Enhancing Resilience of Women to Hazards through Mainstreaming Gender into Disaster Risk Reduction Policies in Botswana


Moyo, Nkosiyabo F. 2019. "Enhancing Resilience of Women to Hazards through Mainstreaming Gender into Disaster Risk Reduction Policies in Botswana." PhD diss., North-West University.

Author: Nkosiyabo F. Moyo


The absence of a gender perspective in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a matter of serious concern for both research and practice. This is despite overwhelming evidence that women are disproportionately affected by disasters. During the past decade, there has been a worldwide alarming increase in the impact and frequency of disasters, especially hydro-meteorological hazards (heavy rain storms) as a result of climate change. It is estimated that two-thirds of the world's disasters are related to climate change (Mitchell and van Aalst, 2008:1). Likewise, Botswana is currently experiencing an increase in the number of localised disasters climatological as well as non climatological disasters, which hardly reached global headlines, but silently and persistently eroded the capacities of Batswana to survive and prosper. However, these disasters did not affect people equally. Women, especially those in rural female-headed households were profoundly impacted the most. In Botswana and other developing countries, existing and entrenched social inequalities contribute to the disparity in vulnerability. As a result Women are at a greater disadvantage, even before a disaster strikes, due to the implications of inequalities and how they manifest and influence existing historical, social, cultural, economic and political conditions in Botswana.

Generally, there is paucity of research on sex and gender differences regarding vulnerability to disasters. The limited data available suggests a pattern of gender differentiation in the various phases of disaster risk reduction. While studies in DRR include gender as demographic variable, they provide only basic information on gender, but do not engage in any thorough explanation or analysis of women’s experiences in a disaster situation. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of disasters on women in Botswana and provide concrete recommendations on how to address the practical (food, shelter, income) and strategic (human rights, skills and leadership training) gender needs and interests of women, without necessarily alienating men. This would help realise Vision 2036, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve these goals, it was posited that gender issues should be mainstreamed into DRR. 

Based on the premise above, the study examined the origins and the evolution of the concepts of disaster, gender and mainstreaming. It also examined best international practices in these fields. Such practices were analysed and discussed from within a global perspective and operationalised to Botswana's context. Following a qualitative design, the research used focus group discussions of households affected by disasters and subject-matter specialists (practitioners, scholars, politicians, traditional leaders and activists) to collect data. 

The findings confirmed the differential vulnerabilities between men and women and their differing adaptive capacities regarding disaster situations. These capacities were found to be influenced largely by culture and its institutional frameworks. The study affirmed the central role played by culture and institutions in marginalising women. 

Keywords: disaster risk reduction, climate-change adaptation, gender, mainstreaming, women, social vulnerability, resilience, sustainable development, Botswana

Topics: Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Gender Mainstreaming, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Households, Rights, Human Rights, Security, Food Security Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Botswana

Year: 2019

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