Women and Climate Change

8 March, 2016 | Grace Ayoo
Categories: Sustainable Development Goals, Uganda

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.

Atek b
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.

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