Gendered vulnerability in Irrigated Agriculture in the Context of Climate Change: A case study of Labdu Dikure Shera Irrigation system in Nuwakot District (2017)

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Climate change has been a proven fact with increase in temperature and rainfall variability. The impacts of climate change are not homogeneous within a society, it varies from person to person, i.e. it has differentiated social impacts based on gender, age, disability, ethnicity, geographical location, as these parameters determines the coping capacity and capability. As women and men play significantly different roles the impact of climate change on various gender social groups varies. For instance, in patriarchal social structure of Nepal, men are involved in decision making and women mostly do the labor work including care services for household. The differential role men and women play in day to day life determines different level of access to resources and decision making power that is crucial to cope with climatic stressors. Understanding differentiated impact and adaption strategies are important to tackle climate change problem. This study analyses gendered impacts and responses to climatic stressor in irrigated agriculture scenario in rural communes in Nuwakot District a part of Province No. 3, one of the seventy-five districts of Nepal. This research assesses the impact of climate change in agriculture and livelihoods of people in Labdu Dikure Shera Irrigation System. The study is carried out inspired by participatory research methods and qualitative research tools. Data collection tools, such as face to face formal and informal interviews, focus group discussion, case studies and field observation. Checklist in form of open ended questionnaire are used n later part of the study to quantify some of the qualitative parameters on gendered understanding on climate change.

This study found both men and women perceive climate change as a serious threat to agriculture operations. Respondents perceived temperature is increasing, Also, reported mean annual rainfall is increasing, where pre-monsoon, monsoon, postmonsoon is increasing respectively while winter rain is decreasing. There is shift is monsoon. Decreasing winter rain has serious impact on farming as well as water availability in the system. This problem has been further multiplied with poor governance on water distribution, because of which branch number 8, 9 and 10 tail end branches out of 10 total branches never received water including in rainy season. Change in cropping season is unaltered in head end as irrigation water fulfills water stress created by rainfall variability. Though, head end farmers reported that the time to grow rice has not changed, there is remarkable difference on time of harvesting. They assume it is because of increase in temperature. However tail enders who relies on rainfall had shifted the time of cultivation of paddy during monsoon. In addition, decreased productivity may be because of flash rainfall during pollination, flowering. Climatic hazards like water logging, flooding along the river side are caused due to intense rainfall during May/ June affecting summer crops, as well as threatening occurrence of flood in command area as the irrigation canal acted as drainage canal collecting water from upstream of watershed. Also, increased temperature with less or no rainfall in February-April caused dry spell problem affecting summer crops and available drinking water sources. Increase occurrence of diseases and pest including in millet is reported as surprises by the respondents.

These climatic stressors have different effect on women and men situated in different stretches of irrigation system. The differential gender effect is determined by the availability of water supply in the system, demographic changes such as male absenteeism, exposure to use of chemicals to cope with occurrence of disease and pest; and gender norms, values and knowledge. Intensive use of pesticide is observed, where women’s engagement is increasing due to increased male migration from the study area. With lack of enough knowledge on risk of intensive use of chemicals, women farmers are found to be using the chemical in interval closer than the recommended. Drying of drinking water source has increased women’s drudgery by increasing time of collecting drinking water. Climate change is affecting human beings differently, influencing their priorities and adaptation strategies for coping with the challenges. In addition to stress caused on farming due to climatic stressor, the socioeconomic stressors such as government policy of manure supply and other accessories, alternate work opportunities, and increase cost of farming have caused farmers to divert from farming to non-farming activities. People with lesser hope in farming have changed their livelihoods like going abroad for earning. Thus, along with climate change impacts on farming, food distribution policy and changed livelihood sources has affected the farming side by side.

Year: 2017
Language: English
Page: 94
Thesis note: Thesis (M. Sc.) - Pokhara University, Nepal Engineering College, Bhaktapur, Nepal

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