Bringing a gender-lens to livestock production

Men and female livestock farmers might be differently affected by climate change, subsequently needing gender-appropriate measures to help them adapt. Photo: Gates Foundation

Edited by Cecilia Schubert

Seeing as men and women many times conduct different agricultural tasks in developing countries, their needs and constraints vary as well. A gender analysis on climate change interventions is something Annuciate Nakiganda, one of our gender grant recipients, is performing at the moment. Conducting her research in Uganda, she is investigating the different effects of climate change on livestock production with a gender-focus, hoping to help enhance the adaptive capacity of men and female livestock farmers through her findings.  

In an interview, Annuciate outlines a scenario which showcases, in a descriptive way, how men and women in Uganda have different divisions of labor, which also affect their food security and livelihood in the long term.

“In Rakai women mainly fetch water, grow and process vegetables, prepare food and also participate in its production. Women mainly feed the zero grazed livestock, look after small livestock and the family.

When there is prolonged drought, water sources like spring well and some bore holes dry up. Women have to move long distances to fetch water even in the night by lining up for water at bore holes for a long time. This undermines their safety and also affects their time to do other activities. Water becomes more expensive as women and men hire people to fetch water or buy it.

When there is drought, vegetables and food crops will not get enough water. This means that many women will not have vegetables to cook and sell, which will affect the nutrition of their families and the income they get from selling vegetables. When crops fail and there is no food the men start buying food from the market. Drought leads to feed and water scarcity for livestock, which leads women to spend more time in communal areas collecting grass for the zero grazed animals.

Men who graze animals move long distances looking for water and pastures around the lake. They also mainly grow cash crops, fish and process timber, they also graze and water cattle. Cash crops like coffee get affected during drought, which affects men’s source of income.”

The weather has become unpredictable in Uganda, with an increase in mean annual temperatures by 1.3 Celsius, and reduced annual rainfall. This year, Annuciate explains, "Lake Kijanabalora flooded during the dry season (January – February 2012). This led to floods in farmers’ garden, recreation ground, and cutting off roads. Unpredictable weather patterns may in the future, affect the role of men and women."

There are several ways male and female livestock farmers can be empowered though. In her interview, Annuciate points to several actions, which can help farmers overcome the challenges they are facing by an unpredictable climate:

  • Prepare for the difficult periods of drought, by both conserving food and feed during the period of plenty (rainy season);
  • Plant drought tolerant and early maturing crops and forages;
  • Harvest and conserve water during periods of plenty for use during drought;
  • Listen to weather forecasts and follow advice;
  • Conserve the environment and plant more trees.

Annuciate recently finalized her technical report, which showcases the progress and structure of her research project Enhancing the Adaptive Capacity of Men and Women Livestock Farmers to the Effects of climate change in Uganda.” (PDF)

This blog post was based on an interview made by Science Officer Moushumi Chaudhury with gender grant recipient Annuciate Nakiganda. Cecilia Schubert works as a communications assistant. Are you interested in gender, climate change, agriculture and food security? Read more gender-related blog posts here on our blog. To get more updates on our gender research, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @Cgiarclimate.