Gender, Climate, and Agriculture in Africa

A short bibliography on gender approaches, climate, and agriculture in Africa 2021


Ampaire, E. L., Acosta, M., Huyer, S., Kigonya, R., Muchunguzi, P., Muna, R., & Jassogne, L. (2020). Gender in climate change, agriculture, and natural resource policies: insights from East Africa. Climatic Change, 158(1), 43-60.

Gender mainstreaming was acknowledged as an indispensable strategy for achieving gender equality at the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. Since then, governments have made substantial efforts in developing gender-responsive policies and implementation strategies. The advent of climate change and its effects, which have continued to impact rural livelihoods and especially food security, demands that gender mainstreaming efforts are accelerated. Effective gender mainstreaming requires that gender is sufficiently integrated in policies, development plans, and implementation strategies, supported by budgetary allocations. This study analyzes the extent of gender integration in agricultural and natural resource policies in Uganda and Tanzania, and how gender is budgeted for in implementation plans at district and lower governance levels. A total of 155 policy documents, development plans, and annual action plans from national, district, and sub-county/ward levels were reviewed. In addition, district and sub-county budgets for four consecutive financial years from 2012/2013 to 2015/2016 were analyzed for gender allocations. Results show that whereas there is increasing gender responsiveness in both countries, (i) gender issues are still interpreted as “women issues,” (ii) there is disharmony in gender mainstreaming across governance levels, (iii) budgeting for gender is not yet fully embraced by governments, (iii) allocations to gender at sub-national level remain inconsistently low with sharp differences between estimated and actual budgets, and (iv) gender activities do not address any structural inequalities. We propose approaches that increase capacity to develop and execute gender-responsive policies, implementation plans, and budgets.

Andersson Djurfeldt, A., Cuthbert Isinika, A., & Mawunyo Dzanku, F. (2018). Agriculture, diversification, and gender in rural Africa: longitudinal perspectives from six countries (p. 288). Oxford University Press.

This book contributes to the understanding of smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa through addressing the dynamics of intensification and diversification within and outside agriculture, in contexts where women have much poorer access to agrarian resources than men. It uses a longitudinal cross-country comparative approach, relying on the Afrint dataset—unique household-level longitudinal data for six African countries collected over the period 2002–2013/15. The book first descriptively summarizes findings from the third wave of the dataset. The book nuances the current dominance of structural transformation narratives of agricultural change by adding insights from gender and village-level studies of agrarian change. It argues that placing agrarian change within broader livelihood dynamics outside agriculture, highlighting country- and region-specific contexts is an important analytical adaptation to the empirical realities of rural Africa. From the policy perspective, this book provides suggestions for more inclusive rural development policies, outlining the weaknesses of present policies illustrated by the currently gendered inequalities in access to agrarian resources. The book also provides country-specific insights from Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia.

Babugura, A., Mtshali, N., & Mtshali, M. (2010). Gender and Climate change: South Africa case study. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Southern.

