Information crucial for women to survive climate change shocks
Linda Miriro (48) has a one acre plot in Kingsdale suburb, about 7 kilometres north of Bulawayo metropolitan province. At this period of the year, Linda says many years ago, her plot used to be lush with green and healthy crops. This year, and the preceding years, Linda says she has watched helplessly as her crops are wiped by the persistent droughts.
Linda says this year the situation has been particularly disheartening because she had hoped for a better harvest following media reports that there would be normal to above normal rainfall. She says every morning she wakes up to see how the lack of rains and high temperature have shattered her hope for a meaningful harvest.
“If only I had been provided with detailed accurate weather forecast, I would have planned to plant short season crops or some crops that survive in dry conditions. Now all I do is regret the amount of money I spent on farming inputs this season. I hired a tractor and bought seed and fertilizer. If had I known I could have used that money to pay for my daughter’s school fees,” says Linda.
Linda says her family depends on income from the sale of maize from her piece of land. She says she also keeps some chickens that she raises for selling and for domestic consumption. She reveals that these operations depends on good rains and that increased unpredictability of rainfall patterns have led to poor yields and a waste of the limited resources.
“Climate change is impacting negatively on our livelihood. We do not know what to do to anymore. Each year we are not sure whether to plant early, plant late or not to plant at all,” says Linda
In order to increase her chances of any meaningful harvest this farming season, Linda says she had planted her crops in stages with a time lag of two to three weeks. She says that this did not help as all the crops were wiped out by the blazing heat.
“I started to plant right on the onset of the season in November and continued up to February with the hope that some crops might receive better rains. There were times when we would receive intense rains and we expected that to continue for a long time. However, soon after the rains, the sun would start blazing with ferocity and everything would wilt away,” says Linda.
Linda says she and many other women in her community face daily struggles to put food on the table for their families. She adds that the climate crisis is making things so much harder because it drains the available income and closes up the chances of getting income.
“I am worried that the current drought in the country can lead to increase in the prices of most basic food stuff like mealie meal and cooking oil. I can only hope the government can chip in with food hand-outs otherwise we will die of hunger this year,” Said Linda.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (put link) in the future, climate change will worsen with decreasing rainfall, intensified droughts and increasing climate variability. In the absence of accurate information and awareness of mitigating and adaptation measures, women like Linda will continue to gamble for their survival.
The Creative Centre for Communication and Development is working on increasing the voices of women and girls as an avenue to promote awareness on issues of climate change mitigation and adaptation. The plan is to encourage women and girls around Bulawayo to harness the power of ICTs and tell their stories about how they are affected by climate change, and to portrait their strength, resilience and capacity to adapt thereby depicting them as agents of change.
Linda says most women are slowly becoming aware of climatic change. However she says more still needs to be done to ensure that women who survive on climate related activities adjust to the accelerating changes for their wellbeing. She advocated that communities especially women should be capacitated with skills to increase resilience to climate-related shocks.