Vulnerability of livelihood and adaptive capacity to climate change: A case of Chikupi Rural Women, Zambia

Zambia has not been spared from the adverse effects of climate change that have affected the
poorest in society. Most Zambians reside in rural areas and depend on small-scale agriculture for
their livelihoods. The only way out of climate change effects is adaptation. Climate change
adaptation requires communities to have adequate income and assets/capital for improved
livelihoods/wellbeing. This paper aims to explore Chikupi women’s access, use of assets/capital,
and constraints they face in adapting livelihood to climate change. The study uses Chikupi Rural
in Kafue District as it is located along the banks of the Kafue River, and it is a flat plain that is
often affected by floods and drought. This study responds to the questions: who is regarded as
vulnerable and poor in Chikupi and why? How do women use assets to adapt their livelihoods to
climate change in Chikupi? What constraints do different groups of women face in adapting their
livelihoods to climate change, and why? The Sustainable Livelihood Approach, intersectionality,
and feminist economic theories are used for the study. The study uses qualitative interviews and
focus group discussions for data collection. Study results reveal that single women, the aged, and
differently-abled people are vulnerable and poor. In addition, vulnerability and poverty are also
characteristic of households with added roles and responsibilities such as food provision and care
of families. Piecework, trading, and farming were major livelihoods that served as adaptive
measures in times of climate change impacts in Chikupi. Major assets owned and used are small
livestock and land by single women. Most married women do not own assets of their own but as
couples. The study revealed that some women have access to government grants and subsidized
farming inputs. The study also found that some women have trouble adapting to climate change
because they are vulnerable in marriage due to cultural barriers, husband restrictions, and the fact
that they do not own many valuable assets. Results also revealed that some women do not
participate in development activities and do not have the power to make decisions about
household spending.