With particular attention to South Africa, this study aims to examine the interrelations between climate change and gender so as to make a contribution to the existing information gap on the gender differentiated impacts of climate change. The study will also aim to create awareness amongst policy and decision-makers about the need for gender differentiated adaptation policies. The study makes use of qualitative research techniques guided by a combination of gender analysis tools. The techniques include participatory rural appraisal in the form of focus group discussions, role play, life histories and key informant interviews. Through these techniques, primary data was collected to understanding the differences in gender roles, activities, needs, and opportunities in the context of climate change. Given that the men and women in both study areas are poverty stricken with dependency on agriculture and natural resource for their livelihoods, climate change poses a risk for them. Gender differentiated impacts of climate variability were manifested in the unequal distribution of roles and responsibilities of men and women in both study areas. Results reveal that through socially constructed roles and responsibilities, women seem to bear the most burdens resulting from climate variability impacts. Women’s burdens were more evident in their response to the impacts of climate variability. Women were found to have extra workloads when faced with climatic stressors as they made efforts to cope with them. Working longer hours than men affected them not only physically but emotionally drained them as they constantly have to worry about the well being of their household members, especially children and the youth who depend on them. Although the men’s work load is lighter than that of women they are also impacted by climate variability. Men’s impacts are more psychological than physical. Their psychological effects are further compounded by unemployment resulting in negative coping mechanisms. There is therefore no doubt that climate change will impact differently on rural men and women. The results also show that gender roles are undergoing change due to climate related impacts which are further heightened by factors such as unemployment, HIV/AIDS and poverty which forces men and women to engage in different activities leading to new roles. With more women diversifying their livelihoods, gender roles are also being impacted. There is a change in gender roles to accommodate responses to the impacts of climate variability. In this study it was evident that women are now are involved in activities that generate earnings, thus reshaping relationships between men and women. The income generated by women through trade is used to sustain the household. Women generating an income also have more opportunities and power to decide what the income can be used for.

Bob, U., & Babugura, A. (2014). Contextualising and conceptualising gender and climate change in Africa.

This overview provides the conceptual and contextual foundation for the issue on ‘Gender and climate change’. Drawing on a literature review and appraisal of the contributions in this issue, we foreground the current key climate change debates. There is consensus that climate change is a global challenge with devastating impacts at different scales. It is also established in the literature that some communities and groups are more vulnerable than others. In mapping the issues we provide an overview of the gender and climate change debates, as the thematic focus. The importance of engendering policy development, research as well as adaptation and mitigation strategies are underscored. The discussion then provides a brief overview of climate change trends and dynamics in Africa, the continent which is viewed as the most vulnerable to climate change impacts due to persistent poverty (including socio-economic inequalities), unsustainable and insecure livelihoods, high reliance on the natural resource base, limited access to information and technologies, and weak institutions and state fragility. This is followed by a thematic examination of the key issues related to gender and climate change in Africa which include women as consumers, access to land and natural resources, agricultural production and food security, health aspects, security issues and adaptation and mitigation support. Finally, concluding remarks are forwarded which resonate with the contributions by writers in the issue.

Bryan, E., Theis, S., & Choufani, J. (2017). Gender-Sensitive, Climate-Smart Agriculture for Improved Nutrition in Africa South of the Sahara.
The effects of climate change are already being felt across the globe, particularly among smallholder producers in developing countries, whose livelihoods are strongly affected by climate conditions. Climate change will continue to threaten food production and security, particularly in Africa south of the Sahara, where dramatic increases in temperature (greater than the global average) and changing rainfall patterns are expected to result in declines in staple crop yields and farm profits. This Chapter tackles the nexus of CSA, gender, and nutrition, providing an integrated conceptual framework with entry points for action as well as information requirements to guide interventions in the context of climate change. The authors clearly argue that to go beyond incremental approaches to adaptation, these types of integrated approaches are essential in order to address the development challenges that the future climate creates.

Bryan, E., Bernier, Q., Espinal, M., & Ringler, C. (2018). Making climate change adaptation programmes in sub-Saharan Africa more gender responsive: insights from implementing organizations on the barriers and opportunities. Climate and Development, 10(5), 417-431.

Research shows that paying attention to gender matters not only for the equity of climate change adaptation programmes, but also for their efficiency and effectiveness. Many organizations working to increase resilience to climate change with local communities also recognize the importance of gender, yet the degree to which gender is actually integrated in climate change projects is unclear. This study examines the extent to which organizations involved in climate change and resilience work in sub-Saharan Africa are integrating research on gender and climate change and incorporating gender-sensitive approaches into their programmes using data collected through a knowledge, attitudes, and practices survey and key informant interviews targeted at government agencies, local and international NGOs, and other practitioners. The results show that although organizations have access to research on climate change from various sources, more is needed to identify entry points for gender integration into climate change adaptation programmes across a range of local contexts. Lack of staff capacity on gender, lack of funding to support gender integration, and socio-cultural constraints were identified as key barriers to gender integration by many respondents, particularly from government agencies. Enabling organizations to pay greater attention to the gender dimensions of their programmes is possible through greater collaboration across different types of organizations in order to share knowledge and best practices and strengthen the integration of research into adaptation programmes.

