Practical Action Consulting East Africa in partnership with Institute of Development Studies and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network rolled out a study mid last year to identify factors that influence men and women participating in climate adaptation and mitigation initiatives.
According to Jechoniah Kitala, the principal project manager, Practical Action Consulting East Africa, the preliminary findings indicate that ignoring gender differences in climate change adaptation projects could widen gender gaps and hinder participatory development.
Currently, the study is being conducted in Kisumu. It began in August 2015 and is to end next month. The study involves 128 participants, including key informants and opinion leaders at the county and community levels.
Kitalla told SciDev that men and women are key agents of change, leading to the assertion that they have equal opportunities to participate in development projects that address the effects of climate change.
“Gender-sensitive approaches can ensure that everybody has an equal opportunity to engage in projects that take into account long-term adaptation and mitigation,” Kitala says.
Therefore, it is important to understand the different impacts of climate change that men and women face, and move beyond generalizations, Kitala added.
Gender inequality should be minimal and this can be achieved if people come up with enterprise-based approaches to climate-compatible development, which can help reduce gender disparity in participatory development.
Kitala provided that the inter-relationship among population dynamics, climate change and environmental degradation is complex. National and county governments and development agencies are therefore encouraged to create policies and programmes with a gender lens to promote the effective participation of men and women in sustainable development activities.
Elvin Nyakuri, an environmental policy lecturer at Kenya’s University of Nairobi, said. “There is a need to advocate for greater participation of women in climate change institutions and processes, and to conduct institutional gender audits which identify the gender-blind structures and processes that currently exist.”
The approach will make sure that men and women have an equal voice in decision-making and broader governance processes, and that they are given equal access to the resources necessary to respond to the negative effects of climate change.
“The coordination of programmes and activities that address gender and climate compatible-development is non-existent,” adds Nyakuri. “There is a need to check on the mandates of different institutions and strengthen areas that would address this issue or identify opportunities and programmes that would best fit this debate within the county governance structure.”