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"We Know What We Need!" South Asian Women Speak Out On Climate Change Adaptation

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K. Lussier
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Poor women in Bangladesh, India and Nepal are struggling to protect their lives, homes, assets and livelihoods from weather-related hazards caused by climate change. Nevertheless, women are not passive victims of climate change. This report presents field research conducted in the Ganga river basin in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, with poor women in rural areas. Participatory research tools were used to explore: the impact of changing monsoon and flooding patterns on their livelihoods; existing coping strategies; constraints to adaptation; and adaptation priorities (i.e. what the women themselves feel they need order to better adapt to the floods). Despite limited resources, information and support, evidence from this research proves that women in poor areas are already adapting to a changing climate and can clearly articulate what they need in order to secure and sustain their livelihoods more effectively. Their priorities include a safe place to live and store their harvest and livestock during the monsoon season; better access to services such as agricultural extension; training and information about adaptation strategies and livelihood alternatives; and access to resources to implement effective strategies and overcome constraints. This paper also makes recommendations for adaptation fund processes to proactively prioritise the needs of poor women. These include monitoring how women are targeted by, and benefit from, adaptation funds; and ensuring states provide an enabling environment for women's participation through legislation and institutional practices that guarantee women's rights are fulfilled.