Farnworth, C., Fones-Sundell, M., Nzioki, A., Shivutse, V., Davis, M., Kristjanson, P., & Rijke, E. (2013). Transforming gender relations in agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Stockholm: SIANI.

This book makes the bold claim that empowered women and men are better, more successful farmers who can make the most of the opportunities around them. We argue that there is a causal relation between more equal gender relations in the household and in the community and better agricultural outcomes. The one underpins the other. This is a radical thing to say because it means that the standard development interventions – more extension services, better information, more fertilizer, better machinery – will not fully achieve their goals unless women and men are on equal footing, able to make rational economic decisions unhindered by gender norms that limit what is “appropriate” for women or for men to do or to be.1 Empowering women as decision-makers in all areas of their lives is challenging and exciting. It is a key to poverty reduction. Transforming gender relations will help to make smallholder agriculture and associated development efforts more effective and efficient, with knock-on effects for a variety of development outcomes. Our whole book is about strategies for empowerment.

Huyer, S. (2016). Closing the gender gap in agriculture. Gender, Technology and Development 20(2), pp. 105-116.

Agriculture is the largest employment sector for 60% of women in Oceania, Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and women make up 2/3 of the world’s 600 million small livestock managers. Despite this, women’s activities in agriculture are characterised by a global gender gap in vulnerabilities, access to resources, and productivity. As a result of these differences, women and men farmers in developing countries have different abilities to adapt to climate change. But addressing gender inequalities in agriculture to address climate change involves more than erasing inequities in access to resources. The question of whether women have control of these resources; whether they participate in use of and decisions around the accrued benefits of increased production and income, and whether resources meet their requirements and priorities, will all determine whether the gender gap in agriculture is closed. It also involves ensuring that women’s needs and priorities are met, in terms of how priorities are set, modes of support and resources. Technologies to support resilience and adaptation to climate change by smallholder farmers can promote women’s empowerment and the transformation of gender relations in addition to sustainably increasing agricultural production. But this will only happen if they are implemented in a framework of mutually reinforcing resources, women’s control of assets, equitable decision-making between women and men, and strengthened capacity.

Jost, C., Kyazze, F., Naab, J., Neelormi, S., Kinyangi, J., Zougmore, R., ... & Kristjanson, P. (2016). Understanding gender dimensions of agriculture and climate change in smallholder farming communities. Climate and Development, 8(2), 133-144.

In Uganda, Ghana and Bangladesh, participatory tools were used for a socio-economic and gender analysis of three topics: climate-smart agriculture (CSA), climate analogue approaches, and climate and weather forecasting. Policy and programme-relevant results were obtained. Smallholders are changing agricultural practices due to observations of climatic and environmental change. Women appear to be less adaptive because of financial or resource constraints, because of male domination in receiving information and extension services and because available adaptation strategies tend to create higher labour loads for women. The climate analogue approach (identifying places resembling your future climate so as to identify potential adaptations) is a promising tool for increasing farmer-to-farmer learning, where a high degree of climatic variability means that analogue villages that have successfully adopted new CSA practices exist nearby. Institutional issues related to forecast production limit their credibility and salience, particularly in terms of women's ability to access and understand them. The participatory tools used in this study provided some insights into women's adaptive capacity in the villages studied, but not to the depth necessary to address women's specific vulnerabilities in CSA programmes. Further research is necessary to move the discourse related to gender and climate change beyond the conceptualization of women as a homogenously vulnerable group in CSA programmes.

