Rural women, facing the burden of climate change!

Submitted by Immaculate Nansubuga | published 24th Oct 2011 | last updated 17th Mar 2020
Please note: content is older than 5 years

Despite the many fresh water resources in Mukono district, the water sources are highly contaminated and communities in this region are still affected by climate change and its impacts. The region is located just north of Lake Victoria in Uganda. Natural water sources serve a population of 583,600 of whom 49.8% are males and 50.2% are females approximately.

The area not only receives longer hot dry spells but also very short heavy rains. This leads to scarcity to water as there is drying of the rivers, streams, shortage of underground water. Also the food crops are affected and diseases easily spread with such impacts. Rural women are more dependant on the natural environment so as to support their families’ for daily survivals.

Katosi Women Development Trust (KWDT) a local Non Government Organisation (NGO), working with 16 women groups in the sub counties of Nakisunga, Ntenjeru, Mpata and Mpunge in Mukono district has an mission of “enabling rural women to effectively manage their social, economic and political development processes for improved livelihoods” and vision of “empowering rural women with productive livelihoods in healthy communities”. For 15 years now, KWDT has been working with rural women in this area not only to empower them to improve their households’ standards of living, but also engage them in the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. KWDT has also empowered women to influencing decisions at the local government, advocate and lobby to improve service delivery in their communities.

However, climate change has greatly affected agriculture production and threatens food and nutritional security. KWDT therefore seeks to support women to mitigate and adapt to climate change and its effects by increasing their access to and use of renewable energy technologies and water for productivity in agriculture. Despite its effect, in many areas of Uganda and other countries, the causes and effects of climate change are only known by the elites and the local communities, whose activities contribute greatly to climate change and those most, affected by it, have little knowledge if any about the subject.

KWDT aims at increasing the capacity of local women to mitigate and adapt to climate change while increasing their knowledge on the subject. This is because they greatly contribute and are greatly affected by climate change.

Detrimental effects of climate change can be felt in the short-term through natural hazards and in the long-term, through more gradual degradation of the environment. The adverse effects of these events are already felt in many areas, including Uganda, in relation to agriculture and food security; water resources and energy.

In many of these contexts, women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men primarily as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent for their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change.

Furthermore, they face social, economic and political barriers that limit their coping capacity. Women and men in rural areas in Uganda like in all developing countries are especially vulnerable as they are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood. Women who are charged with the responsibility to secure water, food and fuel for cooking and heating face the greatest challenges.

When coupled with unequal access to resources and to decision-making processes, limited mobility places rural women in a position where they are disproportionately affected by climate change.

It is thus important to target women in measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Women are not only vulnerable to climate change and its impacts but they are also effective actors or agents of change in relation to both mitigation and adaptation.

Climate change has affected women in the following dimensions;

 

Women, Agriculture and food security

Climate change has serious ramifications in four dimensions of food security: food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability. Women farmers currently account for 80 per cent of all food production in Uganda. 2/3 of the female labour force in developing countries, and more than 90 percent in many African countries, is engaged in agricultural work.

In the context of climate change, traditional food sources become more unpredictable and scarce.

Women face loss of income as well as harvest often their sole sources of food and income. Related increases in food prices make food more inaccessible to poor people, in particular to women and girls whose health has been found to decline more than male health in times of food shortages. Furthermore, women are often excluded from decision-making on access to and the use of land and resources critical to their livelihoods.

 

Women and water resources

Climate change has significant impacts on fresh water sources, affecting the availability of water used for domestic and productive tasks. The consequences of the increased rainfall and droughts are far reaching, particularly for women who are responsible for water management at the household level.

All over Uganda, women and girls bear the burden of fetching water for their families and spend significant amounts of time daily hauling water from distant sources. The water from distant sources is rarely enough to meet the needs of the household and is often contaminated, such that women and girls also pay the heaviest price for poor sanitation.

Given the changing climate, inadequate access to water and poor water quality affect women, given their responsibilities as primary givers, impacts agricultural production and the care of livestock; and increases the overall amount of labour that is expended to collect, store and  protect water.

 

Women and energy

Energy is a particularly critical area and renewable energy is often cited as a key climate change mitigation technology. In Uganda especially in the rural areas, most energy currently comes from traditional biomass fuels such as wood, charcoal and the collection and managing of these fuels is strictly the business of women. Yet the price unit cost of hydro electricity is so high for these rural households.

High dependence on biomass fuels as primary source of energy for cooking has contributed to climate change. With the onslaught of aggravated environmental changes, women are likely to continue spending long perhaps even longer hours fetching fire wood, drawing water, working the land, and grinding cereal crops.

With the situation at ground, KWDT embarks on supporting rural women face these challenges by adapting and mitigating these impacts of climate. KWDT has thematic areas of work with established programs;

  1. Economic Empowerment with Integrated sustainable agriculture program, Micro credit program, entrepreneurial development program
  2. Health with the water, hygiene and sanitation program, HIV/AIDS Malaria and water related diseases awareness program, infant, reproductive and maternal Health program
  3. Leadership and political participation with mentoring women to participate in decision making processes and building their skills to become better politicians and leaders.
  4. Cross cutting themes such as environmental conservation, advocacy and lobbying, capacity building, drama and theatrical productions for creative awareness.

 

WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS IT TO CONSERVE THE ENVIRONMENT!?

 

References

Map of Uganda http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/Mukono_District_Uganda.png

 

Contact Details

Katosi Women Development Trust

P.O.BOX 33929 Kampala Uganda

+256 414 348 774/ +256 772 748 774

Katosiwomen@katosi.org/ katosiwomendt@gmail.com

www.katosi.org