Three years on: Rural women in Qinghai lead from the front as a climate-resilience program winds down in China


Authors: Jiayuan Wang and Qing Wang

When UN Women first began to consider the way that climate change was hitting rural women in China, it was Qinghai that first came to mind. A large, sparsely populated province stretched high across the Tibetan Plateau, Qinghai has seen an unprecedented jump in precipitation and extreme weather, wreaking havoc on rural livelihoods. Its rural labor force also has a largely female face, being around 70-80 per cent women.

Working with a range of partners and funded by the Chanel Foundation, UN Women developed a pilot program in Qinghai to counter the economic uncertainty brought about by climate change. This has included helping rural women to diversify their crops, shift to more climate-smart farming models, and develop non-agricultural livelihood skills. In doing so, it has succeeded in diversifying the increasing risk of relying on climate-sensitive crops for subsistence agriculture or commercial farming for rural women, while boosting their incomes by linking them to larger markets.

Three years on as the pilot winds to a close, we meet with four women supported by the program to see how they got on.

In photos

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‘Strengthening Qinghai Women Farmers’ Income Security and Resilience in a Changing Climate’ has helped over 69,000 women farmers from seven counties in the Liupan mountainous area in Qinghai Province, China, since 2018. Read more about the project in our other program articles stories here and here. The project was funded by the Chanel Foundation and implemented with the former Qinghai Poverty Alleviation and Development Bureau (now called Qinghai Rural Revitalization Bureau), the Qinghai Women’s Federation, the United Nations Environment Programme – International Ecosystem Management Partnership (UNEP-IEMP), in partnership with International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

UN Women and IFAD will be taking learning from this project forward into its next joint livelihood security program for rural women in Hunan, at a cost of USD 173 million. Read more here