Kristjanson, P., Bryan, E., Bernier, Q., Twyman, J., Meinzen-Dick, R., Kieran, C., ... & Doss, C. (2017). Addressing gender in agricultural research for development in the face of a changing climate: where are we and where should we be going?. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability, 15(5), 482-500.

Agricultural development efforts that do not address persistent gender gaps miss opportunities for greater impact. This synthesis reflects on key findings from integrated quantitative and qualitative analyses at the nexus of gender, agricultural development, and climate change. Linked farm household-, intrahousehold-, community-, and institutional-level data highlight significant and nuanced gender differences in adaptive capacity of individuals and communities to respond to climate change. The gender gap is also substantial in exposure to climate change and its impacts, and uptake of new practices that lower vulnerability. Women in agriculture will remain largely neglected by information and service providers unless their differing needs, access to, and control over resources are considered at policy and project design stage. Yet clear guidelines for addressing the needs of both men and women in different environments and agricultural systems are still lacking. Participatory ‘action research’ approaches with a focus on co-learning, and using innovative cell phone or social media-based approaches offer exciting new opportunities. Agricultural development decision-makers and project designers need to ‘design with gender in mind’. Equipping them with tools and knowledge of innovative gender-transformative practices and intervention options and creating accountability for serving women and men will be key.

Mutenje, M. J., Farnworth, C. R., Stirling, C., Thierfelder, C., Mupangwa, W., & Nyagumbo, I. (2019). A cost-benefit analysis of climate-smart agriculture options in Southern Africa: Balancing gender and technology. Ecological Economics, 163, 126-137.

Climate change and extreme weather events undermine smallholder household food and income security in southern Africa. Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies comprise a suite of interventions that aim to sustainably increase productivity whilst helping farmers adapt their farming systems to climate change and to manage risk more effectively. Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and a mixed-methods approach were used to assess the likelihood of investment in various CSA technology combinations. The data were drawn respectively from 1440, 696, and 1448 sample households in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, covering 3622, 2106, and 5212 maize-legume plots in these countries over two years. The cost-benefit analysis and stochastic dominance results showed that CSA options that combined soil and water conservation management practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture (CA), improved varieties, and associations of cereal-legume crop species were economically viable and worth implementing for risk-averse smallholder farmers. A dynamic mixed multinomial logit demonstrated that women's bargaining power, drought shock, and access to CSA technology information positively influenced the probability of investing in CSA technology combinations. This study provides evidence of the importance of cultural context, social relevance, and intra-household decision-making in tailoring suitable combinations of CSA for smallholder farmers in southern Africa.

Nelson, V. et al. (2002) “Uncertain predictions, invisible impacts, and the need to mainstream gender in climate change adaptations” Gender & Development 10(2), pp. 51-59.

Vulnerability to environmental degradation and natural hazards is articulated along social, poverty, and gender lines. Just as gender is not sufficiently mainstreamed in many areas of development policy and practice, so the potential impacts of climate change on gender relations have not been studied, and remain invisible. In this article we outline climate change predictions, and explore the effects of long-term climate change on agriculture, ecological systems, and gender relations, since these could be significant. We identify predicted changes in natural hazard frequency and intensity as a result of climate change, and explore the gendered effects of natural hazards. We highlight the urgent need to integrate gender analyses into public policy-making, and in adaptation responses to climate change.

Ouédraogo, M., Partey, S. T., Zougmoré, R. B., Derigubah, M., Sanogo, D., Boureima, M., & Huyer, S. (2018). Mainstreaming gender and social differentiation into CCAFS research activities in West Africa: lessons learned and perspectives.

Women and men have different perceptions on adaptation strategies, and different access and use of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) technologies and practices because of gender gaps in assets and resources. Success in gender mainstreaming requires capacity building in participatory gender research and involvement and empowerment of women around CSA activities.

