Addressing gender and social inequality

N. Palmer (CIAT)

Testing tools: assessing the use of participatory vulnerability analysis

Latin America

To develop good climate change adaptation programs, it’s important to understand the vulnerability of communities. Participatory approaches, where community members actively work with researchers to share insights and knowledge, are increasingly being used by CCAFS partners. However, to make sure tools for participatory vulnerability analysis capture the information needed for effective climate change adaptation plans, and do so in a way that captures the differing perspectives of men and women, a new toolkit was tested with a rural Colombian community.

The toolkit, developed by Bioversity International and the Institute for Development Studies (UK), was designed to gather information about social and ecological characteristics, daily impacts of climate change, well-being and food security, livelihood strategies and changes in farming practices. The results obtained were then compared with those from CCAFS’ household level surveys —designed to gather baseline information to characterise rural families and tested in the same Colombian community in Chicamocha canyon of the Colombian Andes.

Under the CCAFS program, Bioversity International carried out a workshop to test the toolkit with the help of Fundación Conserva who have been working in the area since 2004. Participants drew maps to capture the main physical, natural resource and climatic risks to their community’s economic well-being. Men and women were split into separate groups to see how gender affected their views.

A new approach to gathering data from communities will be used to develop solutions and adaptation plans for men, women and the most vulnerable

A new approach to gathering data from communities will be used to develop solutions and adaptation plans for men, women and the most vulnerable. M.Beltran (Bioversity International)

Everyone agreed that water scarcity, and its impact on food production, was the main livelihood challenge. The process, however, revealed important differences between men and women about the consequences of poor harvests: women were concerned about there being insufficient food to feed their families while men worried about the effects on household income. This resulted in different adaptation strategies for men and women: men will want to adopt more drought-resistant and profitable crop varieties, while women are likely to want to find ways to optimize water usage in home gardens.

Both the toolkit and household level surveys identified the importance of water scarcity, but the participatory tools provided space to reflect on its causes and consequences for men and women. In this case, participants revealed the recent history of deforestation and concluded that restoring streams was necessary to help to recover water sources.

The tests showed the value of talking to men and women, and doing so in a participatory way, and yielded a number of practical lessons about how to implement the vulnerability analysis toolkit.