In October 2015 All We Can’s partners from around the world gathered in Ethiopia for the Walking Together in Partnership conference. In addition to training, discussion and planning opportunities there was time to meet other organisations working in challenging contexts and to discuss some of the issues facing those working with some of the poorest communities in the world. Junior Vutoyi, Programme Officer with Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA) in Zimbabwe, and Fredica Baguma, Director of Rural Health Promotion and Poverty Alleviation Initiative (RUHEPAI) in Uganda, spent time discussing their concerns about climate change:
Fredica: I see that things are changing. In the past in Uganda it was always warm but now when you feel the sun on your skin it is hot, as if your skin is on fire. The weather is no longer the same and we see this most clearly when it comes to the production of crops. We rely on rain for everything, for our crops, for our livestock, for everything. When the rains don’t come the people are able to produce less, this then has a big impact on their wellbeing. We really feel there is something wrong with our climate.
Junior: In Muzarabani District in Zimbabwe, one of the areas we are working, they are now seeing floods almost each and every year. When they see the rains now they fear being affected so much. So it is either a drought or floods! As a result the harvests are never good.
Climate change has really affected the type of poverty experienced in the rural areas of Zimbabwe. The people used to earn a living from the land. Most people in Zimbabwe earn a living from agriculture. Now, with the droughts and the floods, a person cannot provide easily for their family. Their livelihoods are greatly affected and that has caused a lot of poverty.
Fredica: When we discuss this we should all think about how we interpret climate change, let us not just discuss it in theory. We need to bring it down to the practical level. If we are looking for solutions to climate change then we need to think about the practical solutions – what exactly do we need to do? Can we plant trees? Can we recycle? Let us have a practical solution instead of just saying things that stay in theory.
Junior: We have the solutions already on paper. Now it is about implementing those solutions. Unfortunately in much of Africa it is difficult to implement things because of funding. We know that this is also an issue that is only going to be tackled with a change of behaviour in all of our countries. People need to change their attitudes towards their land and the world around them. It is about education, training and then a change in the way we think.
Junior: When the world leaders come together in December they should be thinking of the people at the grassroots, they should be creating policies that actually change people’s lives for the better. Policies that protect people from the impacts of climate change.
Fredica: Yes! We need a radical solution to climate change. We should tell the people that what is affecting us is real. So when these leaders are meeting together, I ask them: can we come up with a mechanism that really contributes to combating climate change?
In December, world leaders have an opportunity to agree a new global climate deal. We believe that a strong and fair agreement is needed, with appropriate support for developing countries. Have your say and send a message to the British Prime Minister to let him know you are concerned about climate change and its impact on poor communities.