experiences of women in the forestry sector in NepalChristie, Maria Elisa; Giri, Kalpana (Academic Journals, 2011-05)This article asks why there are relatively few women at the Institute of Forestry (IOF) and in the field of forestry in Nepal. It explores the obstacles to entering and succeeding in this male-dominated field from women’s perspectives, and makes recommendations for increasing their participation. Based on “focus group discussions” and interviews with nearly 50 women, the authors considered issues of power and participation relevant to the gendered experience and profession of forestry in Nepal. Obstacles ranged from socio-cultural biases against women, to harassment during field trips, to being assigned purely administrative duties in the workplace. The article draws on theoretical approaches to gender in organizations, masculinities, and gendered knowledge. It calls for equitable, institutional transformation at the IOF that would in turn help graduates to better address social aspects of forestry.
- Cycad Aulacaspis Scale, a Newly Introduced Insect Pest in IndonesiaMuniappan, Rangaswamy (Muni); Watson, Gillian W.; Evans, Gregory Allyn; Rauf, Aunu; Von Ellenrieder, Natalia (Department of Biology, Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia, 2012-09)Cycad aulacaspis scale (Aulacaspis yasumatsui Takagi (Hemiptera: Diaspididae)) is native to Thailand and Vietnam. Since the early 1990s it has been spreading around the world due to the trade in cycad plants for ornamental use. Infestation by this scale can kill cycads in only a few months. Its accidental introduction to Florida endangered the ornamental cycad-growing industry; and in Guam and Taiwan, endemic cycads (Cycas micronesica and C. taitungensis, respectively) are currently threatened with extinction by cycad aulacaspis scale. In November 2011, an introduced scale was discovered damaging cycads in the Bogor Botanic Garden. Samples from Bogor were taken for identification of the scale, and the material was kept for some time to rear out any insect parasitoids that were present. Both the scale insects and parasitoids were prepared on microscope slides and studied microscopically for authoritative identification. The scale was confirmed as A. yasumatsui. The parasitoid Arrhenophagus chionaspidis Aurivillius (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) and the hyperparasitoid Signiphora bifasciata Ashmead (Hymenoptera: Signiphoridae) were identified from the samples. Unless immediate remedial measures are taken, several endemic species of cycad in Indonesia may be endangered by infestation by cycad aulacaspis scale.
- Perceptions and Practices: A Survey of Professional Engineers and ArchitectsCunningham, Don; Stewart, Jill (Hindawi, 2012-03-28)This descriptive cross-sectional research study examines perceptions of time spent by architects and professional engineers on reading, writing, and evaluating various information products, as well as their perspectives of specific quality characteristics and the relative significance in meeting work goals. Professional engineers and architects were surveyed at seminars held at eight locations in seven states. Descriptive statistics were then used to investigate perceptions and relationships. Findings indicate architects and professional engineers spend the most amount of time reading correspondence and the least amount of time reading management reports. Respondents considered correspondence to be the most important reading activity. Participants also spend the most amount of time writing correspondence, closely followed by nearly equal time spent writing and editing technical reports and proposals. Finally, participants rated organization, comprehensiveness, and accuracy as the most important aspects while indicating mechanical issues such as grammar and spelling as the least important aspects of technical documents.
- Management trade-off between aboveground carbon storage and understory plant species richness in temperate forestsBurton, Julia; Ares, Adrian; Olson, Deanna; Puettmann, Klaus (Ecological Society of America, 2013-09)Because forest ecosystems have the capacity to store large quantities of carbon (C), there is interest in managing forests to mitigate elevated CO2 concentrations and associated effects on the global climate. However, some mitigation techniques may contrast with management strategies for other goals, such as maintaining and restoring biodiversity. Forest thinning reduces C storage in the overstory and recruitment of detrital C. These C stores can affect environmental conditions and resource availability in the understory, driving patterns in the distribution of early and late-seral species. We examined the effects of replicated (N = 7) thinning experiments on aboveground C and understory vascular plant species richness, and we contrasted relationships between aboveground C and early- vs. late-seral species richness. Finally, we used structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine relationships among early- and late-seral species richness and live and detrital aboveground C stores. Six years following thinning, aboveground C was greater in the high-density treatment and untreated control than in moderate- (MD) and variable-density (VD) treatments as a result of reductions in live overstory C. In contrast, all thinning treatments increased species richness relative to controls. Between the growing seasons of years 6 and 11 following treatments, the live overstory C increment tended to increase with residual density, while richness decreased in MD and VD treatments. The richness of early-seral species was negatively related to aboveground C in MD and VD, while late-seral species richness was positively (albeit weakly) related to aboveground C. Structural equation modeling analysis revealed strong negative effects of live overstory C on early-seral species richness balanced against weaker positive effects on late-seral species richness, as well as positive effects of detrital C stocks. A trade-off between carbon and plant species richness thus emerges as a net result of these relationships among species traits, thinning treatments, and live and detrital C storage. Integrating C storage with traditional conservation objectives may require managing this trade-off within stands and landscapes (e.g., maintain early-seral habitat and species within dense, C-rich forests and, conversely, live and detrital C stores in early-seral habitats) or separating these goals across scales and species groupings.