Monday, October 11, 2010

Women's Agenda, Pillar No.6: Environment

Background to the Thematic Pillar: Environment

In Uganda today pressures on water, environment and natural resources due to weather and climate change variability, are intensifying and provide increasing challenges for service delivery. The effects of poor land use practices, ecosystems degradation and inadequate enforcement on compliance, has led to declining water levels as well as the drying and pollution of water resources. Population pressure due to high growth rates has resulted in environmental degradation through the massive encroachment on forests, wet lands and other fragile ecosystems for cultivation, grazing and habitation, as well as the poor disposal of solid and liquid waste. This has triggered off multiple social, economic, political and environmental effects, thus affecting women who are the largest users of land .

Government has put in place elaborate environmental laws, regulations and standards to guide the management of environmental resources. However, the level of compliance is still very low, leading to the misuse and degradation of the environment. Furthermore the environmental mainstreaming measures in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and Local Governments, are weak due to among other things lack of institutional capacity and funding.

6.2 Key Priorities Within the Thematic Pillar: Environment

The Impact of Environment degradation on women

Women play a critical role in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound management systems, for the environment and natural resources. They engage with the environment for: sources of energy, materials for building family shelters, sources of water and subsistence living, mainly through agriculture and herding. Thus in almost all communities those at risk and affected more severely during all phases of natural disasters are women. Disaster, economic and conflict induced displacement have devastating impacts on women, who are forced to leave their communities as they migrate internally in search of shelter and livelihood, thus exposing themselves to various forms of danger.

The impact of Climate Change on women

Global warming, climate change and the inter-related impacts that they bring about, take a heavy toll on communities with the devastation of crops caused by climatic events such as: changing patterns of rainfall, floods, landslides and drought. Women being the primary caretakers of the family, are often the first to become aware of environmental changes, as resources become scarce, affecting their means of livelihood and the very sustenance of their families. Due to their increased likelihood of living in poverty and their gendered social roles, women are more likely than men, to die in climate change-related disasters and to suffer from increased workload, the burden of fuel and water collection, violence, health problems and the loss of income in the aftermath of such events.

The critical role women play in utilising and managing the environment and natural resources, must be recognised and integrated in all strategies for addressing issues of the environment. Women must be involved in the planning and implementation of environmental conservation programmes and their voices should be heard and integrated in policy making at all levels.

The Change We Want to See

1. Greater participation of women at all levels, in the planning, management and preservation of the environment and the sustainable use of natural resources

2. Well resourced, timely and gender responsive disaster management interventions

3. Increased investment in research on alternative and renewable energy sources and other appropriate technologies, while facilitating women’s access to and participation in their control

4. Mechanisms established and effective communication strategies developed for women and communities on issues of climate change and the environment

5. Set targets for women’s groups to benefit from Carbon Credits and facilitation of their participation through training, allocation of land and resources

6. Protection of water sources from private ownership for public good and restriction on the leasing of sections of water bodies, which makes them inaccessible to the people, particularly women

7. Investment in the preparation of communities for disaster and the provision of disaster management interventions that are well resourced, timely and responsive to the specific needs of women.

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