The struggle for food and livelihood security: changing livelihoods, gender roles and gender hierarchies

Collective impacts of a changing climate and society

We have argued iu the preceding chapters that, in many cases, the impacts of climate change should not be considered in isolation; in such cases, they need to be put in the context of other important changes that are taking place. This has been true as well regarding the present study, where women’s and men's roles, voices and hierarchies have been affected not only by physical changes in their environment but also by changes in their institutional and social contexts (Chaudhry & Ruysschaert, 2007; World Bank, 2010).

In this chapter, we will examine men’s and women’s responses to rapid increases in food and livelihood insecurity, with women impacted more by food insecurity and men (and women to a lesser extent) by livelihood insecurity. We will also examine how relations between wives and husbands have changed and, more generally, how gender roles and hierarchies have changed, in the wake of the women's and men's very different responses to sudden and difficult food and livelihood-related threats.

We will be concerned primarily with the years following the changes that forced the community to move away from self-sufficiency and toward the country's economic and social mainstream. The discussion will focus initially on data obtained during the 2011-2012 and 2014 field visits to the area; more recent - including some unexpected - developments, drawing from interviews held in 2019, will conclude this chapter and serve as a basis for further consideration of changing gender roles and hierarchies in the aftermath of major climate, regulatory and social changes in the next and final chapter (Chapter 5).

The following timeline (Figure 4.1) identifies some of the major turning points for the community from the 1990s onward, with changes compounding especially in the last two to three decades (particularly since 1998, with the enforcement of the Forest Land Allocation [FLA] program and other regulatory policies, along with increasingly significant impacts of climate change and socioeconomic and cultural changes over time).

As noted previously, agriculture is the critical source of livelihood for 97% of the Co Tu population. They have relied on subsistence agricultural production and forest resources since their ancestors' time. However, in recent years, agricultural production and livelihood patterns have been undercut and forced to change. We

Recent turning points impacting the Co Tu community of Ca Dy Commune

Figure 4.1 Recent turning points impacting the Co Tu community of Ca Dy Commune

will therefore begin with a focus on growing food and livelihood insecurity and the resulting impacts on gender roles, relations and hierarchies.

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