Climate-Smart Agriculture and Gender Side Event Held at CFS42

With the 42nd Committee on World Food Security (CFS) going on this week at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, IFAD today participated in a side event, entitled Climate-Smart Agriculture and Gender — Evidence for Equitable, Food Secure and Sustainable Agriculture. Clare Bishop Sambrook, lead technical specialist for gender at IFAD led off the discussion. She posited that as climate change becomes a more pressing issue for small agricultural producers, resilient techniques will become more intentional and explicit in their business processes. This may translate into planting more fodder crops in pastoral contexts, or growing more fruit trees in tropical food systems. She said that IFAD’s gender-focused interventions are primarily concerned with addressing women’s shortage of time and voice. 

Time. Rural women spend many hours of the day traveling to obtain firewood or water for their households. In the dry season, water may be further away, and as deforestation spreads, firewood may be difficult to find. Therefore IFAD is piloting a flexibiogas system, which generates enough energy for domestic cooking and lighting needs. The environmental dimension is that flexi biogas reduces methane emissions from livestock, and has the potential to alleviate human pressure on forest resources. The system is being piloted in a growing number of projects, thus far in Kenya, Rwanda, Mali, Cambodia and India. 

Voice. Gender dimensions are a constraint on the development of women. Household methodologies are something that IFAD has been doing in the context of climate change and gender equality as a practical household planning exercise that promotes the contributions of women to the household and create goals to work towards.

Dr. Martin Frick, Director of Climate, Energy and Tenure Division at FAO next discussed the need to recognize the different realities of rural men and women in the design and application of interventions, including in the area of climate-smart agriculture. When speaking about improvements in productivity, Frick argued that the solution was not always technologies. If women had the same access to resources as men, the extra output could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 - 17 per cent, he said.  

The issue of measuring women’s empowerment was raised by Vera Weill-Hallie, Chair of Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN). The organization has developed a certification label, the W+ Standard, that endorses projects that create increased social and economic benefits for women participating in economic development or environment projects. In terms of climate change and gender, Weill-Hallie cautioned that more analytical work on gender and climate-smart agriculture needed to be done, and signalled that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted by countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) did not place a sufficient focus on gender. 

The final speaker was Marc Sadler, World Bank Adviser on risks and markets in agriculture. He talked about the different adaptation methods adopted by men and women in response to climate-related risks. Indeed, gender is seen as a one of the main determinants of farmers’ choice of adaptation methods. These factors must be identified at the outset of a project if it’s gong to be able to achieve results, Sadler argued.