Climate change and its impact on women

16. 12. 01

Lesotho is one of the countries that are adversely affected by the consequences of the ubiquitous natural phenomenon that is climate change regardless of how it contributes towards it. The effects of the phenomenon are in various realms and dimensions including socio-economic consequences. Just like in the bigger picture, the rural placed populace, especially women seem to be feeling the pinch the most although they may not even be aware what it is that is changing their lives for the worse.

Countless women in Lesotho especially in the rural areas are affected most by climate change in their social and economic life. This is because they mostly depend on mother nature for most of their daily lives activities such as water and energy sources.

‘Mamolisa Phateli is a single mother living in the Peka Halepapa commune in the Leribe district about 70km north easterly of the capital Maseru. She says for most of her life, she has reliably depended on natural sources to meet her daily life requisites including energy and water. However, as a result of the El-Nino-induced drought which hit the Southern hemisphere from end of last year (2015) well into the first quarter of this year, things have not been as before. Life has been difficult.

The 34 year old admits that unlike most of her life, since last year she has to spend more hours each day hauling water from afar for her family to drink and wash, as well as for their crops because most of their reliable water springs, wells and other sources have dried up, thus forcing them to resort to rather distant and shabbily placed sources.

“When wells go dry, most of women in our village are forced to walk farther in search of water sources. Lately we have had no options but to fetch not-so-clean water from the Caledon River. Most women are poor do not get a home supply, increasing their reliance on erratic government-run water tankers that are currently reeling under the effects of a severe drought, resulting in an acute drinking water shortage and agricultural distress ”,Phateli said.

Another dimension of their village life is the issue of firewood collection for household-energy production. In recent years, they have begun to notice the effects of deforestation around their homes, including a deterioration of soil conditions.

“Our lives are in danger due to lack of sufficient forests around the village so we have to cross the river to fetch wood from the nearest farm, which is on the other side of the border and not exactly very near here.

Phateli urged government to work harder to ensure that energy means and clean water are readily accessible and available to women especially who live in the rural areas, she further urged the government to include women in drawing up policies because if they are the ones affected most, it is only sensible to include them as part of the solution to their pandemonium.

Apart from economic and social consequences, doctors are discovering an alarming impact of the water crisis on women’s health, both mental and physical. Whether it is the physical stress of collecting water from tankers in dozens of buckets daily, or the emotional stress of managing with very little water or maintaining menstrual hygiene in times of acute water scarcity, it is a tough haul for the ladies.

“High temperate can cause high flow during the menstruation cycle, while pregnant woman can suffer early labour-related issues and heart rush to the children.

“Surely, women must have forums to voice their needs and demands, and inform on how the havoc of climate change affects their lives. Women should be the part of the solution, by being involved in policy engagement, formulation, discussion and initiatives on climate change,” says Dr Makhetha Mosotho a local surgeon and general physician. 

Meanwhile, in an interview with Finite Magazine, Mosuoe Letuma, Principal Meteorologist at the Ministry of Energy and Meteorology, said women are the ones who suffer most when it comes to health, security and agriculture.

“Many women in the rural areas must adapt their lives to a changing climate. Changing climates also affect the health of crops and livestock, and women, who are often responsible for producing the food eaten at home, must work harder for less food”, Letuma maintains adding: “in rural areas, women are actively engaged in agricultural activities which are both affected by changing weather patterns and deficits of water. Loss of livelihood increases women’s vulnerability and marginalisation. However, the impacts of a water crisis can be minimized by empowering women with requisite knowledge of their rights, relevant information and vocational skills”.

He says that more women are included in planning and implementation, the output becomes more successful, since women are the ones who are very much involved in agriculture, food security, water, energy.

“They're the ones who are cutting trees and cooking at home."

Lesotho is one of the countries that are adversely affected by the consequences of the ubiquitous natural phenomenon that is climate change regardless of how it contributes towards it. The effects of the phenomenon are in various realms and dimensions including socio-economic consequences. Just like in the bigger picture, the rural placed populace, especially women seem to be feeling the pinch the most although they may not even be aware what it is that is changing their lives for the worse.

Countless women in Lesotho especially in the rural areas are affected most by climate change in their social and economic life. This is because they mostly depend on mother nature for most of their daily lives activities such as water and energy sources.

‘Mamolisa Phateli is a single mother living in the Peka Halepapa commune in the Leribe district about 70km north easterly of the capital Maseru. She says for most of her life, she has reliably depended on natural sources to meet her daily life requisites including energy and water. However, as a result of the El-Nino-induced drought which hit the Southern hemisphere from end of last year (2015) well into the first quarter of this year, things have not been as before. Life has been difficult.

The 34 year old admits that unlike most of her life, since last year she has to spend more hours each day hauling water from afar for her family to drink and wash, as well as for their crops because most of their reliable water springs, wells and other sources have dried up, thus forcing them to resort to rather distant and shabbily placed sources.

“When wells go dry, most of women in our village are forced to walk farther in search of water sources. Lately we have had no options but to fetch not-so-clean water from the Caledon River. Most women are poor do not get a home supply, increasing their reliance on erratic government-run water tankers that are currently reeling under the effects of a severe drought, resulting in an acute drinking water shortage and agricultural distress ”,Phateli said.

Another dimension of their village life is the issue of firewood collection for household-energy production. In recent years, they have begun to notice the effects of deforestation around their homes, including a deterioration of soil conditions.

“Our lives are in danger due to lack of sufficient forests around the village so we have to cross the river to fetch wood from the nearest farm, which is on the other side of the border and not exactly very near here.

Phateli urged government to work harder to ensure that energy means and clean water are readily accessible and available to women especially who live in the rural areas, she further urged the government to include women in drawing up policies because if they are the ones affected most, it is only sensible to include them as part of the solution to their pandemonium.

Apart from economic and social consequences, doctors are discovering an alarming impact of the water crisis on women’s health, both mental and physical. Whether it is the physical stress of collecting water from tankers in dozens of buckets daily, or the emotional stress of managing with very little water or maintaining menstrual hygiene in times of acute water scarcity, it is a tough haul for the ladies.

“High temperate can cause high flow during the menstruation cycle, while pregnant woman can suffer early labour-related issues and heart rush to the children.

“Surely, women must have forums to voice their needs and demands, and inform on how the havoc of climate change affects their lives. Women should be the part of the solution, by being involved in policy engagement, formulation, discussion and initiatives on climate change,” says Dr Makhetha Mosotho a local surgeon and general physician. 

Meanwhile, in an interview with Finite Magazine, Mosuoe Letuma, Principal Meteorologist at the Ministry of Energy and Meteorology, said women are the ones who suffer most when it comes to health, security and agriculture.

“Many women in the rural areas must adapt their lives to a changing climate. Changing climates also affect the health of crops and livestock, and women, who are often responsible for producing the food eaten at home, must work harder for less food”, Letuma maintains adding: “in rural areas, women are actively engaged in agricultural activities which are both affected by changing weather patterns and deficits of water. Loss of livelihood increases women’s vulnerability and marginalisation. However, the impacts of a water crisis can be minimized by empowering women with requisite knowledge of their rights, relevant information and vocational skills”.

He says that more women are included in planning and implementation, the output becomes more successful, since women are the ones who are very much involved in agriculture, food security, water, energy.

“They're the ones who are cutting trees and cooking at home."

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