Women are feeling the impact of climate change

Maggie Ngwira, Trócaire Malawi’s CCPM Programme Coordinator, shares her personal thoughts on how this Scottish Government funded programme is helping Malawian women overcome the challenges of climate change. 

I used to be a teacher but because I could see the impact of climate change and wanted to do something about it, I moved into development work.

In the CCPM, we are seeing that women in particular are feeling the impact of climate change. In Malawian culture, a lot of what are typically viewed as women’s activities are especially affected.

For example, it’s seen as a women’s role to cook, to fetch water and to look after the children. But if there’s a drought, they may not be able to find water without travelling for many miles. If they have to spend many hours travelling to fetch water, they have much less time for other activities that help them provide for their children.

Similarly, if they have a husband he may have to migrate to the cities or South Africa to look for work. So the women are left heading up the households alone and sometimes the husbands do not send any money back, so their resources are stretched even more.

In order to feed their families, they sometimes have to take dangerous risks, like taking out loans, which can become a vicious circle that puts them under more and more pressure.

The CCPM is helping women by looking at how they currently secure the food and income they need to support their families and finding ways to help them improve their livelihoods. This includes providing training for female farmers in areas like agroecology; making locally generated manure rather than buying expensive fertiliser, so it costs them less to grow food.

The CCPM is also involving them in other income generation activities that are not dependant on agriculture, such as setting up their own small business so that, if their crops do fail because of extreme flooding or drought, they can still support themselves.

When they have more sources of incomes their lives are more sustainable.

- Maggie Ngwira, CCPM Programme Coordinator, Trócaire Malawi, CCPM coordinating partner