For a Safer Earth, Healthier Climate

HOMEF  Advocates Green Climate Fund For Women Small-Holder Farmers.

By Ruth Tene Natsa, Abuja

The Health of Mother Earth Foundation in collaboration with Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre and Obelle Concerned Citizens (OCC) has called on governments to make available the Green Climate Fund to women smallholder farmers.

The CSOs made the call during a capacity-building meeting on Climate Change, Adaptation, and Mitigation for women drawn from Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers States recently.

The training strengthened the capacity of women to address the impacts of climate change owing to the fact that women face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty and due to existing roles, responsibilities, and cultural norms. Issues of flooding and food insecurity are a woman’s nightmare as they pose grave dangers to her family’s well-being among others

In her remarks, HOMEF’s Director of Programmes, Joyce Brown,urged that the green climate fund should be made available to women small holder farmers, adding that Gender budgeting should be encouraged as It’s all about social inclusion.

She urged that CSOs should intensify their efforts of sensitization and advocacy on climate change mitigation and adaptation especially in rural communities while urging that Women should unite and form critical groups/movements and pressurize the government to carry out needed action.Women should also do individual sensitization for those around

In her interactive facilitation, It was agreed that climate change is no longer a distant threat; it is a reality we face every day with signs such as rising temperatures, irregular rainfall patterns, the loss of biodiversity, more frequent and severe flooding, droughts, etc This session highlighted the deep connection that exists between climate change, extractive and agriculture.

Ms Brown said “Agriculture holds the key to mitigating climate change. Agroecological farming practices, such as agroforestry, crop rotation, and organic farming, can sequester carbon, improve soil health (healthy soils are better able to trap in carbon and are more resilient to climate change impacts) and reduce the extractive industry’s carbon footprint.  Studies have shown that agroecological practices  can remove as much as  40% of carbon from the atmosphere.”

She encouraged women farmers to take the right actions towards agroecology, adopt sustainable farming practices that reduce emissions (introduce tree crops on the farm), preserve biodiversity (practice mixed cropping) and improve soil health (using biofertilisers).

The activists also called on the government to support research and innovation in agroecology to develop more climate-resilient crop varieties and farming techniques in ways that are ecologically and culturally appropriate and sustainable.  Joyce Brown urged the women to join voices and advocate for policies that support agroecology as well as other local innovations which help with resilience to climate change.

Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, Emem Okon, while speaking on the intersection between gender and climate justice emphasized that gender is a social construct representing roles society gives to women that most times deprive women of certain privileges and opportunities leaving them vulnerable while sex is the different biological and physiological characteristics of males and females. These roles usually differ from society to society and end up being discriminatory in response.

She noted that “years of wrong narratives about gender roles has created a mental construct that has resulted in women making decisions that endanger their lives and well-being. Gender is not just about women but as a result of unequal power relations the focus has been on women because women have been sidelined for far too long. Programs, policies and solutions in any sphere or industry should be gender responsive and be bordered by social inclusion”.

Emem Okon established the fact that women are more affected than men when it comes to the impacts of climate change, urging the need for gender disparities in climate conversations to be addressed alongside other marginalized persons in society.

In her statistics, she quoted that 70% of the world’s 33 million refugees are women and children, – 1% of the world’s land is owned by women and girls, – women produce 43% of food in most developing countries, – women account for more than 70% of the poorest people in the world.

HOMEF’s Project Lead on Community and Culture, Cadmus Atake-Enade highlighted the roles and objectives of the Fishnet Alliance and how the network has contributed in helping members adapt and mitigate the challenges associated with climate change.

Participants while sharing their experiences to include Clear and visible health implications such as cancer, stomach-ache,  pollution of groundwater, and loss of vegetative lands among others urged the Nigerian government to seek and invest in clean and sustainable energy sources, execute solutions for proper water channelling to reduce the impacts of flooding, adopt a gender and climate change action plan.

They also called on the government to promote land ownership for women, support agroecology and revive agricultural extension services for smallholder farmers, while ensuring that Monitoring and evaluation policy should be strictly adhered to in programs and projects implementation.

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