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Gender and climate risk management: evidence of climate information use in Ghana

July 2018

The gender perspective of climate information use is not well studied although necessary for developing gender-responsive climate information services (CIS). This study determined how CIS use by men and women farmers may be influenced by their perceptions about climate change (CC), farm activities, and demography. The study was carried out at the Lawra-Jirapa Districts of the Upper West Region of Ghana where downscaled seasonal forecast information through mobile phone technologies (Esoko platform) had been disseminated to farmers since 2011. Data was collected from semi-structured questionnaire interviews involving 900 farmers (50.2% women and 49.8% men) and four 20-member focus group discussions. The study confirmed 85.2% (representing 767) farmers were aware of climate change and its implications for their agriculture and other livelihood activities. Men and women had similar perceptions about climate change, perceived by the majority as increased strong winds, higher temperatures, increased frequency of drought, increased rainfall variability and increased flooding. Among other factors, it was evident that use of CIS may be influenced by gender. Men were found to be particularly responsive in adopting CIS use for climate risk mitigation. This was attributed to their ability to easily access and use telephone devices compared with women. The study revealed that unlike women, men were able to access more financial resources and had control of household income which allowed them to purchase mobile phones. Women generally accessed their husbands’ mobile phones. Despite differences in access to CIS, the study showed both men and women found it beneficial for strategic farm decision-making such as when to begin land preparation, when to plant, and which crop to select. In addition, both men and women were found to face similar constrains (such as poor network connectivity and limited of training), to accessing and using CIS through the Esoko platform. The study recommends the need to explore different CIS dissemination channels and design CIS that meet gender-specific needs.