Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Research Student: Dr Henrietta Abane

Sustainable Rural Livelihoods and Women's Access to Resources in a Southern Ghanaian Forest Community.

Photo of Dr Henrietta Abane

This thesis examines the organization of livelihoods in a forest reserve fringe community in south western Ghana.

Livelihoods in these communities have been organized within three main contexts. These are community vulnerabilities of increasing population, decreasing soil fertility and poor infrastructural development; commoditisation of agriculture to incorporate cocoa and oil palm production for export and industry; and forest reservation and logging policies.

The above processes have dwindled the community's livelihood base most particularly farmland and non-timber forest products, changed the mode of production towards greater diversification of livelihood activities into non-farm income sources, transformed customary livelihood activities and their organization, community structures and institutions and promoted social differentiation and class formation.

Community livelihood activities and organization have transformed to incorporate elements of cooperation, mutual support and interdependence as well as exploitation, marginalization and conflict. Customary production relations that involved communal rights of tenure have changed to land sales, renting and share cropping.

This change had reduced the security of tenure and therefore the social protection offered by customary production relations. Although community laws and taboos, District Assembly rent and market toll policies, interpretation and enforcement of forestry regulations by forestry officials, state agricultural policies and bank regulations mediated livelihood activities and resource access, it was the micro-political production relations of exploitation that appeared to be more important in ensuring access to resources.

The social relations of production presented winners and losers in both categories of women and men. Women have had increased work burdens compared with their male counterparts as well as less access to resources, although amongst the group of women some have had more access than others. Cleavages have appeared within the community as a result of resentments and tensions and these have a capacity to disintegrate social structures.

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