Ogunlela, Y. I., & Mukhtar, A. A. (2009). Gender issues in agriculture and rural development in Nigeria: The role of women. Humanity & social sciences Journal, 4(1), 19-30.,Gender%20Issues%20in%20Agriculture%20and%20Rural%20Development%20in%20Nigeria%3A%20The,Citation%3A&text=Particularly%20striking%2C%20however%2C%20is%20the,80%20percent%20of%20labour%20force.

Most farmers in Nigeria operate at the subsistence, smallholder level in an extensive agricultural system; hence in their hands lies the country’s food security and agricultural development. Particularly striking, however, is the fact that rural women, more than their male counterparts, take the lead in agricultural activities, making up to 60-80 percent of labour force. It is ironical that their contributions to agriculture and rural development are seldom noticed. Furthermore, they have either no or minimal part in the decision-making process regarding agricultural development. Gender inequality is therefore dominant in the sector and this constitutes a bottleneck to development, calling for a review of government policies on agriculture to all the elements that place rural women farmers at a disadvantage. The women-in-agriculture programme in Nigeria, which was established in cognizance of this and the shortcoming in extension services for women farmers, has been a huge success. Women’s groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil societies have empowered and given rural women farmers a voice and effectively championed their cause. Women farmers now have better access to farm inputs and credits although many barriers remain and would have to be addressed to further enhance their role. Rural women farmers deserve better recognition and greater appreciation of their tangible contributions to agriculture and rural development and food security. Other aspects of gender issues in Nigerian agriculture are discussed.

Perez, C., Jones, E. M., Kristjanson, P., Cramer, L., Thornton, P. K., Förch, W., & Barahona, C. A. (2015). How resilient are farming households and communities to a changing climate in Africa? A gender-based perspective. Global Environmental Change, 34, 95-107.

Rights, social relations, organizations and policies shape vulnerability. Policies take away communities’ traditional natural resources decision-making. Agriculture and livestock production agencies show great anti-women biases. Women are more vulnerable than men but may have similar or better adaptive capacity.
In this paper we examine conditions that underlie vulnerability and resilience possibilities for households and communities that face and respond to climate- and other changes, in nine East and West African countries. We base our analysis on a unique integrated qualitative and quantitative dataset composed of household surveys and village focus group studies carried out across a wide range of environments and agricultural systems. We identify human population growth, commercialization of the economy, and natural resource use policies, in addition to weather, as key drivers of change. We compare the agricultural and livelihood systems of male and female respondents, as well as their productive resources, organization and access to services. Women have less access than men to common property resources, as well as to cash to obtain goods or services. Women control less land than men, the land they control is often of poorer quality, and their tenure is insecure. Women engage in mutual insurance and risk-sharing networks, and benefit from non-agricultural services provided by social support institutions external to the village. Formally registered, public and private external organizations that foster agriculture and livestock production have tremendous anti-women biases, and tend to provide support primarily to men. Policies and strategies are needed to eliminate those prejudices so that men and women increase their resilience and manage well their changing environments.

Sachs, C. E. (Ed.). (2019). Gender, Agriculture and Agrarian Transformations: Changing Relations in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Routledge.

In many regions of the world, agricultural transformations are occurring through increased commodification, new value-chains, technological innovations introduced by CGIAR and other development interventions, declining viability of small-holder agriculture livelihoods, male out-migration from rural areas, and climate change. This book addresses how these changes involve fluctuations in gendered labour and decision making on farms and in agriculture and, in many places, have resulted in the feminization of agriculture at a time of unprecedented climate change. Chapters uncover both how women successfully innovate and how they remain disadvantaged when compared to men in terms of access to land, labor, capital and markets that would enable them to succeed in agriculture. Building on case studies from Africa, Latin America and Asia, the book interrogates how new agricultural innovations from agricultural research, new technologies and value chains reshape gender relations. Using new methodological approaches and intersectional analyses, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of agriculture, gender, sustainable development and environmental studies more generally.

Stamp, P. (1990). Technology, gender, and power in Africa (Vol. 63). IDRC.

