The Role Of Environmental Values And Attitudes Of Ghanaian Coastal Women In Natural Resource Management
Over the last decade or so, there has been an increasing need to acknowledge the role played by local resource users in environmental decision making and to incorporate their perceptions in the management of natural resources. This has led to the development of various methods of assessing environmental attitudes and of natural resource valuation. Most of these studies have been conducted in developed countries and have utilized economic methods of valuation. Over the last decade or so, there has been an increasing need to acknowledge the role played by local resource users in environmental decision making and to incorporate their perceptions in the management of natural resources. This has led to the development of various methods of assessing environmental attitudes and of natural resource valuation. Most of these studies have been conducted in developed countries and have utilized economic methods of valuation. This study highlights the environmental attitudes and values of a very important group of stakeholders – women – and the significance of taking these into consideration in the management of local coastal natural resources. Using respondents from two Ghanaian coastal communities, Bortianor and Moree, the study also investigated poverty-coastal natural resource linkages and how this knowledge can be used to improve Natural Resource Management in Ghana. In proposing specific policy options for managing the coastal environment an examination of formal, informal institutional and legal framework was also done. Primary data was collected by means of focus group discussions, personal interviews and participant observations. A total of 304 women (151 from Bortianor and 153 from Moree) took part in the study. The results showed that the study communities had poor access to basic amenities such as potable water, schools, health facilities as well as basic sanitation services. Their livelihood patterns revolve around the availability of coastal natural resources such as fish and fuel wood. The attitudinal scale used to assess environmental attitudes achieved adequate internal consistency with Cronbach’s (1951) Alpha reliability coefficients of 0.729 in Bortianor and 0.735 in Moree. The environmental attitudes of respondents were overwhelmingly positive; this however did not match the state of affairs in the area. The study showed that positive attitudes do not always result in pro-environmental behaviour. In the study areas poverty, low educational levels and other social and cultural practices could also influence the ability of respondents to translate the generally positive environmental attitudes into positive environmental action. The section on environmental values assessed the environmental values of respondents through the relative importance they placed on the different benefits derived from coastal natural resources. It also prioritised environmental issues or concerns in the study areas from the perspectives of the respondents. Rather than use a simple ordinal ranking of all objects, the paired comparison approach was used. The study showed that in both areas respondents placed the greatest importance on the coastal natural resources as sources of wealth creation and food. When it came to environmental concerns, it was not surprising that issues of safe drinking water, available fish and good sanitation were most important to respondents. From the results it was argued that since coastal natural resources as sources of food and income ranked highest, developing activities and policies that add value to the fishery industry, generate income and improve the standard of living of respondents would be most effective. Improving their standard of living could shift their focus from more utilitarian values to that of more pro-natural resource values. After examining existing institutional capacities and respondents’ perceptions of who should manage local coastal natural resources, the study concludes by using the findings to make some practical policy recommendations.