Building resilience: the gendered effect of climate change on food security and sovereignty in Kakamega Kenya

Liru, Pauline ; Heinecken, Lindy (2021)

CITATION: Liru, P. & Liru, P. 2021. Building resilience : the gendered effect of climate change on food security and sovereignty in Kakamega-Kenya. Sustainability, 13(7):3751, doi:10.3390/su13073751.

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Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund


Climate change is a global threat, affecting the food security and food sovereignty of many depending on agriculture for their livelihoods. This is even more pronounced in Kenya, given their over-reliance on rain-fed crops and the frequency of floods and droughts in the country. Through qualitative interviews, this study set out to establish how climate change not only affects the food security, production and consumption of rural women farmers in Kakamega County, Kenya, but their response to climate shocks. Using resilience theory as a lens, we established that women use different pathways to mitigate the effects of climate change on their livelihoods. The study found that initially women adopt coping strategies that are reactive and not sustainable, but soon adapted their farming strategies, using their indigenous knowledge to exercise some control over both their food security and food sovereignty. Besides this, they use their human and social capital to expand their networks of support. By linking up to other organizations and gaining access to government support, they are able to challenge patriarchal relations that perpetuate poverty and inequality and bring about more transformative and sustainable responses to climate change.

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