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Reports from the field

- RICHA PRADHAN

Jun 1, 2017-

Climate change has become a global issue with it’s rising impact on different sectors. But the question is whether it impacts all people, communities and genders equally. Most studies show that poor communities and women in particular are more vulnerable to climate change. This is because of the difference in socially structured roles as per gender, and also high reliance on climate dependent livelihoods such as agriculture and fishery in which the poor and women are engaged. In Nepal, women comprise a majority of the poor; and lately, women’s involvement in farming has increased due to outmigration of males.

A study was conducted in Lele, Lalitpur in a bid to explore the nexus between climate change and women. The overall objective was to explore how women involved in agriculture have been impacted by climate change. The study has shown that the major impact on agriculture from climate change is soil compaction and an increase in pests and weeds in the study area. Due to soil compaction, the number of days required to plough a field and the number of labourers has doubled. This has increased the cost of production and drudgery of women. Phul Kumari Dongol of Lele complained that she used to get 13 muris of rice every year, but this year her harvest dropped to 4 muris due to pest infestation (1 muri equals approximately 64 kg).

As per the Agricultural Service Office in Chapagaun, the pest Tuta absoluta was first seen in Lele in tomatoes. Women in the study area are facing pest infestation problems during food storage, especially when storing potatoes. Women are using more pesticides than before. They used to apply them every fortnight, but now they are doing so twice a week. And what is a matter of concern is that they are not aware about the kind of chemicals they are using. They are exposed to potential hazards because they are not adopting any safety measures.

Another impact of climate change is an increase in different kinds of weeds. Because women need to spend more time weeding amid increased temperatures, they face immediate health issues like headache, dizziness and weakness. 

Climate change has affected women in the study area by increasing the burden of  agricultural work due to which they have less time for other activities, increasing their exposure to pesticides which is impacting their health in the short and long terms, increasing their dependency on market food due to a decline in production affecting their nutrition, and also increasing the cost of production due to increased number of labourers and work days and quantity of pesticides. Climate change is and will be impacting women involved in agriculture; that is why policies and programmes should focus on increasing the adaptive capacity of women and introducing climate smart practices which can help women to save time and labour, increase production and lessen their reliance on pesticides.

(Published in postplatform)

Published: 01-06-2017 13:20

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