|Gender aspects of woodfuel flows in Sri Lanka (1999)|
|4. Gender aspects of the woodfuel flow process in rural areas|
Woodfuel for household consumption rarely comes through the commercial flow mechanisms as it is generally supplied by free gathering from household lands and outside sources. Of the total of 105 households, 22, or nearly 10 percent, purchase some fuelwood (see Table 11). No incidents of fuelwood purchases have been noted in Gomagoda, and only one incident each has been recorded in the 3 villages of Udagama, Narampanawa and Panwila. The highest number of purchases was recorded in Pitawala and Rajawella.
There are two primary sources of commercial fuelwood. These include a few excess producers in the respective villages and the sawmills. Of the total of 22 households, 16 purchase from saw mills, so wood-shavings are the available type. Men are engaged in piling and transporting wood shavings in hand carts. The flow mechanism is quite simple but is outside what is conventionally considered to be the women's domain. In about 6 cases where the supply is from local producers the situation is, unusually, dominated by women. Three types of produce are included, namely coconut branches, coconut husks and the branchwood of tree perennials. Women pile up the excess and sell the stocks to people in the neighbourhood. The mode of transport is headloading so women's engagement in buying from the local small-scale producers is notable. The average price paid for a kg of wood shavings is about 21-30 cents, while 0-20-0-25 cents is paid for a coconut husk and, 0.60 cents-1.00 rupee for a coconut branch.
This situation points to another gender specific feature associated with the mode of transport involved. When wood bundles and husks packed in gunny sacks are to be carried, headloading is the mode, and it is exclusively done by women, whereas when wood is purchased from saw mills in comparatively larger quantities, the task is exclusively performed by men. The primary mode of transportation is handcarts and no women reported that they were engaged in pulling them.