Rural women and climate change in Jordan

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The threat of climate change is growing, affecting in particular those countries most prone to drought and desertification. Jordan recognized this risk and has been taking active measures to combat the effects of climate change. Yet in highly exposed rural and agricultural communities, Jordan is missing out on a strategic partnership with women, who have a significant role to play in addressing climate change, building capacities for adaptation and strengthening local community resilience.


Research shows that the most significant issues Jordan will experience due to climate change are related to reduced access to water, directly and negatively impacting public health, agriculture and food security. The water supply is projected to decrease by over 50m3 per person within the next ten years, making it one of the driest countries in the world by 2022. Rainfall will decrease by 15-60% and air temperature will increase by 1-40 Celsius. These drastic climatic changes will produce a domino effect by reducing agricultural and food production, threatening the survival of one-third of Jordan’s biodiversity, exacerbating water scarcity, dissipating ecosystems and watersheds, and causing the decline of economic livelihoods, to name the most severe amongst other critical consequences. In the context of the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, climate change could undermine efforts of poverty eradication and towards peacebuilding and achievement of sustainable development, turning this challenge into a global issue intersecting gender, age, and geography. Despite Jordan’s active role within international negotiations on environmental policies, the debate on climate change in the country remains limited and insufficiently backed by evidence-based research.

In rural areas of Jordan, women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men are, particularly because women constitute the majority of the poor and are dependent for their livelihoods on natural resources that are threatened by climate change. In the country, almost 9.1% of female-headed households are food insecure or vulnerable to food security, compared to 5.7% of male-headed families (DoS 2013). Furthermore, women face significant social, economic, and political barriers that negatively affect coping capacities. Women charged with the responsibility to secure water, food, and fuel for cooking and heating face the greatest challenges. When coupled with unequal access to resources, barriers to decision-making processes and limited mobility, women in rural areas are placed in a position wherein they are disproportionately affected by climate change. It is therefore of critical importance for gender-sensitive strategies to be identified and developed to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change.