In Ethiopia, unlike the experience in the past, the risk of experiencing disasters including but not limited to flood, drought and human epidemics are increasing in frequency, scale, and intensity mainly due to climate change. It is forecasted these situations to continue and aggravate in the future making the country vulnerable to multiple hazards and associated disasters. Women are always at the center of disaster in terms of shouldering its negative impacts. They are the hardest hit in economy being put at the greater risk of falling into poverty. For instance, a study on the impact of COVID 19 on women showed 64% of women to have lowered income and 26% to have lost their incomes entirely.1 Hence, if this anticipated situation in the increase in disaster is not linked to interventions that build up on women’s resiliency, it might result in reversing positive development outcomes registered so far and sustaining poverty.
What Interventions to Build on Women’s Resilience?
The law that established the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (Regulation No. 363-2015) has brought a paradigm shift in integrating disaster risk management into long term development initiatives with the aim of building up on resilient economy and society. It calls up on establishing a coordinated, accountable and decentralized system. This is an opportunity for development partners to work on advocacy on the redesigning of existing development programs as they mainstream disaster risk management and with focus on building up on the resilience of women. It is also vital to advocate on the revision of the social protection programs as they are accessible to a proportionate number of women affected by disaster.
Examples of Interventions to advocate for replication and expansion include the following:
- Linking livelihood programs to women with investments in infrastructures and technologies which ease UCW for women. These concurrent investments done in support of the livelihood programs include but not limited to accelerating the easy access to potable water, providing alternative energy sources and the provision of household appliances that ease household chores. Adopting such an approach in livelihood programs to women guarantees effectiveness in results in livelihood programs increasing savings to be used in time of shocks.
- Promoting gender responsive financial policy and strategy that give recognition to the unique barriers to women’s access to finance and include special measures that address the barriers and hence facilitate the access by women to finance. Such policy intervention contributes to enabling poor women transit from the social protection scheme to becoming entrepreneurs and hence resilient to shocks.