Gender, Social Capital and Adaptive Capacity to Climate Variability: A Case of Pastoralists in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions in Kenya


Omolo, Nancy, and Paramu L. Mafongoya. 2019. "Gender, Social Capital and Adaptive Capacity to Climate Variability: A Case of Pastoralists in Arid and Semi-Arid Regions in Kenya." International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management 11 (5): 744-58.

Authors: Nancy Omolo, Paramu L. Mafongoya


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between gender and social capital in adapting to climate variability in the arid and semi-arid regions in Turkana in Kenya. 
Design/methodology/approach: This paper undertook literature review of secondary data sources, conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs). The statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) was used to analyze data for the quantitative part of the paper. 
Findings: Vulnerability is influenced by age, gender, education and disability. Elderly women are considered to be the most vulnerable to climate variability and change because they are the poorest in the community, followed by elderly men, the disabled, female-headed households, married women, men and, finally, the youth. Less than 30 per cent of women and men in both Katilu and Loima are able to read and write. The cross-tabulation results show that there is a statistical significant relationship between gender, age and education level and climate change vulnerability. This implies that gender, age and education level have a significant effect on climate change vulnerability. 
Research limitations/implications: The research coverage was limited to only two regions in Turkana because of time and economic constraints. 
Practical implications: The lack of attention to gender in the climate change literature has time and again resulted in an oversimplification of women’s and men's experience of climate risks. Improved development assistance, investments and enhanced targeting of the truly vulnerable within pastoral societies demand an acceptance of underdevelopment in arid and semi-arid regions in Kenya because of historical imbalances in investment; the recognition that vulnerability of pastoralists is neither uniform nor universal and the need to consider differences like age, gender and education. Policy-makers should understand that pastoralists in the past have used indigenous knowledge to cope with and adapt to climate change. The current-recurrent and intensity droughts require investment in modern technology, equipping pastoralists with relevant information and skills to make them resilient to climate change and implementing existing and relevant policies for northern Kenya. 
Social implications: This paper draws from several other efforts to show the critical relationships between gender, social capital and climate change. They are tracking adaptation and measuring development framework; ending drought emergencies common programme framework; and feminist evaluation approach. 
Originality/value: This paper is important in identifying the link between gender, social capital and adaptation to climate change.


Keywords: gender, adaptation, climate variability, pastoralists, Turkana

Topics: Age, Agriculture, Development, Poverty, Education, Environment, Climate Change, Environmental Disasters, Gender, Indigenous, Indigenous Knowledge Systems Regions: Africa, East Africa Countries: Kenya

Year: 2019

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