A Gendered Perspective on Deforestation, Climate Change, and Environmental Legislation in Zambia
Climate change induced droughts, flash flooding, inconsistent rainfall, and soil erosion have a negative impact on Zambia’s environment as well as the livelihoods of many of Zambia’s citizens. Communities in rural areas specifically experience drastic changes to their everyday lives due to the reliance on agricultural production for food and income. Among the drivers which contribute to climate change issues in Zambia, deforestation has the highest impact on Zambia’s climate. This is due to the various ways Zambians both affect and are affected by high rates of deforestation in the country. While the Environmental Management Act, Forest Policy, Forest Act, and Climate Change Policy address issues concerning environmental degradation, issues with implementation, access, and enforcement have led to inadequate use of current policies and legislations as well as failure to propose alternatives for both restoring forest resources and sustaining the livelihoods of people in rural communities. Additionally, failure to address gender issues including the adverse effects of climate change on women compared to men and the lack of representation of women in community meetings and decision-making processes, has raised the need to mainstream gender in planning, programs, and policies concerning the environment. Although civil society organizations play a role in advocating for the rights of rural women, greater coordination between civil society organizations, community members, and government officials must be achieved in order to promote justice and equity with regards to climate change issues. Lastly, Zambia’s reliance on wood fuel for energy is unsustainable for the country’s environment. In order to improve the state of climate change in Zambia, alternative energy sources in the form of green charcoal, solar energy, wind energy, and biogas must be implemented to increase access to energy in Zambia.