2021 - Malawi climate and GBV

Seeking a link between climate change and gender-based violence

Tue, 07 Sep 2021 08:10:00 BST

Researchers have launched a study in Africa to find out if an increase in gender-based violence and mental health problems is down to climate change.

Glasgow Caledonian University’s Centre for Climate Justice will conduct research in Malawi, which, it says, has been adversely affected by climate disasters and has a long-standing problem with mental-health issues and violence based on gender.

The project, which will run until March next year, will seek data via the testimonies of those who have lived through all of the above in a bid to ensure that solutions to climate change issues do not increase risk for mental health or gender-based violence for vulnerable groups. 

The researchers say the south-eastern African country is highly vulnerable to climate change and can experience extreme and unpredictable weather events such as drought, flooding and cyclones. This can contribute towards food shortages, water contamination, loss of home or livelihoods and displacement, which, the researchers say, negatively impacts on the population’s physical and mental health.

Professor Tahseen Jafry, director of the Centre for Climate Justice, said: “There has been little research to date that explores the relationship between these issues, the overlapping risk factors and the extent of the problem.

“Climate change is exacerbating issues of mental health and gender-based violence in countries all over the world, but more research is needed in countries like Malawi, that are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change but lack data on the impact climate change has on mental health and gender-based violence.

“This research is important to ensure that solutions to climate change issues do not increase risk for mental health or gender-based violence for vulnerable groups.”

The project has been funded by the Scottish Government and supported by Life Concern Malawi.