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Gender and Climate Change: Mozambique Case Study

Teaser Image Caption
Women collecting shells, crabs, fish and other edible goodies from the mangroves at Inhambane, Mozambique

Executive Summary

By Natasha Ribeiro and Aniceto Chaúque

Mozambique is considered one of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa that has been hard hit by climate change due to its geographical location - downstream of the main rivers in southern Africa and a long coastline of 2,700 km - and the weak socioeconomic situation. The major anticipated impacts of climate change are increase in the frequency and severity of floods, droughts and cyclones. Thus, adaptation measures to cope with the impacts of climate change are urgently needed at different levels in the country. These must be gender-sensitive, considering the differentiated role women and men play in rural societies. Recognizing the need to adapt to new environmental conditions, the Government of Mozambique has reformulated the national legal and institutional framework. Although the existing environmental legislation is conducive for the mainstreaming of climate adaptation, its contribution for mainstreaming a gender perspective into climate change adaptation it is still unrealised.

This study was conducted as part of a regional project funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBF) through its southern African regional office. It aimed at investigating the gender differentiated impacts of climate change in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. However, this research looked at Mozambique. The research questions under study were:

  • Are women and men in Southern Africa differently impacted by climate change?
  • How women and men are differently impacted?
  • What are the physiological, political, economic and societal causes for the differences experienced, if any?
  • What are the current coping and adaptation strategies and capacities?
  • How can the capacity of women and men be strengthened to better adapt to climate change and climate variability?

To achieve the objectives of this study, a qualitative study was conducted that uses a combination of various data collection and analysis methods. Data collection was performed through informal and semi-structured interviews to households and key informants (traditional and government’s chiefs and heads of local associations), focus groups of discussion and histories of life of the oldest men and women of each community. Data analysis was performed using a combination of tools such as Gender Matrix Analysis (GMA), Impact Assessment, Influencing factors, Institutional analysis, Access and control and social profiles, Capacities and vulnerabilities analysis and Needs assessment.

The study was conducted in two communities of Gaza Province of southern Mozambique - Mapai - Ngale in Chicualacuala District and Magondzwene in Chibuto District. The former is located upstream of the Limpopo River and vulnerable to droughts while the latter is situated downstream of the same river and vulnerable to floods. The communities were selected based the following agreed common criteria for the region: rural, poor, vulnerable and already facing climate change effects.

The main results of this study reveal that women and men are differentially impacted by climate changes due to the current power relations and their differentiated roles in these communities. Women have access to but not control over natural resources and other property rights. Additionally, women do most of the reproductive and part of the productive work, while men are only responsible for productive work.

Successive droughts these communities have faced for the last two years has increased men’s migration to South Africa and other places in search for jobs. As a consequence, women’s role in productive work has increased considerably in the last two years. For example, women’s participation in alcoholic drink brewing in Mapai-Ngale and fisheries-related work in Magondzwene has increased in the last two years. This imposes pressure on women who have to spend extra time for productive work in detriment of the reproductive jobs and time spent with kids. On the positive side, men’s migration has enhanced women’s participation, in the decision-making structures. This is especially evident in the Mapai-Ngale community where migration is more intense and as a consequence, the National Women Organization (OMM) has gained better position in the decision-making structures. However, this issue was not deeply explored in this study and thus a thorough investigation on this is recommended.

A number of coping and adaptation strategies are currently being deployed in these communities and these include alternative food sources such as tinhirre, ulharo, canhu – marula and, massala – Strychnos spinosa in Mapai-Ngale and muambo and tinhirre in Magondzwene, informal (charcoal, farms, livestock and construction) and formal (migration) jobs and adoption of different lifestyles. In terms of formal and informal organizations to discuss environmental problems, the Magondzwene community is better organized than Mapai-Ngale. However, Mapai-Ngale has a better representation of women in the decision-making structures through the OMM and the elderly advisory group which is stronger.

There is general consensus amongst policymakers and academics that there are four ways to strengthen women and men’s capacities for a better adaptation to climate change. These include: implementation of existing policies and programmes, allocation of resources, capacity building and reinforcement, of women’s participation in local institutions. Due to the key role women play in these, communities, they should always be considered as the priority group in any activity. Since agriculture is the main women’s activity in these communities, we strongly recommend capacity building of women in agriculture and agro-processing techniques through for example the creation of farmers’ clubs, the creation and reinforcement of local institutions and discussion forums and the formation of an environmental multi-institutional task force (including institutions as the Ministry for Environmental Coordination - MICOA, National Institute of calamities management - INGC, Ministry of Agriculture - MINAG, Non-governmental Organizations, etc).