Adaptation actions in Africa: Evidence that gender matters

This story by Manon Koningstein was originally posted on the CCAFS News Blog and features the new paper on adaptation actions in Africa suggesting that targeting women with climate and agricultural information is likely to result in uptake of new agricultural practices for adaptation. 



Someone once told a story about how a foreign NGO wanted to support women in East Africa to become financially independent. One of the women had recently become a widow as her husband had passed away, leaving her as the new head of the household.

The organization provided a banana tree for her to plant. Four weeks later, the NGO passed by her house and saw the banana tree lying behind her house, without it being planted. After a lot of discussions they found out that in her community women are not allowed to plant banana trees, so a man had to do it for her. But as she was a single woman, when a man plants a tree for her, her culture states that she needs to marry this man. The woman was still grieving on her husband, and did not want to re-marry yet, with the result that the banana tree was not planted.

This story explains how gender, within agricultural development research, is much more complex than researchers often realize.

The results of this paper seem to indicate that providing information to women, especially information about CSA practices, can help increase adoption rates of adaptation measures, including CSA,"

states CCAFS Gender expert Jennifer Twyman.

Gender is about relationship and power dynamics

Although it is often assumed that gender refers only to women, a meaningful gender analysis also considers men and the differences between men and women.

Gender is about relationships and power dynamics; it refers to socially constructed differences between men and women and is an acquired identity that is learned, changes over time and varies widely within and across cultures (INSTRAW 2004). Gender informs differences in roles and responsibilities, access to and control over resources, and decision-making power. However, other social factors as race, class, ethnicity, religion, age, etc., also influence a person’s position in society, as well as the power dynamics that these imply (Kaijser and Kronsell 2014; Davis 2008).

While recognizing the importance of these various social factors, a new paper entitled Adaptation Actions in Africa: Evidence that Gender Matters has identified differences between men and women, as well as introduced the discussion on other social factors influencing vulnerability to climate change. The research took place in Kenya, Uganda and Senegal.

Neil Palmer photo - Women adaptation blog 2


The research presented in the paper is a collaborative effort between the CGIAR Research Programs on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and several CGIAR centers, including the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).

Read the full story here>>


Manon Koningstein is a Research Associate and Communications Specialist for the Gender & Climate Change team at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), based in Cali, Colombia.

Photo credit: Neil Palmer, CIAT

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