Interview [ID: 97]

Estherine Fotabong on Gender, Climate Change and CAADP

Women are most impacted by climate change, since most smallholder farmers in Africa are women. – For Estherine Fotabong of NEPAD the nexus of climate change and gender is not just another academic playground.

Women bore the brunt of climate adaptation work on smallholdings throughout Africa. To ease these difficult processes, gender issues needed to be addressed. On political levels there were various line ministries dealing with the different issues. It was them who would have to start making collaboration happen. For the next generation for CAADP implementation, Nepad was aiming to support this collaboration. A new platform and mechanisms were looking at the exchange of information on activities that took place. The aim was active citizenship, so Fotabong that held their policymakers, their technicians accountable for what they had agreed to do to make sure that women and youth are empowered so that they could actively participate in the economic life of their countries.

Related Topics

CAADP institutions - responsibilities and roles

Donors have been pointing out that roles and responsibilities of the various institutions involved with the CAADP implementation needed better management. Fotabong appreciates what the partners had done during the process so far. On the other hand donors themselves needed to have a look at organising themselves and come to the table with the view of supporting an African agenda.


Estherine Fotabong | NEPAD

Interview, Estherine Fotabong. Jan 2015

Estherine Fotabong on gender, climate change and CAADP


Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): You are over in Florence where you just finished a Platform consultation on CAADP that brought together the issues of gender and climate change. Why do we need another nexus discussion? What is the added value of bringing these two issues together?

Estherine Fotabong: It is critical that we look at the relationship between gender and climate change, but particularly women and climate change in the context of Africa where women are the ones walking the line. They are the ones producing the food, we know by various reports. About 65 to 70 per cent of smallholder farmers on the continent are women. We also know that agricultural production on the continent is heavily impacted by climate change—climate variability, arability, issues of drought, floods, and all of that. It just makes sense that those who are working the land and who are impacting the land have a nexus with this cause fully because it has not been given sufficient attention to see what is happening and what kinds of actions and solutions can we bring to help mitigate, reduce the impact climate change is having on the agricultural activities of women smallholder farmers.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): When you think of gender and climate change in the context of CAADP and Africa, you also think of different line ministries that deal with these issues. Some are more progressive, others are less. How do you bring the different ministries to actually work together?

Estherine Fotabong: You are absolutely correct. Ten years of CAADP, when we did two years of consultation before we went to Malabo to have the Malabo decision on CAADP for the next ten years, one of the key issues that came out was the issue of inter-ministerial coordination and the need to have a multi-sectoral approach to addressing the issue of agriculture. For this particular topic that we are discussing—women, climate change and agriculture—we have the minister of agriculture, minister of environment, minister of women’s affairs or gender. What we are doing in this programme to ensure coordination is to establish a platform that brings together these key ministries, but also the key stakeholders, who are the women and farmers as well as civil society. So we have a broader platform that brings together all the stakeholders in for planning, for reporting back on this programme, and for accountability so that the stakeholders will ask themselves the question—on the issue of land use and land management, which sometimes the minister of the environment will take the lead—what did you do? On the issue of providing inputs—fertilisers and all of that—to the women, what did the ministry of agriculture do? On the issue of empowering and helping women’s groups to form themselves into organised communities, cooperatives or something else, what did the ministry of agriculture do and what did the ministry for gender do? So that platform is a platform where they assign themselves different roles. It is a common differentiated responsibility that all these ministries have vis-à-vis empowering women smallholder farmers to have productive activities on the ground. We hope that this platform will help to bring better coordination of these three ministries and even more—because, again, when we are talking about agriculture, climate change and women one of the key issues is technology. So we might have to bring in the ministry of science and technology to come in and participate. We might need skills. This mechanism is structured at different levels. At the national level where you have the ministries sitting at headquarters, at the level of the provinces and districts where you have the departments sitting together and jointly planning and agreeing on their activities and their respective roles for supporting women we think will really help. It is a problem and has always been a problem, and we need to try to make sure it is addressed. Now we are looking at a next generation of implementation.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): I want to dig into that a little bit. We have a number of events like the Partnership where all the relevant stakeholders are coming. However, it seems to me that the collaboration doesn’t therefore doesn’t take place necessarily. Is there a mechanism that could actually twist the arms a little bit to make the stakeholders work together more sufficiently?

Estherine Fotabong: You know, Malabo came out, and it is about action, right? We are looking at the post-2015 agenda, it is about action. We are looking at the 2015 African Union year for women empowerment, it is about action. I think everyone, from the political leadership to the technical offices to the civil society people on the ground, all agree that now we have to move beyond talking, planning and go into action. Because history will judge us. We want you to come to the platform with something to offer, and you will be held responsible if you do not deliver. That responsibility is not looking for outside groups to hold you responsible, but we want active citizenship that holds our policymakers, our technicians themselves accountable for what they have agreed to do to make sure that women and youth are empowered so that they can actively participate in the economic life of their countries.

Pascal Corbé (Secretariat): We have ten years of CAADP now. Donors have been talking to their African partners, trying to push them on sorting out the roles and responsibilities. While there may be some issues with that, what is your message to the donors in terms of sorting out roles and responsibilities?

Estherine Fotabong: I have to say that I appreciate during the last 10 years of CAADP we have really had good support of the partners behind CAADP, rallying behind it as an organising framework to support agricultural development. But one thing we have realised is that amongst the donors themselves the need to organise themselves. They need to call come to the table with the view of supporting an African agenda. That should be the driving principle. Supporting what Africa needs to do. It should not be “I am responsible for CAADP implementation and you are responsible for something else.” For us as Africans and an African institution we think that it is important that the different donor coordinating mechanisms come together and speak with one voice and support the agenda that the continent says this is how and where we want to go.

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