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Can Climate Smart Agriculture work for Nutrition?

Blog post by Maureen Agena, Social Reporter covering the 'Gender and Climate Smart Agriculture in Eastern and Southern Africa' workshop, on 2-4 November 2016, in Nairobi, Kenya.

November 3, 2016

Eating and drinking well has become of more value and importance to many people today, with a lot of research showing us which foods put us most at risk and which ones may lower our risk of disease. Researchers are looking to better understand how nutrition in agriculture is of importance in a changing climate. 

Ms. Esther Omosa, a senior nutrition specialist working with ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya, spoke about the role of gender in agriculture nutrition at a CTA-organised programme design workshop in Nairobi. She acknowledged that women form a significant source of labour in agriculture, which calls for deliberate and for conscious efforts to make sure that they are supported with technologies that can save time and reduce their work burden. As a result, they have more time at their disposal to improve their own lives and seek for nutritional knowledge that can used to take care of themselves and their families, especially the children who are most vulnerable to malnutrition. 

“Women in agriculture must be supported with more income; because when income is in the women’s hands, they tend to use it more towards improving the household or the children’s nutrition as compared to when the same money is in the hands of men”. She said

With a changing climate, we can no longer ignore the importance of climate-smart approaches to agriculture such as conservation agriculture and the role that they play in directly affecting smallholder farmers who are the most majority and highest at risk.

According to FAO, Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience (adaptation), reduces/removes green house gases (mitigation) and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals.

During the workshop, it was noted that gender inequality can affect food security and nutrition security outcomes through intra-household gender relations that limit the recognition of the rights of women and girls to sufficient nutritious foods, women's income control and women's voices in expenditure decisions.

Given the significant role that gender plays in nutrition and its effects on agriculture, it is key for Governments to increase women's participation in production, linking them to markets to increase opportunities to earn income, linking women to opportunities for value addition, trading and processing and most import expose women to market information to maximise on the profits income.

The bottom line is the need for undertaking an in-depth gender analysis in order to understand gender norms and societal expectations on consumption of certain foods. This in-turn will make agriculture sustainable and food secure.

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Photos from the workshop
CTA Flagship Project Making Southern African cereal and livestock farming climate resilient

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maureen aboutAbout the author and the workshop

Maureen Agena is an independent consultant from Uganda working in areas ranging from knowledge management to Web2.0 training and ICTs for agriculture. She participated as a social reporter in the Programme Design Workshop on Gender-Sensitive Climate Smart Agriculture in Eastern Africa, held from 2 to 4 November 2016, in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop, co-organised by CTA in close collaboration with CCAFS and AGRA, brought together key regional actors with interest and expertise in the promotion of gender-aware climate smart agriculture. It enabled participants to agree on a practical course of action to add value to countries' own efforts at empowering women in climate-resilient focused agricultural development programmes.