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Story and Perspective

The Transformative Power of Pathfinder’s Climate Resilience Innovations

Barbara Merz

Pathfinder Niger

Egypt Burundi Pakistan Niger Ethiopia Kenya Bangladesh Tanzania

At Pathfinder, we’ve seen that investing in women and girls is key to climate resilience. In many of the countries where Pathfinder works, including Pakistan, Niger, Egypt, Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Bangladesh, and Tanzania, we are seeing our program innovations strengthen the ability of communities to thrive amid a changing climate. These programs are advancing sexual reproductive health and rights while responding to the distinct needs of people experiencing the detrimental impacts of climate change.

Locally led programs build models for better health and climate change resilience.

Women in Rurale Commune of Tondikandia received training on improved agricultural techniques to help them withstand drought and climate change. These techniques include using climate-resistant seeds and sustainable farming practices. Photo: kadidiatou

Our programs are effective because they are led by our local teams who are from the very communities they serve. In Niger, for example, Dr. Sani Aliou and his team led the Tangamo (Zarma for “resistance”) pilot project that has become a model for building women’s resilience to the effects of climate change.

Niger continues to suffer from severe degradation of land and natural resources, which has a significant impact on food security and household livelihoods. The scarcity of rains and the impoverishment of the soil lead to a chronic deficit in agricultural production, leading to women’s migration from rural households. Migration has a negative impact on women’s health—but thanks to Tangamo, women were better able to access voluntary family planning services, had improved land rights, and gained new skills and resources for climate-resilient livelihoods.

Our team in Niger documented what they learned from the project in this video featuring community members. The video highlights the importance of this work in communities and how much promise there is for this work in the decade to come.

Pilot investments can be the beginning of something extraordinary.

In Pakistan, as well, we’ve seen how a series of modest investments can lead to great success. In 2020, we launched I am Resilient, I am Change (ڌرتي Sindhi for Mother Earth). This project focused on climate-induced water insecurity in the Tharparkar district, located in the southern part of Pakistan’s Sindh province. In this rural region, women and girls suffer most from the impact of climate threats like drought, heat, and floods. The project partnered with farming communities to transform gender norms and attitudes that perpetuate violence against women. We engaged policymakers, and university students to enhance collaboration between climate change, health, and women’s rights advocacy groups. This project has created strong networks to influence the impact of climate change on communities and policies to be more gender equitable.

Over time, work like this can have transformative effects.

Adolescent migrant girls from the village of Sofani find support and training at a migrant reception center in Niamey, Niger. They receive education on health, family planning and gender-based violence. Photo: Alhassane Oumarou

You can see the long-term impact of our work that advances sexual and reproductive health and rights while protecting the environment in the Tuungane project’s 10-year anniversary video just released by The Nature Conservancy. Tuungane (Kiswahili for “Let’s Unite!”), a partnership between Pathfinder and The Nature Conservancy, contributed to healthier families, fisheries, and forests in western Tanzania’s Greater Mahale Ecosystem.

We’re proud to be part of such a successful partnership that, through integrated programming, has contributed to a community-led evolution towards climate resilience. We have had solid support for this work since its inception—making the results of this project a powerful testament to the impact of committed, long-term fundraising and philanthropic investment.  

We’ve seen how weaving climate resilience into our work changes the lives of women, girls, and their communities. Climate resilience does not happen overnight, but our growing portfolio of projects sow the seeds for future flourishing. Pathfinder is built to respond to the unique needs of each community where we work. As communities are facing the impacts of a changing climate it’s a powerful time to walk the path with communities, anticipating and building resilience in myriad ways.

Read more about our climate resilience work and check out our Solutions Guide for Climate, Gender, and Health.

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