Women in food systems are more negatively affected by climate change impacts than men. The CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform developed a methodology for mapping climate, agriculture, and gender inequality hotspots. This allows decision-makers to target scarce support to the most-at-risk women. The methodology has garnered interest from the Africa Group of Negotiators Expert Support (AGNES), set to use it to support African nations’ adaptation goals; and the Overseas Development Institute, which plans to adapt it to strengthen water governance under climate change.
In 2022, researchers from the CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform developed a methodology for mapping climate–agriculture–gender inequality hotspots.
By mapping where climate hazards converge with large concentrations of women participating in food systems and significant structural gender inequalities, we can identify where climate change impacts hit women the hardest. Decision-makers and policymakers can use the results to allocate scarce resources to most-at-risk populations.
GENDER researchers applied this methodology to 87 low- and middle-income countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, identifying the countries in which women are most at risk from the adverse effects of climate change. Zambia, Mali, Bangladesh, and Pakistan were among the countries ranked highest on the list (two from Africa and the highest two in Asia, respectively).
The findings on Pakistani women’s high exposure to climate change risks were unfortunately underscored when “apocalyptic” flash floods ravaged one-third of Pakistan in October 2022. GENDER’s subnational hotspot mapping had highlighted Balochistan, Punjab, and Sindh provinces as hotspots within Pakistan, and indeed Balochistan and Sindh were the provinces most affected by the floods, with Punjab also significantly hit. This, combined with the gender-inequal impacts of past floods, prompted GENDER researchers to urge planners of aid interventions to design targeted aid to support women farmers in these three provinces. GENDER researchers also reiterated the urgent need for strategic investments in interventions that combine climate-risk management and adaptation actions with efforts to improve women’s general access to assets, technology, knowledge, and credit.
“Kenya has just suffered the worst drought in decades. The effects of the [drought] were evidently adverse for … women and children. … All these [people] need interventions that are … targeted based on actual evidence and data … . To effectively do this, there is a need for a nationwide gender-climate hotspot mapping.” – Ms. Veronica M. Nduva, Principal Secretary, State Department for Gender and Affirmative Action, Ministry of Public Service, Gender and Affirmative Action, Kenya
The hotspot methodology itself since attracted interest from both policy influencers and development partners.
Firstly, when GENDER researchers presented the methodology at the Bonn Climate Change Conference in mid-2022, AGNES subsequently expressed interest in collaborating on using the methodology in support of African countries’ commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change policy. AGNES is a not-for-profit African think tank of experts and practitioners that provide evidence-based technical support to African governments and AGNES — supporting national governments’ climate policy implementation and decision-making. Applying GENDER’s new methodology to identify climate–agriculture–gender inequality hotspots, also at subnational levels, can support governments to target interventions intended to contribute to their national climate adaptation and resilience goals. Policymakers from Kenya, Uganda, and Botswana have expressed interest in collaborating with AGNES to conduct subnational mapping of hotspots in 2023. This work is set to also build on other CGIAR research, namely granular mapping of hotspots of gender and climate change vulnerability in Rwanda supported by Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa.
Secondly, CGIAR researchers and partners — through new CGIAR research Initiatives in Asia and Africa — are partnering with the Overseas Development Institute to build on GENDER’s climate–agriculture–gender inequality hotspot methodology. Initially, the partnership is working to develop a framework to analyze: (i) gendered dimensions of challenges related to climate, water, and agriculture; and (ii) institutional capacity for GT change. The broader aim is to provide evidence on how water-governance institutions can respond to complex climate challenges in gender-inclusive ways.
This extension of GENDER’s methodology is increasingly meaningful because climate crises often manifest as water crises, especially for women. To support women to respond to climate change impacts, there is an urgent need to strengthen water-governance institutions in climate-vulnerable regions and build their capacity to manage climate and water crises in gender-inclusive ways. The framework, which is currently under development, is set to be piloted in Bangladesh in partnership with the International Water Management Institute.
Header photo: GENDER researchers identified Pakistan as a climate–agriculture–gender inequality hotspot; Pakistani women’s vulnerability was unfortunately underscored after the October 2022 “apocalyptic” flash floods. Photo by Asian Development Bank