The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2022) report upholds that climate change effects are not gender neutral. It further notes that women and children are among the highest risk groups.
Within the global climate agenda, the interconnection between gender and climate change is emerging as an important area of focus with a greater emphasis on formulation of gender-responsive national climate policies as well as climate action. But this calls for in-depth research, that will generate solid evidence, for the benefit of those most at risk as priority.
On the 25th to the 30th of July 2022, a team of experts—researchers and policy— working at the intersection of gender and climate change visited Rwanda to conduct a study on granular gender and climate change vulnerability hotspot mapping for decision support, an initiative funded by the Climate Investment Fund through the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Edith Ofwona Adera, Regional Principal Officer at the AfDB, noted that “climate change impacts affect people differently and therefore requires differentiated responses informed by sex disaggregated data”.
She emphasized the importance of the climate-gender hotspots mapping study noting that it will provide critical evidence to guide gender-responsive climate interventions for the implementation of NDCs, NAPs and other climate-related commitments.
The experts were drawn from the Africa Group of Negotiators Expert Support (AGNES), the Women’s University in Africa (WUA), Accelerating the Impact of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA), AfDB, CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform and Young Volunteers for Environment (YVE).
“The gender and climate hotspot mapping approach aims to identify hotspots— or areas of greatest vulnerability—and provides knowledge and information for policy makers to understand the gender dimensions of climate impacts”, said Dr. Sophia Huyer from AICCRA.
This analysis can help to prioritize opportunities and interventions to inform gender responsive Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and climate action. Recently, CGIAR Gender Impact Platform researchers released a study identifying climate-agriculture-gender inequity hotspots in low- to middle-income countries. The study revealed where climate change hit women the hardest, so that investments could be directed to specific actions to address such inequalities.
While hoping to include other African countries in the coming years, the main objectives of the hotspot mapping work in Rwanda included:
• Deepen work previously done by AfDB by downscaling the gender-climate hotspot analysis from global to country level to reveal gendered climate vulnerabilities.
• Facilitate the development of appropriate policy interventions that will build community resilience to the impacts of climate change in key sectors (agriculture, infrastructure, water and sanitation, ICT and energy) as well as respond to the different ways in which these impacts affect women and men, boys and girls.
• Assessment of gender-climate change hotspots, gender integration, and knowledge products
• Capacity strengthening of national gender and climate institutions and stakeholders to enhance gender integration in climate policies and climate actions
“Rwanda was selected as a pilot country for this work since the objective of its Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR) is to mainstream climate change into the most economically important and vulnerable sectors to climate as well as drive mainstreaming of gender considerations into climate change resilience and broader development in Rwanda”, said Dr. George Wamukoya, Order of Grand Warrior (OGW), who is the Team Lead of AGNES and of the study.
The project complements Rwanda’s SPCR Strategy by facilitating the development of appropriate policy interventions that will build community resilience to the impacts of climate change in key economic sectors as well as respond to the disproportionate ways in which these impacts affect women and men, boys, and girls.
The researchers interacted with officers from Rwanda’s national institutions among them the Ministry of Environment, Rwanda Environment Management Agency (REMA), Gender Monitoring Office (GMO), the Ministry of Infrastructure, Water and Sanitation sector (Mininfra) among others. The team also undertook field visits to two districts in the Southern Province; Huye and Ruhango which are prone to floods and landslides. This was useful to assess the differentiated climate impacts (floods and landslides) within the community.
According to Professor Dominica Chingarande of WUA and Technical Lead for the Rwanda study, the field visit revealed that women and the elderly are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The study also established that their vulnerability was increasing due to limited access to resources, increased workloads, and decreased incomes. The differentiated climate impacts on gender are captured in the table below:
After visiting Huye and Ruhango districts, the team shared the preliminary findings with stakeholders at the AfDB Rwanda Country office and explored ways forward.
Aissa Toure, the Country Manager of AfDB in Rwanda praised the innovative nature of the study, which will make it possible to understand the cause and effect relationships of climate and gender vulnerabilities.
Going forward, the team will finalize the study, develop a clickable gender-climate hotspot map, publish knowledge products and disseminate the findings through workshops. The final results and lessons learnt will also be shared with a global audience at the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP27) hosted by the government of Egypt in November 6 - 18, 2022.