Women’s Empowerment at the Frontline of Adaptation

However, there have been some success stories, such as the training conducted by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) Disaster Risk Management project, which consciously targeted women for masonry training (for retrofitting buildings to make them earthquake resistant or rebuilding after disasters). This project trained 30 rural women in masonry and these women have started working and earning money using their new skills. 8. There is a lack of gender sensitivity in post-disaster preparedness. The Koshi Victim Society, Saptari district, an organization working on disaster relief and rehabilitation, has drawn attention to the post-disaster risks for women. With the disruption of social support networks and displacement, women in post-disaster scenarios are vulnerable to rape and other forms of violence, and can even be forced

into sex work. They can also suffer from nutritional deficiencies. In post-disaster relief work, the practical and medical needs of women including pregnant and lactating women, such as for safe toilets, a clean environment, access to health services, and accessible food distribution systems, are often ignored. 9. The destruction of hydropower stations, fuel-based mills, and other infrastructure has an immediate impact on how women use their time and on their workload. The introduction of hydropower and fuel-based mill technologies has been a boon to rural women in Nepal, reducing women’s labour and saving time. However, frequent and unpredictable disasters such as flash floods and droughts damage water mills and

During an FGD with women farmers from Chitwan, Shaktikhor VDC, it was revealed that, to save time and cope with the shortage of labour, women from wealthier households purchased chemical herbicides to remove weeds. They said that while such herbicides are effective, it also makes the makes the soil harder. Most rural women are unable to read or understand the instructions and lack any knowledge on the proper use or side effects of these herbicides. The women farmers also said that villages close to the district headquarters purchased ‘chemicals’ from the local market, which they referred to as ‘vitamins’, to enhance the growth of the vegetables. While the women knew about these ‘vitamins’ they were unaware of their health implications.

micro-hydro stations, as well as irrigation systems and roads, directly affecting women’s workload and mobility. Damage to roads and bridges by landslides and floods causes geographical isolation and affects access to services such as health, government services, technical support, and information. The absence of information on existing flood patterns affects women’s planning and preparedness.

Challenges to Agriculture and Food Security

1. The hardening of the soil means that fields require additional breaking, even after ploughing, as well as more water and manure before sowing, meaning additional physical labour for women. The soil quality in Nepal is generally becoming degraded as a result of unpredictable rainfall, including long spells of dry weather and short, but intense, rainfall. Hardened soils are very difficult to break and fertilise, and require more water and manure (traditionally women’s work), translating into additional work and long hours of physical labour in the hot sun for women. More time spent breaking the soil also means less time for sowing the crops and other activities.

Earlier, the ploughed fields did not require additional breaking, but nowadays the hardened soil needs to be broken further to make it suitable for sowing. It requires more water, more manure and long hours of physical labour in the hot sun by women to break the soil and carry the manure to the field. Nima Lama, a woman farmer from Kavre district


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