Category Archives: World Bank

Building climate resilience in Laos by bringing in women

Lao women researchers. Photo: FishBio (Fisheries research, monitoring and conservation) http://fishbio.com/field-notes/population-dynamics/lao-women-in-fish-research

In other projects in Laos, women in Donexay village have become involved as researchers in the Nam Kading River of central Lao PDR. Photo and story: FISHBIO [Fisheries Research, Monitoring and Conservation] FISHBIO

Charlotte Moser worked among Lao fishers in the Sekong River basin that begins in Vietnam, traverses Lao PDR and flows into the Mekong in Cambodia. The project on which she worked, in Samakhixay and Saysettha districts of Attapeu Province in southern Laos, involved Lao PDR, World Bank and IUCN support. She reports [“Listening to Women Fishers on the Sekong River: Fostering Resilience in Village Fishery Co-Management“] that the advent of fisheries comanagement and new national laws and institutions such as the Lao Women’s Union and a flurry of activity, especially after the 1995 UN Beijing  Conference on Women, tended to stay at the national level.

What was happening at the local level along the Sekong, where men fished in the main river and its tributaries and women were seasonal fishers in the rice fields? Following the new national 2009 Guideline for Fisheries Comanagement, several comanagement fishery committees were established to oversee fisheries conservation zones. Elite men tended to be appointed to the committees (by village chiefs), thus cementing the status quo, whereas women, if in the committees, were elected and tended to be challenging the status quo. The national fishery guidelines did not mandate women’s participation.  Generally, the fisheries committees also avoid other difficult issues such as ethnicity, the deteriorating quality of the river water and its fishery resources, and the maintenance of fish conservation zones. Of 6 committees established in 2009 in the study area, the only committee to survive until 2013 was the one that had a woman member (who kept the committee records) and it was also the only one to maintain a conservation zone.

Charlotte Moser laments that, despite the calls to include women, and the good advice available as to how to do this, action on the ground often disappoints, as in this case in Laos. She reiterates the generally recommended steps needed, but does not underestimate their difficulty to implement.

Among these steps are including language in the national Fisheries Law that requires participation by women in village fishery management committees, creating incentives to allow women to develop new skills, ensuring more places in governance structures for women and providing opportunities for adaptive learning tailored to the experiences and interests of women in fishing villages.

Abstract: The accelerated economic development of landlocked Laos, combined with extreme climate variables, points to dramatic transformations in subsistence fisheries on its rivers. In the country’s first Fisheries Law, adopted in 2009, co-management of village fisheries is required as a way to promote sustainable development at a local level. The co-management model, however, does not stipulate participation by women fishers, important stakeholders who make up almost one-half of all Lao fishers and whose work contributes directly to family nutrition and well-being. Based on fieldwork conducted in fishing villages on the Sekong River in southern Laos in 2013, this paper takes an ecosystems approach to discuss how the country can build resilience and social cohesion into fisheries by incorporating women and their knowledge into village fishery management. In the process, the health of river ecosystems and food security will improve, while women fishers will acquire new skills to help them avoid ‘poverty traps.’

Download the paper here

Efforts to ensure that gender is included in the new climate agreement

Fishing family recovering from typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Philippines. Photo: M. Sumagaysay.

Fishing family recovering from typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), Philippines. Photo: M. Sumagaysay.

COP20, the UN climate conference is now underway in Lima, Peru (20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol). Concerted efforts are being made to engender the new climate agreement that the countries are negotiating, informed and influenced by numerous non-government groups.

The 9th December was Gender Day at COP20. Gender issues were recognized in a series of papers, none unfortunately addressing the aquaculture and fisheries sectors, in the UN magazine, Outreach. Nevertheless, the set of papers is a good outline of the history so far of how gender is and is not incorporated and makes a strong case for much more systematic incorporation of gender into climate policies and actions on the ground.

Contents (download pdf of whole report here).

1. Time to act: Let’s make this the century of women’s empowerment and rights
2. Gender and climate change: Shoehorned or real?
3. Gender equality in a new climate agreement 4 The silent sufferers of climate change
5. Measuring, reporting and verification for women’s empowerment: The W+ Standard
6. All India Women’s Conference’s initiatives at national level to abate climate change
7. Connecting the dots: Relating forests and food to women’s empowerment and community resilience at the COP20 negotiations
8. Gender in the climate negotiations – moving from a side issue to a common thread