Lessons learned: Gender Access to Lowland Resources in Mali
Traditional and resource usage rules are still valid, in the respect of differences and the application of pre-emption rights. In regulated lowlands, management and usage rules are administered by a management committee and through written specifications. The problems emerging in developed inland valleys are a fiercer competition for access, conflicts, and the exclusion of some categories of users.
The access for all gender categories to lowland resources is usually recognized, albeit differentiated. In the case of non regulated lowlands, the approach is traditional and customary. It facilitates – but does not secure – access to resources to women. As for regulated inland valleys, rules are not always abided by: there is a tendency to exclude women if the economic weight of their activity is significant. Women need to develop a series of strategies to gain access to lowland resources.
Regulation enables a balanced gender development only if accompanied by support measures on user organization, conflict management, access to water and land resources, and valorization of traditional and customary structures.
For communities, water is an opportunity factor for development. As an illustration, the Basso community has been able to negotiate the building of a road stretch that connects their village to a national route in exchange of exploitation rights of the water resource of their creek.
The availability of the water resource is a factor that promotes the development of women’s organizations and their activities, and allows the creation of substantial incomes that help women to satisfy needs within their families and their communities.
Profound change will happen not through planning and regulation but through knowledge and the willingness to adequately value and properly manage the resources. In this area, women tend to be more innovative.