Climate change poses significant changes to the “natural base” on which agriculture depends, such as consistent rainfall, predictable seasonality, healthy topsoil, and other ecological relationships . Various researchers and international organizations recognize that poor households often have the lowest flexibility to adapt to worsening environmental conditions like droughts, flooding, or extreme weather events. When it comes to responding to farming adversities, rural women in Bolivia are important decision-makers.
This is especially true in the agricultural municipality of Santivañez, Bolivia, an area where the impacts of climate change are already felt by farmers, evidenced by the 2015 drought in nearby Cochabamba that left 20 municipalities with insufficient water and threatened the production of an estimated 20,000 farmers. The ability of farmers to innovate and learn in the face unfavorable weather events determines the long-term resilience of farming in these communities.
Gaia Pacha’s work with women farmers in Santivañez provides Quechua-language workshops on the agricultural challenges identified by community members themselves. These workshops cover a variety of sustainable agricultural strategies that the women can apply and adjust to their own gardening needs and interests. Topics include seed selection, plot rotation, homemade organic pest repellents, organic fertilizers, and water management. We work with practices and materials that are affordable and accessible to all members of the community. Workshops take place within the plots and gardens of the participating farmers, working directly with the plants and soil that sustain them.
These workshops benefit both Santivañez and broader knowledge about climate change adaptation. The community learns additional practices that address their questions and concerns, and Gaia Pacha learns from the women’s practical experience.
This mutual exchange empowers the women producers and shows us new resiliency methods that we can share with other communities in the future.