A year ago, The New Times interviewed Specioza Mukandayambaje, a mother of four, who was abandoned by her husband after heavy rains washed their house away on Christmas in 2019. The couple had lived together for nearly two decades with their first born, a daughter now aged 18. They had five houses in Kigali’s Nyarugenge District, four of which were occupied by tenants raising Rwf25,000 a month each. That was their main source of income, but all the houses also sank in the floods. She tried renting a small house but failed immediately. She had to send all her children to her mother in the village in Muhanga District. “My children have been affected by these shocks,” she pointed out. “First, losing their home, then their father deserting us and also having to change schools. All this has affected them, psychologically, even in their performance at school.” Mukandayambaje, an on-and-off street vendor for mostly tomatoes in Nyabugogo said that three years later, she was alone, and life was still hard because she didn’t have a source of income. “Even the small business on the street – which, by the way, is illegal – is not working for me. I would wish to be with all of my children but it's not possible,” she said. Mukandayambaje and her children are just a few of many in the world, and particularly Rwanda, whose lives have changed completely because of the effects of climate change. Climate change is widely recognized as an amplifier of existing vulnerabilities, and the ways in which people cope with and adapt to climate change depends on their capabilities, agency and access to rights, services, resources and networks, according to the World Bank’s draft gender and climate change Country Climate Change Development Report (CCDR). The draft report also shows that climate-related risks and vulnerabilities experienced by women and girls fall under agricultural production, food and nutrition security, health, water, energy and natural resources, and disaster risk management. “Despite making considerable progress on gender equality since independence, Rwanda’s pressing gender gaps are likely to persist or even widen on account of climate change. Unpredictable and severe seasonal variations in weather, combined with natural hazards such as floods, soil erosion and droughts, are aggravating underlying gender inequalities in livelihoods, personal safety, voice and agency, and time poverty across Rwanda,” the report adds. It shows that despite the fact that Rwandan women are the majority of the agricultural labour force, they have less access to agriculture inputs such as land, credit, fertilizers, seeds, extension services, and knowledge. They have limited agency and leadership in cooperatives and they tend to incur income losses which affect their ability to afford medical services, among other necessities. The draft also highlights that only 7 percent of female-headed households have access to piped water, contrary to 10 percent of their male counterparts, which forces women to rely more heavily on water from outside. Only 20 percent of female headed households have access to electricity, and women spend about 73 minutes per day collecting firewood and other biofuels, almost double the time spent by men. Perhaps this explains why biomass remains predominant among female headed households at the rate of 84 percent, and 78 percent for male headed households. This, combined with other cultural factors, makes the effects of climate change worse for women, who become victims of air-pollution related deaths, vector-borne, and water-borne diseases. Women are also exposed to safety risks and GBV when collecting water and firewood. In a partnership between the World Bank Rwanda and the Gender Ministry, a consultative workshop on climate change and gender was held in Kigali on January 19, to discuss interventions and discuss more about the CCDR gender annex being developed. Speaking at the workshop, Mireille Batamuriza, the Permanent Secretary in the Gender Ministry noted that while the ministry has taken part in different climate resilience projects for women, more can be done. “We need to work closely with you all in addressing climate change, not just about reducing emissions and protecting the environment, but also about creating a more just and equitable society. By mainstreaming gender in our efforts to address climate change, we can ensure that girls and women in Rwanda are not left behind as we work to build a more sustainable future,” Batamuriza said. Rolande Pryce, the Country Manager of the World Bank said that evidence highlights that Rwandan women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change, especially combined with other intersectional vulnerabilities. “Despite this vulnerability, women’s unique roles, knowledge and skills in communities and households in Rwanda highlight the potential to be changed to be critical actors for transformative and sustainable climate solutions,” Pryce added. The draft report discussed in the workshop recommends that gender responsive interventions in the green economy sectors should be adopted so that women have access to skills relevant to green growth sectors. It also recommends that preventive and response measures are needed to ensure women’s protection and safety, and suggests that those measures could be ensuring protection and response from Gender Based Violence, addressing child marriage, and improving access to health care.