The impact of droughts on adolescent girls in Mozambique
Overview of droughts in Mozambique in 2016
Extreme weather events are likely to pose the greatest climate change threat in Africa. In Mozambique, these events would most likely be droughts, floods and tropical storms – all of which are expected to become more frequent, intense and unpredictable (Ehrhart & Twena, 2006).
Mozambique is the third African country most at risk to climate change and related impacts including cyclones, floods and droughts (Care, 2016). It was estimated by the Technical Secretariat of Food and Nutrition (SETSAN) in an assessment conducted in March 2016 that 1.5 million people in Mozambique were at risk of being affected by extreme weather events (UN Resident Coordinator for Mozambique, 2016).
Impacts of droughts on girls
Recent research has shown that droughts disproportionately affect women and girls: as a family is trying to cope with the effects of water shortages and barren farmland, rates of school dropout, sexual assault and children marriage all increase (Chakamba, 2017). Specific negative impacts include:
- Increased time spent on household tasks: A study undertaken by Care International (2016) revealed that “the extended nature of the drought has meant women have had to spend in excess of 6 hours searching for and transporting water to their homes.(…).” The time needed to tend to crops and find food is also greater during droughts and this increased burden has tended to fall more substantially on women and girls (Chakamba, 2017).
- School drop out : In Mozambique, nearly 44% of female youth in secondary school are out of school compared to 32% of male youth of the same age (EPDC, 2014). During droughts girls may be forced to choose between studying and going hungry. They are more likely than boys to leave school to help with household tasks such as fetching water which increase in intensity during droughts (Care International Mozambique, 2017).
- Lack of financial resources: Another study has found the financial instability families may face during droughts is related to girls’ ability to pursue their education: “Increasing food prices leave the households with fewer resources, often leaving no money for school-related expenses, thus jeopardizing their children’s access to education (Club of Mozambique, 2016)”.
- Early marriage: Droughts may also be related to higher rates of early and forced marriage (Domingos, n.d.; Felisilda, 2016). As one researcher found, “desperate parents offer their young daughters up for marriage instead of watching the girls starve to death” (Chakamba, 2017). They often must depend on marrying someone who has an income to ensure greater chances of economic security. Hill (2012) concluded that “poorer households often seek to marry off daughters early in order to access much-needed resources both through bride wealth known as ‘lobolo’ and/or the support of the new husband and his family”.
Care International Mozambique. (2017), Care deeply concerned that Mozambican girls drop out of school due to the drought, http://www.care.org.mz/pressrelease_CAREDeeplyConcernedThatMozambicanGirlsDropOutOfSchoolDueToTheDrought.php
Chakamba, R. (2017,. Drought Threatens to Undo Mozambique’s Gender Equality Progress – Women & Girls, https://www.newsdeeply.com/womenandgirls/drought-threatens-undo-mozambiques-gender-equality-progress/
Club of Mozambique. (2016), Mozambican girls drop out of school due to the drought in Funhalouro – CARE, , http://clubofmozambique.com/news/mozambican-girls-drop-school-due-drought-funhalouro/
Domingos, A. (n.d.) (2016), Drought forcing schoolgirls into marriage, CAJ News Africa, http://cajnewsafrica.com/2016/12/15/drought-forcing-schoolgirls-into-marriage/
Ehrhart, C., & Twena, M. (2006), Climate change and poverty in Tanzania realities and responses, Background Report for the CARE International Poverty-Climate Change Initiative, (November), 33
EPDC, E. (2014), School Entrance Age: Duration and Official Ages for School Cycle: School participation and efficiency
Felisilda, C. (2016), Mozambique’s drought: Children dreaming of brighter future, World Vision International, http://www.wvi.org/mozambique-drought-children-dream-brighter-future
Hill, C. (2012), Situation analysis on adolescents, http://www.care.org.mz/contentimages/other_situationanalysis.pdf
Ni, C. El. (n.d.) (2016), Hope dries up ? Women and Girls coping with Drought and Climate Change in Mozambique,http://www.care-international.org/files/files/El_Nino_Mozambique_Report_final.pdf
UN Resident Coordinator for Mozambique (2016), Mozambique: Drought, Office of the Resident Coordinator, Situation Report No. 4 (As of 10 June 2016) , http://reliefweb.int/report/mozambique/mozambique-drought-office-resident-coordinator-situation-report-no-4-10-june-2016