Health and Climate Change Experts Urge African Governments to Integrate SRHR into Climate Policies

Players in the health and climate change sectors have called upon African governments to prioritize the integration of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) into climate change policies, warning that ignoring such aspects can lead to incomplete strategies that fail to address the needs of vulnerable populations.

Clive Mutunga, Senior Research and Policy Analyst at the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP), made the remarks Thursday morning at the Bingu wa Mutharika International Convention Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi during the launch of “Taking Stock: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Climate Commitments: An African Review,” a side event at the ongoing 9th African Population Conference.

The report found that only 17 out of 46 African countries have integrated SRHR into their national climate change policies, with no country including child marriage in their climate change strategies, despite its relevance to both SRHR and climate resilience.

Mutunga: SRHR issues need to be integrated in Climate Change Policies

Reacting to the report, Mutunga described the findings as both significant and concerning, highlighting the urgency of adopting an intersectional approach that seamlessly weaves together family planning, reproductive health, and environmental sustainability.

“We must ensure that climate change projects, whether adaptation or mitigation, recognize and fund components of SRHR. This is where we should focus as a community: moving from policy recognition to program action and linking these issues to see many projects funded in-country from climate funding,” said Mutunga.

Mutunga also expressed hope for more robust commitments in the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), emphasizing the need for continued advocacy and action.

“We hope that in the next round of NDCs, we will see more commitment to these conversations. Personally, I want to see these commitments translate into funded projects and programs that address SRHR. This is essential, and advocates in this room and beyond can use this evidence for various advocacy purposes,” he added.

Participants following the presentation of the report

Lydia Zigomo, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Regional Director for East and Southern Africa, also emphasized the critical need to integrate SRHR needs into national climate policies, noting that SRHR are often neglected during climate-related disturbances such as floods.

According to Zigomo, the negligence of SRHR brings dire consequences for women and girls, such as losing access to family planning services, which exposes them to unintended pregnancies in dangerous conditions.

“Progressive women may lack or have very limited access to delivery and emergency obstetric care services, especially for life-threatening complications. Women and girls lose access to safe and dignified menstrual health when a climate disaster strikes,” she said.

In October 2023, UNFPA, in partnership with Queen Mary University in London and with support from IDRC, launched a global assessment on the integration of SRHR in national climate policy.

The research findings revealed that climate change significantly affects various areas such as gender-based violence, child marriage, maternal health, mental health, loss of livelihoods and its consequences, malnutrition, and more.

They conducted a global review of 119 countries along with specific regional reviews for three regions, each consisting of a set number of countries that had submitted their NDCs since 2020.

Sosten Mpinganjira

Sosten Mpinganjira is a news reporter with a track record of delivering timely and accurate news stories. With vast experience working with renowned news electronic, press, and online outlets, he has honed his reporting skills and has a deep understanding of the media landscape. He has a knack for delivering breaking news with accuracy and insight. He is dedicated to keeping his readers informed about current events and trends that shape our world.

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