Food production, climate change and gender. An interconnected combination and deeply intriguing research that, despite genuine efforts, we still know very little.
The lack of evidence on how men and women farmers are affected differently by and adapt to climate change is also reason-gender conversations still revolve around theories. It is not until recently that sex-disaggregated data has begun to move, further helping to build momentum for take-gender issues more seriously, both internally within research institutions and externally in rural communities.
The working paper just published How resilient are farming households, communities, men and women to climate change in Africa? (PDF) shows through looking at a bank of rigid data, combined with in-depth interviews in East and West Africa, how men and women farmers contrasting realities that is supportive, face or hinder their ability to adapt to climate change.
“At the moment, there are few studies that combine household level quantitative analysis with qualitative work, delving into the” why “and” what “, said gender-lead author and researcher Carlos Perez. even fewer studies have examined in relation to agricultural practices. Given that our study does both, I really think that we have been able to contribute to a much needed gender-discussion “piece.
A genre-depth look at the West and East Africa
“Access to agricultural information, cash and resources, groups and productive lands represent all conditions that define the limits of adaptation, and can support or hinder, individuals and communities to increase climate resilience,” said Pérez.
“This makes it crucial to take a closer look at how men and women farmers have access to institutions and key political and social resources in order to predict and support their capacity to adapt to climate change, the better” he continued.
Analysis data Perez and his co-authors came from a series of baseline studies compiled by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) partners between 2011-2012 and East Africa, Africa West and South Asia. So far, similar studies were being carried out in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The authors of the working paper examined nine different sites, in which a number of female-headed households, which really unravel gender-differences were identified.
The study concludes that there are indeed a number of differences between men and farmers, especially among the male and female-headed households in terms of women’s access to resources, information and agricultural land, as well as participation in organizations at different levels of society. They authors noted differences more pronounced among women-and households headed by men in West Africa than in East Africa; it is important to consider.
Women and recurring problem of land
The study reveals that women who participate control less land than their male counterparts, and that the land itself was often made of lower quality, and insecure tenure. This is a result that men are, in many parts of Africa, to inherit and own land. As a result, women are allowed to cultivate the land given to them by their husbands or by the community, so called communal lands.
In Ghana, women participants mentioned that the fields of men usually lie just off the main, permanent river, while the fields of women were near a seasonal river, more dependent on rainfall and other factors.
In Burkina Faso, women, more than men, landless and had no access to better technology or equipment, no access to manure or work, there is no means to buy chemical fertilizers, and few training opportunities.
This was also the general trend of households participating Western Africa, where female-headed households tend to be smaller, and had women doing most of the work. Significantly, these properties were also more food insecurity, as they tend to experience five or more “hungry months” more often than households headed by men.
Women and (not) access to service organizations
The ability to adapt to climate change, and sustain livelihoods, relates to the degree to which people interact with and benefit from the social support institutions, government and non-governmental organizations, the study says.
A significant difference between male and female farmers is that women tend to work and join organizations that rely on the local community, while men are better connected with groups who work beyond the locality.
The study reveals that men more often than women, are usually in a better position to deal with, and benefit from government agencies, international NGOs and even private companies. Through these institutions, men often receive technical assistance, subsidized tools, seeds, fertilizers and improved livestock breeds, water pumps, cash incentives for community work and more. More importantly, men can play a role as mediators with these organizations, and many times they speak on behalf of women.
The local village groups are not isolated from the rest of the world though. Many organizations are channeling funding through local initiatives or target women in their approaches. However, the main difference lies in the access of women to government and NGO agencies focus on agriculture, livestock, forestry and land management, water and other natural resources, the authors argue. These groups primarily, if not exclusively, aimed at men and their needs.
The real challenge is how we can overcome these anti-women bias by public and private agencies that promote agriculture and livestock?
The role of gender norms in adapting to climate change
Gender norms play an important role in shaping how well households will be able to adapt to a changing climate. But these norms change, and sometimes they do it very quickly.
Share the results and the issues raised here with these communities is a way to stimulate a wider dialogue within and between communities and local and national politicians, about the need to take seriously the differences in genre. This if climatic and agricultural programs and projects must have a real impact in the long term for both men and women farmers.