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Understanding gender differences in availability, accessibility and use of climate information among smallholder farmers in Malawi

August 2020

This study uses qualitative and quantitative data to assess the availability, accessibility and use of climate information among smallholder sugarcane farmers in southern Malawi, disaggregating data according to gender, age, education level and landholding size. The authors found that both access and preferences regarded climate information are gendered, and a more diverse range of options for accessing the forecasts is required to accommodate the specific needs of women.

Following radio, men farmers would prefer to obtain forecasts through newspaper, whatsapp, sms or internet. Women’s second preference, however, is to obtain forecasts through an organization that can function as a knowledge broker, such as NGOs, extensionists, community leaders or the outgrower management, which is likely attributed to the fact that such interaction enables training and assistance in interpreting the forecasts, as well as guidance in how the forecasts can be used for improved adaptation. The paper concludes that understanding gendered preferences and barriers to climate information access is crucial for the benefits of adaptation to be accessed equitably.