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Gender and household-level responses to soil degradation in Honduras
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In Honduras, population growth, declining natural resources, and poor economic conditions, recently aggravated by the recent Hurricane Mitch, synthesize to produce significant social and economic pressures on gendered household labor responses to natural resource decline. The article investigates this phenomenon through an examination of whether changes in soil quality cause Honduran females and males to alter time devoted to maize production. Changes in gendered household labor divisions due to soil degradation are also assessed. The study revealed that men's time utilized in maize production is positively correlated with soil quality and negatively with soil erosion. Women's time devoted to maize production is shaped by household and reproductive responsibilities, as well as societal and cultural expectations. If males devote less time to agricultural production, conflict between women's reproductive and agricultural work and responsibilities frequently ensue. Declining ecological conditions lead to an increase in the amount of responsibilities women assume in maize production. More data is needed to form more concrete conclusions about how males and females time allocations change with declining soil conditions. This further information would be useful in forming policies to avoid additional resource degradation and prevent the placement of unrealistic and large burdens on women. Declining soil conditions also indicate that the area is not ideal for subsistence food production and that other areas should be examined for possible agricultural use. However, land use transition will occur over a long-term scale, and success of existing subsistence food production will rely on the abilities of both sexes to collaborate in order to balance agricultural and domestic responsibilities.