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Building resilient cities through gender mainstreaming & climate adaptation

Case studies from Mexico and El Salvador: gender mainstreaming for climate resilient cities - Maria Paula Viscardo Sesma shares the measures taken by the CityAdapt project in Latin America & The Caribbean.

The aim of this blog is to spotlight the gender mainstreaming measures implemented by the CityAdapt project to reduce the differential impacts of climate change on men and women.

Map of Central and North America highlighting locations of Xalapa, San Salvador and Kingston, where CityAdapt works
Map of City Adapt locations, Credit: Jess Roberts

The CityAdapt project, funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by The United Nations Environment Programme, aims to contribute to climate change adaptation in Latin American and Caribbean cities, by building the capacity for the implementation of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in Xalapa (Mexico), San Salvador (El Salvador) and Kingston (Jamaica). NbS encompasses actions to protect, conserve, restore, and sustainably manage ecosystems.

Nature-based solutions (NbS) are actions to protect, conserve, restore, and sustainably manage ecosystems

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for adaptation do not automatically have positive outcomes for gender equality. However, they do hold great potential to address this issue. Conversely, not employing a gendered lens when promoting NbS poses a big risk of maladaptation. Taking this into account, two gender action plans focused on NbS were formulated for San Salvador and Xalapa, with the collaboration of UN Women.

Case study 1: San Salvador

Cacao production and commercialisation: targeted Nature-based Solutions for women in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Adaptation to climate change fosters new opportunities to diversify the livelihoods of vulnerable communities according to changes in bioclimatic conditions. Although an elevation of 1100 meters above sea level used to be considered too cold for crops such as cacao, 14 women - with the support of UNEP - are now witnessing how cacao trees are thriving in diversified and sustainably managed farms.

A local man and woman hold coffee plants in front of cultivated foliage
Coffee delivery, San Salvador. Credit: CityAdapt

Women have been trained in the production, processing, and marketing of fine aroma cacao to allow them not only to increase their resilience to climate change, but also to promote the quality of high-altitude coffee. Developing enterprises with native cacao contributes to reducing the risk of on-site landslides and downstream flooding, and to improving the economic autonomy of these women by providing them with alternative livelihoods.

Case Study 2: Xalapa

Building resilient water security: Rainwater harvesting.

In the urban peripheries of the city of Xalapa, women are often the primary users of water services, given the unequal social distribution of unpaid domestic work meaning more time spent on household chores and care responsibilities. Poor drinking water infrastructures force them to walk long distances and spend around 35 per cent of their income on providing their families with safe water.

Two women and a child stand next to a water capture system in Xalapa
Rainwater capture systems, Xalapa. Credit: CityAdapt

In response, CityAdapt designed and installed 10 rainwater capture systems in schools and other public buildings that are not connected to the public water infrastructure. After evidencing the benefits of this NbS, the local government and the Foundation Rio Arronte, with the support of the local organisation Sendas A.C., have invested in more than 100 additional systems for households. Today, 40 more are being installed in Banderilla, a municipality close to Xalapa.

As a result, water security has been enhanced and the susceptibility of women and their families to climate change were decreased. Moreover, the adoption of this Nature-based Solution has disrupted the conventional unfair allocation of gender roles. It has raised awareness among men about labour-intensive and financially burdensome tasks - such as daily water retrieval - while also involving them in setting up and maintaining water capture systems.



Urban Nature-Based Solutions Analyst for CityAdapt

Also pictured: ANGELA PRIAS MAHECHA, Global Adaptation Network Regional  Liaison; IRATI DURBAN AGUINAGALDE, Climate Change Adaptation Communications Specialist; OPHÉLIE CLARA DROUAULT, Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Analyst.


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