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Climate Change, Gender and Livelihoods in Limpopo Province

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K. Banda
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An analysis of the gender impacts of climate change can help us understand how different groups in society, even at the most micro-level, are differentially at risk from threats to their livelihoods. A gender analysis can also inform possible solutions for better protecting men and women against these potential impacts. This paper maps some of the impacts of climate change in the Bohlabela district of Limpopo province in South Africa, while also assessing local knowledge on climate change adaptation in terms of food security and livelihoods. The study revealed that the rural community of Bohlabela places great emphasis on growing maize and vegetables, but that adverse climatic conditions have seriously affected agricultural production - for example, in 2003 South Africa received the lowest rainfall in 88 years. The study found that these changes are more likely to affect women than men as they spend much more of their income on food purchases. It could also mean they have to spend more time gathering food. However, the study revealed a significant amount of local knowledge of other natural edible plants, including fruit and leafy vegetables, which could provide an alternative food source. Potential was also seen in promoting home gardens as part of rural planning and development strategies. Women's knowledge of these local plants is extremely important in the development of local resource management systems. They could also play a key role in cultivating and conserving these local plant varieties, because home gardens would be within easy reach.

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