Women and Climate Change

As we celebrate the International Women’s Day, it is worth remembering the role of women in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. For indigenous women — particularly in developing countries — threats to their environments constitute direct attacks on their physical, social, and economic health. They have a very close relationship with the cycles of nature but with climate change altering those patterns, it’s very disruptive to their lives and activities.

The women are charged with the role of cooking, cleaning, gardening, collecting water and wood fuel. As food, water and wood become scarce, they are required to move for long distances in search for them. This definitely puts their lives at risk. The rural woman spends up to 8 hours in her unventilated cooking hut and during all this time, she’s inhaling harmful smoke that affects her eyes and lungs in the long run. After she has prepared the meals for the day, she has to also boil their water for drinking.

Women have knowledge and coping strategies that give them a practical understanding of innovation and skills to adapt to changing environmental realities as well as to contribute to the solution. These strategies to deal with climate variability are still a largely untapped resource. Additionally, women are often faced with difficulties when it comes to the general accessibility of financial resources, capacity-building activities and technologies.

Since 2013, co2balance under its sustainable borehole project has been able to rehabilitate and offer a maintenance programme to 61 boreholes in the eastern and northern parts of Uganda to ensure that it delivers safe water for households for the 7 year lifetime of the project. These boreholes have elected committees that ensure that the boreholes are used properly, user fees are collected plus so many other roles.  50% of the committee members are women because they believe they are more involved in the borehole activities since they are solely responsible for collecting water for domestic use.

The women are tasked as caretakers of the boreholes because they are in the best position to ensure proper use of the water source for sustainability.

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L-R Grace, caretaker and secretary of Atek B borehole committee

 

On this note, the women should play a more active role to become agents of change and push for their rights to be included and integrated in all development policies. They should actively participate in stakeholder consultations, reduction of energy consumption and adopt/embrace clean energy alternatives.

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Women of the Aminokello borehole user committee singing before attending a WASH sensitization meeting

Weaving for a Reason

From inception to date the residents of Kasighau location in Voi district have continued enjoying the many benefits accrued from usage of Carbon Zero stove.
Before acquiring the Carbon Zero stove, the women and children in Kasighau location had been reduced to the daily drudgery of collecting cooking fire wood in the better part of their daily routine. Many of the children did not have time for their studies because they could not afford to leave this hefty chore to their mothers alone. Many are the days that they were absent from school. The place of the woman was purely in the kitchen. Involvement in any income earning activity was not in the mind of many women from Kasighau. Their minds had been enslaved in the daily routine of collecting fire wood for use on the wasteful 3 stone jiko.

The fuel efficient Carbon Zero stove came to them at the most appropriate time. Since the years the stove has been in use, more women have become more economically empowered. This has significantly been attributed to the less time utilized by the women in fire wood collection. The fire wood that used to last a family for one day in preparing 3 meals with the traditional 3 stone jiko can now last the same family for one week. The stove is also highly efficient in terms of time spent for cooking. Many women now attest that they spend less than half of the total time originally spent cooking the same food with the 3 stone traditional jiko.

Meet Hanna Manga the chair lady Rukanga basket weavers. She once wondered how usage of Carbon Zero stove could have a positive impact on his economic development. Let me explain with her life.

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Since benefiting from Carbon Zero stove, Hanna as had more time set aside for basket weaving. This is because she spends less time for collecting wood for usage with his Carbon Zero stove. When cooking with the Carbon Zero stove she also utilizes far more less time because the stove is fast since it retains a lot of heat when lit unlike the traditional 3 stone jiko. The net effect of this is an increase in the number of baskets weaved and sold each month. With the proceeds from the sale of the baskets she has been able to financially support the education of her two sons who are now schooling at Voi secondary school. The extra money saved from the baskets proceeds have been wisely utilized by her to build a decent house which is in the back ground.

With the adoption and usage of Carbon Zero stove, this has saved Hanna the extra minute required to weave an extra basket. With the sale of an extra basket she is able to make an extra income required for her children’s education.
Compiled By; Kenneth Mukuru, Moses Nyaga and Moses Maina

Clinton’s support for cookstoves

Two weeks before Super Tuesday, when Bill Clinton made case for his wife’s candidacy, he praised the Clinton Foundation’s and particularly Mrs. Clinton’s efforts in promoting clean cookstoves in Sub-Saharan Africa, as one her many policy accomplishments. Indeed it was Hillary Clinton, back in 2010 as a Secretary of State who announced the launching of Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a new public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), adding that “clean stoves could be as transformative as bed nets or vaccines.” A year later she made an appearance in an interview with the Alliance’s other goodwill ambassador, actress Julia Roberts on Oprah Winsfrey Network to focus attention on the issue for a wider audience in the US. In her book, Hard Choices published in 2014, she gave the issue an even higher visibility and explained the reasons that made her to take action on this “deeply troubling and consequential challenge”. She pointed out that according to the World Health Organization, smoke from dirty stoves and fires kills almost 2 million people each year, most of them women and children. It kills more than twice as many people as malaria, she noted. As a mother herself, she called women worldwide to support hers and the Alliance’s efforts to reach 100 million households by 2020 to promote clean and healthy cooking environment. Although the 2016 presidential election is still a long way off, after this week’s Super Tuesday it worth to keep an eye on Mrs. Clinton who might take the support for the cause of clean cookstoves to an even higher level.