YEMENI WOMEN LEAD COMMUNITIES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
One of the greatest challenges facing society today, the warming of the planet is showing no signs of decreasing.
Aden – One of the greatest challenges facing society today, the warming of the planet is showing no signs of decreasing. In Yemen, where communities are confronting conflict and economic decline, temperatures have been rising faster than the global average over the last three decades.
Across the country, droughts and floods periodically damage agricultural lands, reduce the availability of arable lands and threaten the livelihoods and food security of communities.
“Agriculture is the main source of income for our communities, but climate change has made farming difficult and brought a decline in our economy,” said Noha Alban, a community leader from Lahj.
"Climate change has caused drought and water scarcity, which has made it impossible for farmers to grow their food. They now need to dig wells which are expensive. This has forced many farmers to sell their land and move to other areas,” she added.
Yemen is facing a decline in agricultural productivity and a shortage of seasonal crops on which the rural population depends, leading to increased food insecurity, high rates of malnutrition, as well as the continued shortage of groundwater and drinkable clean water.
"Before we started to experience drought, heavy rain and flooding, 80 per cent of our community worked on farms but now only 30 per cent can afford seeds or the other resources they need to continue farming,” said Noha.
In rural communities across Yemen, women are tackling the issue of climate change with grit and resilience.
Women often work as farmers and increasingly are becoming the sole breadwinners of their families, says Noha. They also play a pivotal role in food security and land management and help to mitigate tension over natural resources like water among local farming groups.
Noha is a member of the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Conflict Resolution Committee which was formed to address issues that arise in communities due to displacement and competition over resources.
Committee members work to raise awareness about environmental sustainability, social cohesion and peaceful solutions to conflicts through community dialogue and mediation.
"The majority of people here know the climate is changing but they do not know what kinds of precautions they can take. People need more awareness about climate change to learn how to protect themselves from rain and winds, and how to store rainwater," added Noha.
“Women can help to reduce the risks of climate change by talking to people and raising their awareness.”
Noha and other members work closely with male and female farmers to improve and care for their agricultural crops, as well as educate them about the complications of climate change and the causes of floods and droughts.
"As a member of the Conflict Resolution Committee, I help to resolve these disputes. We also educate farmers and encourage them to support each other in the management of resources and their land," elaborated Noha.
“Everyone in society should come together to solve these issues as a community, not individually.”
In coordination with community leaders and local authorities and support from the European Union, IOM works extensively with its partners and the Conflict Resolution Committees with the aim of alleviating the pressure that arises from mass displacement and competition over resources and services.
The committee also works to solve environmental and climate change-related problems and helps farmers find solutions for shortages related to water, seeds and other basic resources.