Climate change: Beyond coping. Women smallholder farmers in Tajikistan | Food Security | Agriculture

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Climate change is affecting agriculture across Tajikistan and threatening the food security of thousands of people who depend on small-scale subsistence farming for their survival. Intense droughts, extensive flooding and increased frequency of weather-related shocks are becoming more apparent, and hitting poor people hardest. In Tajikistan, it is women who will most likely bear the brunt of this insecurity as they are increasingly responsible for securing an income from farming and providing for their families. As men often migrate to find work aboard, women are reliant on the small household plots for their year-round food source. However, they are often at the mercy of stresses that climate change will place on their natural resources, and face rising prices for staples, such as wheat or sugar. As the impacts of climate change intensify, women farmers are at higher risk of losing their livelihoods, pushing them deeper in poverty. Against this background there is a need to recognize and support the central role that women smallholder farmers play in the food economy. This report looks at climate change through the eyes of women farmers in Tajikistan. It examines the critical role that women can play in food security and in mitigating and adapting to climate change. As part of an ongoing climate change campaign, it makes recommendations on what needs to happen in order to secure a sustainable food economy in the country.
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  CLIMATE CHANGE: BEYOND COPING Women smallholder farmers in Tajikistan Experiences of climate change and adaptationOxfam Field Research June 2011  Executive Summary and Recommendations ................................................................................3Introduction: Climate Change impacts on Society........................................................................7 Part 1- Gender and climate change issues in Tajikistan...................................................................8Part 2- Insights from the field – women’s narratives and perspectives.............................................14Part 3- “We are part of the solutions”! How women are responding to climate change...................22Part 4 -Investment Imperatives and Alternatives...........................................................................27 Concluding remarks.....................................................................................................................33Recommendations from the field…………………………………………......................................34Select references…………………………………………………………………………………........38Annexes……………………………………………………………………………………................39 Table of contents 2  Executive Summary 3 Evidence from scientic research and from  previous qualitative research into the experiences of farmers in Tajikistan makes it clear that climate change is already impacting the country and the lives of people from rural Tajikistan. As climate change strikes with increasing frequency, ferocity and in different forms, we are witnessing patterns and evidence that show time and time again that there are important differences in the gendered roles that rural men and women assume in these situations.  Appreciating and supporting   these roles can be the deciding factor as to whether rural adaptation or mitigation is an efcient use or a waste of resources, and whether community responses are reactive or proactive, spontaneous or planned, sustainable or unsustainable. This report expands on these points further through the eyes of women farmers in Tajikistan. The reports key ndings and recommendations for action not only focus on the current and future climate change impacts and needs of women farmers in Tajikistan but also on wider food security, water and energy needs and the future of a sustainable food economy in the country.This report draws on a sample of women farmer perspectives on climate change gathered over a period of three weeks in early 2011 through a combination of guided group discussions, survey responses and interviews. The eld research conducted with women’s farming groups in three regions (Annex 1) of the country provides a portrait of the inter-connectedness of climate-related realities and impacts that rural women are facing in Tajikistan. The study is divided into four main sections that analyze: (I) the context and background of gender issues in relation to experiences of climate change in Tajikistan; (II) What women smallholder farmers say; (III) How smallholders are coping and can be further supported; (IV) Conclusions and recommendations. The research ndings are supplemented by a literature review (Annex 2).  4 Key Findings ã There is a widespread view amongst smallholder farmers that climatic patterns are becoming more unpredictable and that this is making planting decisions a riskier undertaking than ever before.ã Women farmers interviewed listed their access priorities as water, energy, seeds and information on agriculture and climate. This reects the workload of rural women – in securing water, energy and food resources for the household.ã Women headed households are frequently amongst the poorest in rural areas – and often have very limited capacity to cope with or recover from weather-related losses.ã Agricultural practice has placed eco-systems under immense stress. ã Unrestrained exploitation of land in this region since the 1950s, compounded by climatic stress in the form of droughts, has compromised the productivity of this otherwise bio-diverse rich area. ã Large scale monoculture (single crop) plantations, the diversion of unprecedented amounts of water to feed these plantations and the overuse of chemical fertilizers and  pesticides have left soils exhausted and exposed.ã The dominant socio-economic features highlighted by recent research consist of:- the out-migration of able-bodied men;- the high numbers and particular vulnerabilities of female-headed households in rural areas;- the heavy reliance on small scale farming by rural people for their basic food needs in the face of neglible formal support;- the triple burden for rural women and women farmers in Tajikistan, where they must work for income, care for their community and family, and grow food for their own consumption.ã Two main trends are discernible in the farming sector in Tajikistan. First is the growing feminization of agricultural labour on Dehkan 1  farms; the second is the profound role that women play in local food security,  particularly where rural diets are concerned as food farming has become de facto their main independent production activity and mode of survival. The small household plots that women grow on are the mainstay of their year-round food source 2 . As farmers, they are at the mercy of stresses that climate change will place on the natural resources that they draw from. As consumers, they face rising prices for staples such as wheat or sugar.ã At the policy level, while there is some acknowledgement by senior ofcials of gender differentials and the importance of engaging with women, in practice - there is limited interest in or understanding of gender differentials in rural livelihoods, in food  production or in the context of climate change  policies;- current climate investment attention is focused on capital-intensive mega-projects such as hydro dams and the refurbishment of meteorological stations, and as a result climate change implications for the rural poor, and women in particular, have been given a much lower priority
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