Women farmers clearing farmland in Northern Bangladesh. Credit:
By Marty Logan
KATHMANDU, Dec 16 2019 (IPS)
Women in Asia and Africa hardest hit by climate
change have a tough time adapting to the climate emergency,
even with support from family or the state, finds a new study. The
results raise questions for global agreements designed to help
people adapt to the climate
emergency, it adds.
The findings are based on 25 case studies in three
agro-ecological regions on the two continents: 14 in semi-arid
locales, 6 in mountains and glacier-fed river basins (including one
in Nepal) and 5 in deltas. The main livelihoods in these natural
resource-dependent areas include agriculture, livestock rearing and
fishing, supplemented by wage labour, petty trade and
income from remittances.
Environmental risks include droughts,
floods, rainfall variability, land erosion and landslides, glacial
lake outburst floods, heat
waves and cyclones, all of which negatively affect livelihoods.
The study, A Qualitative Comparative Analysis of Women’s Agency
and Adaptive Capacity in Climate Change Hotspots in Asia and Africa
was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
When households take steps to adapt to the impact of climate
change, the result is that the strategies ‘place increasing
responsibilities and burdens on women, especially those who are
young, less educated and belonging to lower classes or marginal
castes and ethnicities’
It found that when households take steps to
adapt to the impact of climate change, the result is that the
strategies ‘place increasing responsibilities and burdens on
women, especially those who are young, less educated and belonging
to lower classes or marginal castes and ethnicities’. This
occurred even in cases where support appeared to be available in
the form of families/communities or via the state.
Examples include when men migrate to find work because of
climate change-induced impacts at home. While the money they earn
can boost family incomes, when men are away women
must shoulder a larger burden. As a result, most women
‘reported reduced leisure time, with negative consequences on
their wellbeing, including the health and nutrition of themselves
and their households,’ says the report.
In other cases, governments stepped in with support but during
floods or droughts, for example, men dominated state-provided aid
and relief facilities, making women rely on their male relatives to
‘In a sense, women do have voice and agency, yet this is not
contributing to strengthening longer-term adaptive capacities,’
concludes the report.
But in three examples in the study, one in Nepal, women did
adapt to the increased burdens delivered by climate change. In
Chharghare of Nuwakot district, support from a well-established
cooperative enabled many women — excluding Dailit women — to
switch from raising buffalo and cattle to rearing goats, which
adapted better to growing rain scarcity.
“By enhancing women’s agency, we need to understand that we
are helping them to create an enabling environment where a
women’s right to make decisions about her own life is recognised,
where women are economically empowered and free from all forms of
discrimination and violence,” said Anjal Prakash, who worked on
the case study for the Integrated Centre for Mountain Development
Poverty is the main factor in the declining decision-making
power of women in some hot spots, says the report, even when women
share responsibilities in the family and work outside of the home.
In semi-arid Kenya, for example, women of female-headed households
sell alcohol to earn money to pay for children’s schooling, but
this exposes them to health risks, such as engaging in sexual
activities with their clients.
A 35-year-old woman told researchers, “Despite our efforts,
there is a high level of malnutrition here. We can’t afford meat,
we just eat rice and potatoes, but even for this, the quantity is
The study notes that international agreements, such as the
gender action plan of the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) require information about what builds the
adaptive capacity of women, and men, so that agreements can support
sustainable, equitable and effective adaptation.
It suggests that effective social protection, like the universal
public distribution system for cereals in India, or pensions and
social grants in Namibia, could contribute to relieving immediate
pressures on survival.
‘This however cannot always be done on the “cheap” —
investments are needed to enable better and more sustainable
management of resources. ‘Women’s self-help groups are often
presented as solutions, yet they are confronted by the lack of
resources, skills and capacity to help their members effectively
meet the challenges they confront,’ the report adds.
This story was originally
published by The Nepali Times
Women in Climate Hot Spots Face Challenges Adapting appeared
first on Inter Press
Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Women in Climate Hot Spots Face Challenges Adapting