Tracing my footsteps after the SMHI/SIDA training

I attended the SMHI/SIDA training in climate change adaptation and mitigation in 2011 February-March intake, conducted my individual project on gendered impacts of climate change on communities living around protected areas in Uganda and presented my final report in Shanghai China in November 2011.

At CARE International in Uganda, where I worked when I attended the SMHI/SIDA training program, I had been an advisor for gender on a natural resources management and governance programme and a focal point person for climate change and DRR. I had done short term (one week trainings) on climate change, had gone through climate change capacity and vulnerability assessment tools and had some understanding on working with climate change and DRR in programming. However I had not linked the gender knowledge to climate change in practice.

The requirement by SMHI to develop an individual project got me thinking of the nexus between gender and climate change. My individual project work generated very interesting findings on how climate change impacts can strain gender relations and impact negatively on men and women. The impacts range from domestic violence, men abandoning homes in times of stress, increased workload for women and girls, as well as increased poverty for men and women among others.

The training methods used by SMHI were novel in terms of using different experts all over the globe, field visits, individual projects, attaching an SMHI supervisor for guidance and involving participants organisations in supporting the project. This was very empowering and fostered more learning than just classroom courses that end at lectures.

After the course, I immediately got hired by World Vision to work as the national capacity building and advocacy coordinator on the Africa Climate Change Resilience Alliance (ACCRA), a consortium of CARE, OXFAM, World Vision, Save the Children and Overseas Development Institute (ODI), operational in Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique. My training at SMHI contributed to this career move because I was now more knowledgeable on climate change issues on a wider perspective – national, regional and global, which the course exposed me to. My decision to move was sparked by my renewed interest in focusing on climate change and my programme was natural resource related with little priority on climate change and I had done five years, which I felt were good for me to move on.

However, what important to share is the way my individual project lessons continues to inform my current work, which is purely climate change and DRR related. I have experienced cases where my expertise in gender has paid off with climate change adaptation and DRR interventions. ACCRA works with the Ministry of water and environment in Uganda to translate the seasonal weather forecast in Local languages and disseminate to local communities.  When I joined the programme, dissemination had been done using FM radio stations. I participated in assessing the impact of the forecast and as I designed tools for data collection, I ensured gender issues are incorporated in the access to information. The findings revealed that 82% of the women missed the forecasts because they don’t own radios, or if they do, their gender roles do not allow them to listen to the programmes because the timing is wrong. Another section of the women had no control over what is listened to because radios belonged to men who prefer politics, or some men were polygamous and moved with their radios. Findings on gender roles in agriculture revealed that women and children were responsible for all the initial farming, weeding, harvesting and storage activities, the men came in at marketing and selling the produce as well as planning for the funds. This implied that women were key users of the forecasts. The findings helped the programme to review and consult communities especially women to suggest other channels convenient for them. To date many channels are being used and we have gone ahead to develop a dissemination strategy favourable for all.

Tracy in Nairobi

The other contribution to the programme has been through review of programme tools to make them gender sensitive. ACCRA conducted a research 2009-2011 and came up with the Local Adaptive Capacity (LAC) framework which can be accessed here. The frame work focused on 5 characteristics, (asset base, flexible and forward looking decision making, institutions and entitlements, knowledge and information and  innovation)  gender was not considered in these characteristics yet ownership and control of assets, access to information, decision making and representation in different institutions are difficult for women world over. I have supported the integration of gender issues in the framework and have supported ACCRA partners in Uganda and Ethiopia to integrate gender in the framework. The capacity and vulnerability assessments have also been complemented with gender analysis tools to capture key capacities and vulnerabilities of men and women, boys and girls. I have also documented blogs on gender and adaptation which can be accessed here.

ACCRA is working on its long term programme approach and gender has been highlighted as key in the theory of change, focusing on working towards transformative change. The programme is now committed to integrating gender in all programme components including research to ensure that issues of women and men, boys and girls are addressed in climate change adaptation interventions.

This process reveals that training and capacity building if done right can cause change at individual and organisation level, benefitting vulnerable communities where impact is measured. My appreciation to SIDA and SMHI for the training opportunity accorded me.

Tracy C. Kajumba

Africa Climate Change resilience Alliance
World Vision

Skype: tracy.kajumba