Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change on Water Access and the Lives of Women in Tharparkar District, Sindh Province, Pakistan: A Literature Review, 1990-2018
This report assesses how and why women in poor, rural communities in Tharparkar District, Sindh Province, Pakistan are disproportionately impacted by and must adapt to climate change, and how the effects on these women can be mitigated. It attempts to identify the factors causing women’s vulnerability to climate change, examine how the combination of factors compounds women’s degree of vulnerability, and suggest gender-sensitive policies to reduce women’s vulnerability to climate change in Tharparkar District. Women are disproportionately impacted by climate change and related natural disasters because of their involvement in farming activities, burden of responsibilities at home, and disadvantaged position within society. Women comprise the majority of the agricultural labor force in Tharparkar District, but are underpaid, undervalued, and overworked. Decreased water availability due to climate change affects women working in agriculture. Drought, saline water intrusion, and unpredictable rainfall results in women working longer to collect water, leaving them with less time to earn income outside the home. Crop productivity plummets as a result of unreliable monsoon rains. As the quantity and quality of food and water available to families is reduced, women’s share of nutrition decreases more than other family members’ portion. Women’s poor nutritional status is a key factor in their ability to cope with risk. So too are their marginalization in their own communities, exclusion from politics, denial of access to education and basic services, and experience of high rates of violence. A women’s disadvantaged position in society is made worse by the challenges posed by climate change. This report assesses several policy options and provides recommendations to lessen the impacts of climate change on women in rural Tharparkar District, such as improving agricultural practices, initiating social protection programs, and teaching technical and vocational skills. Recommendations include the evaluation and monitoring of environmental migration within Pakistan due to climate change and the implementation of policies to support communities of origin and itinerant peoples. This report recommends investment in capacity-building projects to improve institutional coordination, grassroots organization, and communication across all levels of governance. Analysis of the impacts of climate change on women in Tharparkar District is a useful case study for comparing the lives and condition of women living in poverty around the world. This report highlights the importance of mainstreaming gender in any future climate change or development policies. Without improving the lives of poor women in rural communities in Tharparkar District, Pakistan cannot achieve its economic goals or build resilience to climate change.