A gender-sensitive approach to water management adaptation planning is important if we are to develop strategies that will meet the needs of both men and women and be effective in the long term, says Dana Kaplan, UNEP Environmental Policy Graduate, In her paper “Adaptation to climate change induced water stress in the Nile River basin: A Gender perspective”. The paper is quoted in ASARECA’s Policy Analysis and Advocacy Programme (PAAP) electronic newsletter Volume 14 Number 3 of 18 February 2011.
She says it is important to take into account the diverse situations of men and women when planning demand-side management strategies, particularly as many of them require a change in behavior. Traditional gender roles prevail, with men and women having diverse roles and rights. These are important to take into account in water management and in defining adaptation strategies. Studies have shown that because of different gender roles and different adaptive capacities, men and women are impacted by climate change in different ways.
Different societal roles and capacities to adapt to the impacts of climate change mean that climate change-induced water stress will have different implications for men and women. They will, in turn, develop diverse mechanisms for coping with water stress, which are bound to have varying and significant effects on the livelihoods of men and women.
Understanding these diverse impacts and coping mechanisms is essential for developing effective, proactive adaptation strategies. Adaptation is the means of reducing vulnerability to climate-induced changes. It can occur either proactively, through concrete activities planned in anticipation of projected needs and changes; or reactively, as a mechanism of coping with a change in available resources. It can also occur on both individual and community levels.
Strategies will only be effective if the message is conveyed to everyone. Women have a much lower literacy rate and lower rate of participation in the workforce in Sudan and Egypt. Since information is often distributed in print or at the workplace, this needs to be taken into consideration when developing awareness strategies. Coping strategies that are beneficial for both men and women, have positive environmental impacts and are sustainable, should be formally recorded, supported, and popularised amongst other communities.
The Nile River Basin is one of the most critical shared water basins in Africa, shared by 10 countries, she states that the river basin faces increasing water stress due to a combination of the effects of climate change, high population growth and increasing development.
Photo Credit: Stevie Mann/ILRI