No sustainable humanitarian relief without preparation for climate change

24th August 2021

ACT Alliance members respond daily to humanitarian crises all around the globe – from building shelters for people who lost their homes to earthquakes or floods, to providing life-saving WASH infrastructures , to helping those in need with cash assistance.

The crises that members are asked to respond to are growing in number and intensity and many of those emergencies are climate-induced disasters. The evidence is overwhelming: climate change will influence our work even more in the future.

The climate emergency humanity is facing is and will have severe consequences on the foundations of human life, namely on water supply and on crops, putting millions of people at risk of severe malnutrition. The fight for water and land could aggravate existing larger scale conflicts and lead to political instability and mass migration.

Affecting everyone, but harshest impact on those already vulnerable

Climate change knows no border. The recent floods and wildfires in Europe and the drought in California are clear examples that nobody is and will be spared by the consequences of not reaching the Paris Agreement ambitions.

However, the harshest consequences of climate change affect vulnerable societies with limited resources the most – thus those who are already subject to poverty, conflict, and violence.

On the occasion of the World Humanitarian Day on August 19, ACT Alliance-member Community World Service produced a number video testimonies of people in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh who are experiencing intensifying heat and exceptional drought which are already impacting their food supply systems.

The voices of these people, recorded by the CWSA team, are a cry for help and a warning to politicians, but also to those working in the humanitarian field. Climate change is and will exacerbate humanitarian crises, and humanitarian relief planning must include a climate perspective and prepare for what is coming.

This can only be done in cooperation with local communities, making sure that every crisis is also an opportunity for them to become more resilient to future natural and man-made disasters.

 

Pathani – Video CWSA

«We are experiencing water scarcity due to increasing warm weather and lack of rains. Our crops and cattle are dying as a result of the shortage. We have to plant more trees and plants in our villages and overcome this negative impact of climate change.” (Pathani, community member, Umerkot, Pakistan)

Hakin Chan – Video CWSA

«There have been no rains in the area, and the pollution from the brick production is severely damaging our ecosystem. Because of our agricultural activities, we are extremely reliant on rain and livestock. Our communities and livelihoods are being negatively impacted by changes in rainfall patterns.” (Hakin Chan, community member, Umerkot, Pakistan).

Chandi – Video CWSA

“CWS Asia provided water harvest tanks to our village. Due to a lack of water, we collect rainwater and store it in the tanks which we subsequently use to irrigate our kitchen gardens, wash clothes, and feed cattle. Brine water is harmful to both humans and cattle. Therefore, rainwater conservation is assisting us in coping with water shortage in our area.” (Chandi, kitchen gardener, Umerkot, Pakistan)

Marwa – Video CWSA

“We did not have access to safe drinking water. CWS Asia constructed a Reverse Osmosis plant (water purification system) in our community which has supplied residents with sweet water to drink. We are now safe from the health risks by polluted, brine water in our area. We are also engaged in kitchen gardening to provide our families with nutritious home-grown veggies, resulting in improved health and forestation.” (Marwa, kitchen gardener, Umerkot, Pakistan)

Seeta – Video CWSA

“Previously, we cooked on traditional mud-built stoves with a single burner that produced a continuous plume of smoke. Out health was suffering as a result of spending so much time in the kitchen. Using fuel-efficient stoves, on the other hand, has decreased health hazards since we don’t burn our hands and less smoke is produced. We use less wood, resulting in less deforestation in our vicinity.” (Seeta, housewife, Umerkot, Pakistan)


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