Integrating gender in the mitigation of climate change

The Focal Point of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for Liberia at the EPA says the issue of climate change continues to be one of the major threats to development.

Benjamin Karmoh, said the situation is posing danger to every sector including health, agriculture, education, water and sanitation, energy, and other sectors of the country thereby requiring the collective effort of everyone in addressing the issues of climate change.

Karmoh speaking during a two-day inception training on the integration of gender perspective, through the use of sex disaggregated data and gender analysis tools in programme formulation and monitoring.

The training targeted staff from line ministries, agencies, and corporations with specific functions in planning, monitoring and evaluation and was held in the port City of Buchannan.

The event was organized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under its National Adaptation Plan Project) with funding from the Green Climate Fund.

According to Karmoh, Women, children and youth are captured as the most vulnerable groups to the effects of climate change and gender has a critical role to play in the proposed Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development of the Government of Liberia.

“Women are dominant users of natural resources (land and water) at the household level in Liberia, hence any impact of climate change is going to impact on them significantly. We must therefore ensure that climate change adaptation planning in Liberia addresses the gender imbalance between men and women, boys and girls,” the UNFCCC Focal Point for Liberia stated.

Buchanan, like many coastal settlements in Liberia, had been threatened by rising sea posing danger to the entire city with many homes and streets swallowed by the sea. However, the intervention of UNDP’s Coastal Defense Project funded by the Global Environment Facility has provided mitigating measures for the people of Grand Bassa County.

Grand Bassa County Assistant Superintendent for Development Flee Glay thanked UNDP and partners for choosing Buchanan for the hosting of the awareness, sensitization and gender integration training.

He said it is hoped that the participants openly partake in the exercise which is aimed at integrating climate change adaptation into all levels of development activities across Liberia with Buchanan being no exception.

UNDP works closely with the EPA and the National Disaster Management Agency, to build and improve skills of Staff and personnel involved in mainstreaming climate change adaptation into planning, and budgeting processes and systems, and formulating financing mechanisms for scaling-up adaptation, and preparing local communities to protect themselves in the face of disasters.

UNDP/NAP Project Manager E. Abraham Tamba Tumbey provided the overview of the Project. He said UNDP recognizes the vital role of gender and the local people in addressing climate change and other development issues.

The training was facilitated by Chantal Ekambi UNDP Gender & Social Consultant for the NAPs Project and co-facilitated by Benjamin Karmorh-United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Focal Point for Liberia, Scholastica Doe-Gender Focal Point, EPA and Salome Gofan-Executive Director, Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment.

“Women should not continue to play the blame game, they have to be self-confident and exert themselves in order to lay stake to their position at the decision-making level,” said Chantal Ekambi, UNDP Gender & Social Consultant for the NAPs Project.

“You cannot expect women to fully participate in the implementation of adaptation programs/projects if you do not incorporate their inputs at the planning stage,” Salome Gofan-Executive Director, Rural Integration Center for Community Empowerment noted.

Ms. Gofan called for a gender audit of Liberia’s national budget to determine whether it supports gender equity and empowerment.

“We need to conduct a gender audit of our national budget in order to determine whether the current budget system adequately supports gender equality and empowerment of women,” Salome Gofan-Executive Director, Rural Integration Center for Community Empowerment

The two-day exercise brought together at least 52 participants (37 males and 15 females) from the Ministries of Transport, Finance for Development Planning and Mines & Energy; Liberia Institute for Statistics & Geo-Information Services (LISGIS); Forestry Development Authority (FDA); National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) and Environmental Protection Agency EPA).

“For gender mainstreaming to be achieved in Liberia, the barriers to women participation in development planning should be removed and this begins with gender empowerment through education and capacity building,”-Amos Gbeyanyan Yloe-Meteorological Observer, Environmental Focal Point, Ministry of Transport stressed.

The UNDP NAP project is designed to help strengthen institutional frameworks, policies and coordination and develop natural disaster risk management and reduction strategies in order to reduce risks and vulnerabilities.

It also enables parties, including Liberia to formulate national adaptation plan as a means of identifying medium and long-term adaptation needs for implementing strategies and programmes to address them.