RESEARCHERS at a Scots university have launched a study to find out if an increase in gender-based violence and mental health problems is due to climate change.

Glasgow Caledonian University’s Centre for Climate Justice will conduct research in Malawi, which has been adversely affected by climate disasters and has a long-standing problem with mental health issues and violence based on gender.

The project, which will run until March next year, will seek data through the testimonies of people who have experienced global warming problems, mental health issues and violence. The aim is to ensure solutions to climate change issues do not increase risk for mental health or gender-based violence for vulnerable groups.

According to the researchers, the south-eastern African country is highly vulnerable to climate change and can experience extreme and unpredictable weather events such as drought, flooding and cyclones. This can contribute towards food shortages, water contamination, loss of homes or livelihoods and displacement, which negatively impacts on the population’s physical and mental health.

However, Professor Tahseen Jafry, director of the Centre for Climate Justice, said there had been little research to date exploring the relationship between these issues, the overlapping risk factors and the extent of the problem.

The project has been funded by the Scottish Government and supported by Life Concern Malawi.