Options for Action: Generation, Access and Application of AKST | 109

issues of natural resource management can ensure that the role of women is determined explicitly—for example, questions can identify the roles of men and women in different activities and in decision making with respect to agriculture and resource management at the household and village levels.
Involving women in enumeration may, in some cultures, make it easier to document fully women’s activities with respect to natural resource management. The findings from such studies can be incorporated into university curricula. In particular, agricultural sciences, agricultural economics, and agriculture-oriented sociology courses could include specific modules that address the role and contribution of women with respect to natural resource management and knowledge.

 Gender-specific roles and the current status quo in many African countries can hinder the process of mainstreaming women into the above activities. The likelihood of successful mainstreaming can be increased with commitment from government and universities, combined with monitoring and assessing over time the numbers of women applying and being accepted for positions.

Options for mainstreaming women in AKST development include efforts to encourage women to study agricultural science, natural resource management, and forestry at school and university and to include the role of women in agriculture in studies both at primary and university level. Although the costs and returns to these strategies have not been assessed, there is a general consensus that better mainstreaming of women throughout education, training and extension is likely to improve the relevance of AKST to women and therefore have a positive impact on the assessment goals.

5.5 Sustainable Use of Land and Water Resources
Africa faces a number of specific challenges with respect to the sustainable use of its natural resource base. These include the increasing degradation of natural resources due to inappropriate resource use, increased competition for resources, climate change, and the loss of agricultural biodiversity including animal genetic diversity. These challenges are exacerbated by the low commitment to integrating environmental concerns into AKST-related strategies; the low capacity for the development of AKST to address natural resource issues; and the low support for women in the management of natural resources.

Addressing the enhancement and sustainability of the natural environment through AKST is particularly challenging in SSA. The emphasis for agriculture in the region has been to increase crop production and reduce malnutrition through arable land expansion and increased cropping intensity. This pressure to increase output will continue over the next 50 years given the continuing chronic malnutrition and low incomes within the region. Most of the increased food production in SSA has been in expansion of agricultural land area thereby putting pressure on marginal land and the non-farm natural resource base outside of the farm (FAO, 1996). These pressures will be reduced if agricultural productivity increases on existing arable land. However, increasing cropping intensity will put more pressure on onfarm natural resources, particularly soils.


        Complex biological interactions exist between different resources such as soils and water, suggesting that integrated solutions are required. NRM practices are typically more knowledge intensive than agricultural production technologies, which often embody the technology in inputs such as seeds or chemicals (Barrett et al., 2002). Local and traditional knowledge about the environment is embedded in languages that are typically not formally used in extension (except ad hoc in the field) or in research, except to mine information. This hinders the ability to leverage local knowledge and link it with exogenous AKST.

Problems associated with missing markets (externalities) and common pool resources are common. The actions of an individual farmer with respect to the resources on her farm, for example, may have a negative impact (externality) on resources outside of her farm that she does not take into account in making decisions. Individual farmers’ incentives therefore may not align with sustainable farming activities at the community level and so incentives and institutions are required to ensure the resource base is managed sustainably.

 If farmers do not see direct benefits to themselves from natural resource management activities, they have little incentive to adopt the technologies (Dejene, 2003). When environmental degradation is gradual it may not be noticeable for several years or more (though soil erosion can occur in less than an hour). Solutions may have high upfront costs but take time to have an impact and so may not be compatible with resource-poor farmers with high discount rates.

Private enterprises may not have a “long-term interest in creating the type of long-term, strategic, public goods research products that are required to ensure a continuous stream of benefits from natural resources to society at large” (Ashby, 2001) and little interest in issues such as water conservation (Scoones, 2005). Whereas the private sector lacks incentives, the public sector lacks capacity (Scoones, 2005), suggesting potential for private-public partnerships. Finally, the natural biological and institutional linkages among resources and resource users are often in contrast to the lack of appropriate organizational linkages among different government ministries and research organizations that would improve the likelihood of environmental degradation being tackled effectively. Particularly in SSA, providing technical solutions to environmental degradation is therefore far from sufficient.

5.5.1 Land: Limiting conditions and available alternatives
Land degradation, and poor soil fertility in particular, is widely accepted as the most critical factor in limiting agricultural production in SSA (Stoorvogel and Smaling, 1990; Smaling et al., 1997; Hilhorst and Muchena, 2000; Baijukya, 2004). The natural resource base in SSA is in many areas highly degraded, due in part to increased competition for resources, inappropriate pricing of those resources, and—increasingly—climate change. There are numerous estimates of the costs of this degradation—irrigated lands 7% below their potential productivity, rain-fed crop lands 14% below, and rangelands 45% below (Donovan and Casey, 1998), resulting in, for example, an estimated cumulative