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Annabella Abongwa Ngenwi: Climate change and adaptation strategies: lessons from women’s indigenous knowledge practices
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Annabella Abongwa Ngenwi: Climate change and adaptation strategies: lessons from women’s indigenous knowledge practices


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  • 1. Climate change and adaptation strategies: Lessons from women’s indigenous knowledge practices
    NgenwiAnnabella Abongwa
    Institute of Agricultural Research for Development (IRAD) Ekona, Cameroon
  • 2. Outline
  • 3. Introduction
    Women make up almost 80% of the agricultural work force in the tropics, and are increasingly vulnerable to climate change
    Seventy percent (70%) of the 1.3 billion people in the developing world living below poverty level are women
    Generally, rural women do not own land; have limited or no rights regarding the management of natural resources, despite often working in the fields
  • 4. Introduction(2)
    Although these disadvantages characterize the rural woman, she has learned to adapt to climate variability and change
    Her adaptation over time is through indigenous knowledge practices
    These adaptations have undergone modifications through trial and error
  • 5. What is indigenous knowledge?
    Otto (2008) defines indigenous or local knowledge as knowledge outside the formal scientific domain, held by local people in a specific geographic area
    Local populations develop intimate knowledge on a wide array of topics ranging from environmental, bio-physical, economic and social issues to spiritual knowledge
    Because of the use of local knowledge in decision-making, it is considered a vital resource for climate change adaptations
  • 6. Why the emphasis on women and local knowledge practices?
    We believe that numerous successful projects on rural development and climate change adaptations that targeted women should provide necessary information to guide meaningful adaptations by men and women
    Alternatively, what lessons can we extract from women’s indigenous knowledge practices that will guide future decisions on adaptations to climate change?
  • 7. Objectives
    To compile adaptation strategies to climate variability and change employed by women;
    To identify constraints to effective adaptation, and
    To identify strengths in women’s indigenous knowledge practices that could be re-inforced to increase adaptation to climate change at local and regional levels
  • 8. Methodology
    We reviewed literature on climate change adaptation projects in Africa
    We compiled adaptations and related constraints encountered by women
    We synthesized factors that were responsible for successful adaptations to climate change practiced by women and called them lessons
  • 9. Results
    Adaptations to climate change
    Alteration of planting dates
    Alternative sources of energy in place of firewood for cooking
    Mixed farming
    Storage of surplus harvest
    Crop diversification
    Trade labour for other goods and services
    Engagement in off-farm income generating activities
  • 10. Constraints to effective adaptation to climate change
    Limited access to resources: land, livestock, tools and credit;
    Lack of information and access to information;
    Limited mobility – even though migration is a coping mechanism often used by men. In Niger for example, rural women are not allowed to move outside their villages (UNDP, 2010);
    Limited roles in decision-making;
    Much time spent in search of firewood and water:
  • 11. The woman and the girl child spend much time searching for water;
    The girl child has limited time for education or does not go to school at all.
    Source: Agwu, and Okhimamhe (2009)
  • 12. Lessons from local adaptation practices
    Extensive knowledge of communities: women are more knowledgeable of their communities than their male counterparts. This knowledge could be exploited in designing adaptation strategies
    Social networking: Dissemination of appropriate strategies is based on efficient networking systems, which women are credited for having. Weekly meeting groups and gatherings are common avenues for this exchange
  • 13. Lessons from local adaptation practices (2)
    Caring abilities: Storage of food, separation of food from planting material are all practices that characterize the rural woman.
    The storage of surpluses is an effective measure to guard against risk that the woman can undertake against future livelihood failures. Mobilization and formation of village or community cereal banks (CCBs) for example for food security and other benefits associated with banking food are important measures of adaptation.
  • 14. Storage of grains
    “ Provided with sufficient funds and training, women can improve on their storage facilities”
  • 15. Conclusion
    Lessons can be drawn from specific attributes of local practices which include good social networking and sharing of new ideas, community participation, caring abilities and high level of risk awareness.
    Constraints to effective adaptation are limited financial support, limited involvement in decision-making and religious/cultural barriers.
    For effective adaptation to climate change, women need to be supported so as to enable them become active participants in developing and designing adaptation strategies which will benefit both men and women
  • 16. THANK YOU
    “ we can contribute and make a difference towards effective adaptations to climate change’
    Source: Adeline Aubry