Use of firewood in an indigenous community from the Sierra Norte de Puebla: a gender perspective on the access to natural resources


María E. Rosas-Mancilla


Gender, dendroenergy, household energy use.


Objective: To analyze several key elements in order to understand the rights of use, access, and ownership of natural resources, based on the social roles assigned to each gender in the community of Reyeshogpan, Puebla, Mexico.

Design/Methodology/Approach: A participant observation methodology was used, complemented by the application of 24 semi-structured interviews in local households.

Results: The surface ranges of the plots are 0.25 ± 3.0 ha. Out of all the interviewees, 40.79% own less than 0.5 ha, which is not enough to cover their annual energy needs (10,752 m3 per household). Therefore, they rent and loan their land, as well as purchase of firewood. Regarding the access to land category, 82.14% is owned by men and 17.86% by women. However, this percentage of female holders does not imply that they can exercise their rights as owners, because the land is generally administered by men. This situation confirms that the access to land influences the availability of firewood and its energy use.

Study Limitations/Implications: The information provided by the interviewees was the basis for the analysis of the use and amount of firewood used by households; however, the interviewees may have underestimated or overestimated the amounts.

Findings/Conclusions: In the Reyeshogpan community, the gathering of firewood is carried out according to gender, based on the physical differences between men and women. Tasks specifically assigned to men are related to their physical strength, while the tasks performed by women are considered complementary and are not given any economic value.

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