There’s a measure of tragic irony in the fact that, for years, we’ve had to explain to people that even though we’re called Global Care we are about children, not the environment… and now we are learning that caring about children also, increasingly, means caring about the environment.
The poorest are hit hardest by climate change. They feel the impact first and worst, having no resources to fall back on when hit by drought, floods, cyclones and other weather-related challenges They may also live in areas with particularly vulnerable geography – like low-lying parts of Bangladesh threatened by rising sea levels.
Studies also show that higher temperatures decrease productivity, reduce crop yields, and affect cognitive functioning – factors which combine to keep people in poverty, and make efforts to lift people out of poverty less effective. In May 2019, a cross-parliamentary group of MPs tasked with scrutinising aid spending called for more focus on strategies to tackle climate challenges, in order to make poverty alleviation more effective.
This is not just theory, or politics. Here at Global Care we are increasingly seeing the impact of climate-related challenges in the communities served by our international partners.
In just one batch of reports in July this year, our partners in Mumbai, India, reported severe flooding, including the deaths of three young people in Kalyan, near our centre, and the loss of slum housing leaving many Dalit families homeless. Our partners in Cambodia reported that the rains did not come, and the harvest failed. Our partners in Kenya reported an acute water shortage caused by drought – securing supplies of clean water for the school in Kibera was problematic.
Extreme temperatures were reported by our partners in Kolkata, India (41 degrees) and Bangladesh (43 degrees). Children at our project in Bangladesh suffered terribly from an itchy heat rash, while in Kolkata our partners reported that more children were falling sick in the heat, and were more prone to infections. Our partners in Zimbabwe lost essential crops and suffered property damage in the wake of Cyclone Idai, as previously reported.
Please pray for our partners, for wisdom and protection as they manage such challenges, and for the international community to work together effectively to tackle underlying causes.