Global Resources

Farmers in a changing climate: does gender matter?

Author: Y. Lambrou, S. Nelson
Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Publication Date: Jan 2010
Is there a strong gender dimension to experiences with climate variability and coping strategies? This publication on the topic of food security in Andrha Pradesh, India finds that there is. It is a report on a study carried out by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), with financing from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The research was undertaken in six villages in two drought-prone districts: Mahbudnagar and Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh, India. For the majority of this region’s inhabitants, agriculture is their primary livelihood. Climate change – including rising temperatures and safe water scarcity – poses particular challenges to farmers in this drought-prone area. These combine with other pressures: increasing population (approximately 83 million inhabitants at the time this report was published), declining soil fertility and decreasing genetic diversity of crops, leading to negative impacts food production. This report also describes pre-existing socio-economic vulnerabilities, such as those experienced by smallholder farmers over the past thirty years of changing farming practices, infrastructure and government support. The ‘2007 Human Development Report – Andhra Pradesh’ assigned a poor rating in Mahbubnagar and Anantapur districts regarding gender equality and women’s empowerment. Specific perceptions of changing weather conditions and coping strategies are discussed. This study finds that women and men each play important roles in livelihood diversification, contributing to food security at the household level. Each gender has particular perceptions of and adaptation strategies to threats against their rural livelihoods. There are cases of farmers migrating with whole families, and others where just the husband migrated. Also, men were generally found to migrate farther than women. Gender variability was also observed in decision-making about when and where to migrate, as well as farming decisions. These farmers’ lives are examined in relation to changes in climate variability over the course of a year.