Whitehead, A., & Kabeer, N. (2001). Living with uncertainty: gender, livelihoods and pro-poor growth in rural sub-Saharan Africa.

This paper provides a gender perspective on recent arguments about the link between economic growth and poverty reduction in rural sub-Saharan Africa… A livelihoods approach, which takes account of the key objectives which characterise household in poor, agrarian environments, and the multiplicity of ways in which they seek to attain these objectives, provides a …nuanced account of the nature of poverty … in an environment characterised by pervasive uncertainty and notes the various ways in which women are disadvantaged, relative to men, in the pursuit of security of livelihoods.

Tall, A., Kristjanson, P. M., Chaudhury, M., McKune, S., & Zougmoré, R. B. (2014). Who gets the information? Gender, power and equity considerations in the design of climate services for farmers.

Central to understanding the usefulness of climate and weather forecasts in support of agricultural decision-making is addressing the issue of who receives what information. Many contend that improved climate forecasts since the late 1990s have had limited impact on smallholder farming communities in Africa and across the developing world. However, power and privilege may determine who has access to appropriate climate and advisory services within those communities. In 2011-2012, we tested this hypothesis in three climate-vulnerable farming communities in the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security semi-arid research site of Kaffrine, Senegal. Therein, we assessed gender-specific vulnerabilities to climate-related shocks, endogenous adaptation strategies, and coping mechanisms. From the gap between vulnerability and local capacity, we deduced farmers’ climate service needs, and then assessed whether these systematically differed between distinct vulnerable sub-groups within the community – chiefly, between male and female farmers. In 2011 we introduced a seasonal climate forecast for the first time in the community, and explored perceptions of forecast access, usefulness and value, by both men and women. We find that within vulnerable farming communities in Kaffrine, the impact of increasing climate risk is not equally distributed through the population. Moreover, within a community, patterns of unequal access to climate information and advisory services exist, differentiating between community sub-groups that can and cannot make use of incoming climate services to improve their management of climate risks and strengthen their resilience to a changing climate at farm-level. Gender-specific climate service needs exist, both in terms of type of climate information and advisory needed (women farmers for instance reported needing a forecast of rainfall cessation, not onset) and nature of communication channels required to reach the most vulnerable; and we found these differences to be mediated by place-specific socio-cultural realities. Place- and gender-specific needs must inform the design of new climate services for farmers to ensure enhanced equity and effectiveness of such services at the local level. The gender ‘blind spot’ of current national adaptation policies must be replaced by gender-responsive adaptation policies. By reducing the vulnerability of women and other marginalized groups iv through strengthened resilience in the face of increasingly frequent and severe climate-related shocks, such changes will reduce the overall vulnerability of farmers in Kaffrine and other communities facing similar climate challenges.

Twyman, J., Green, M., Bernier, Q., Kristjanson, P. M., Russo, S., Tall, A., ... & Badiane Ndour, N. Y. (2014). Adaptation actions in Africa: evidence that gender matters.

This paper presents the initial data analyses of the CCAFS gender survey implemented in four sites in Africa. Using descriptive statistics we show gender differences in terms of perceptions of climate change, awareness and adoption of climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices, and types and sources of agro-climatic information in the four sites. We find that both men and women are experiencing changes in long-run weather patterns and that they are changing their behaviours in response; albeit relatively minor shifts in existing agricultural practices. For example, the most prevalent changes reported include switching crop varieties, switching types of crops, and changing planting dates. As expected, women are less aware of many CSA practices. Encouragingly, this same pattern does not hold when it comes to adoption; in many cases, in East Africa in particular, women, when aware, are more likely than or just as likely as men to adopt CSA practices. In West Africa, overall, the adoption of these practices was much lower. In addition, we see that access to information from different sources varies greatly between men and women and among the sites; however, promisingly, those with access to information report using it to make changes to their agricultural practices. Our findings suggest that targeting women with climate and agricultural information is likely to result in uptake of new agricultural practices for adaptation.