SOURCE: Observer

Women and girls, especially those in rural communities, continue to face the brunt of climate change that worsens pre-existing inequalities, and jeopardizes their food security and feeds instability and migration, the United Nations World Food Program has warned on International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day 2022 focuses on “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” recognizing the contribution of women and girls around the world who play a crucial role in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Women and girls often lack appropriate access to early warning and disaster information, financial services and participation in community decision-making and resource allocation. Such inequalities undermine the ability of women to prepare for, cope with and recover from climate shocks and stresses.

“Women are the bedrock of food security and yet are hardest hit by climate shocks and food insecurity,” said WFP’s Assistant Executive Director, Valerie Guarnieri. “A sustainable future is only possible when women and girls have what they need to adapt to the changing climate.”

In Liberia, the Joint Program on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women (JP-RWEE) project is the flagship joint UN effort for the transformation of the lives of rural women. 

Through the application of results-based programmatic approaches that enhance synergies, create opportunities, and promote income generation, food security, and relative self-reliance, WFP, FAO, and UNWOMEN help to transform the lives of rural women and a handful of their male counterparts.

The JP-RWEE project provided capacity-building training for 14,762 beneficiaries (13,074 women and 1,688 men) in food processing and storage, using innovative, productivity-enhancing, and culturally sensitive technologies for strengthening women and men beneficiaries’ productive capacities including the use of agricultural technologies, improved crop planting, harvesting, preservation and packaging, nutrition-sensitive, and climate-smart agriculture.

In Luwein, Grand Bassa County, climate-smart agriculture and Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) schemes are innovative, productive ventures that the Wellekama Rural Women Group are turning to as sustainable sources of livelihoods. “We’re standing just like women now. We’re not waiting for men to support us. We’re sending our children to school and providing food in the houses,” said the group’s Chairlady, Yatta Binta.

The program has enhanced the group’s capacity to adapt and be more resilient to climate change by providing technical support in setting up irrigation systems in the swamps where flooding had once been a problem during seasons of heavy rains and lack of water during prolonged periods of high temperatures.  

The cooperative also received pest control chemicals and benefited from training on how to properly layout their plots during cultivation, as well as how to process, package, and store their yields in a warehouse that was recently built just minutes from their farm.

Yatta: “We are working seriously. This year, we planted bitter balls, pepper, potatoes, okras, and eddoes for food and sold the surplus.  The improved rice seed is good, it has only been three months since we planted the rice and today, we started cutting our rice. Through the VSLA, people can save money to buy personal effects and so we work side by side unlike before.” 

In a year when humanitarian needs are on an upward trend and aid agencies are stretched thin, supporting communities vulnerable to the harsh realities of the climate crisis is the need of the hour.

The United Nations World Food Program is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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