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Gender and Social Equity in Climate Change Adaptation in the Koshi Basin: An Analysis for Action

  • Khadka, M.
  • Rasul, G.
  • Bennett, L.
  • Wahid, S.
  • Gerlitz, J.-Y.
  • Summary

The impact of climate change is disproportionately higher on women, the poor, and socially disadvantaged groups. Yet, existing adaptation approaches and perspectives pay little attention to the special needs of these groups. Based on primary and secondary information collected from Nepal’s Koshi Basin, this paper looks at differences in levels of multidimensional poverty between different social groups and tries to assess how these differences shape their respective capacities to adapt to climate change. It examines some of the challenges and constraints these different groups face in the adaptation process and the strategies they use to cope and adapt. Analysis reveals that women and marginalized social groups, especially Dalits and Muslims, experience deeper levels of multidimensional poverty and that, in turn, constrains their ability to adapt to climate change. Rural women are relatively more vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change than men due to the complex socioeconomic, institutional norms and gender roles/relations that determine their access to and control over the physical, economic, human, and social resources required for adaptation. The results suggest that an interdisciplinary approach to climate change adaptation is needed that recognizes and addresses the special needs, roles, and constraints of women and disadvantaged groups. The organizational and policy processes as well as the capacity of women and disadvantaged groups needs to be enhanced to achieve better results or positive impacts of adaptation planning and implementation. A broader governance framework is suggested that would enhance the capacity of women and disadvantaged groups to respond proactively to climate change while at the same time working to change unequal power relations, institutions, and processes that have made these groups more vulnerable.

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