Saturday, 21 April 2007

Climate change affects us all

I have a bad habit of reading climate change reports and looking at how it will have an effect on my own life. But I live in a part of the world which could adapt: many don't.

ActionAid is an international agency fighting poverty in 42 countries worldwide. They have published a report that says climate change is being felt very acutely by some of the poorest communities. (The full report can be downloaded as a pdf file).

Of particular interest to me is the report, that in Malawi 90% of the 6.3 million living below the poverty line rely on subsistence farming to survive at all. They are already farming in fairly extreme conditions, so any changes in climate have considerable impact. They are themselves aware that their food production has decreased because of frequent flooding and drought.

  1. They no longer know when is the best time to plant. The rainy season used to start in October but during the 70s started moving to November and now starts in December. They therefore ought to be using a fast-maturing crop to allow for the shorter season but
    privatisation of seed companies means that hybrids developed are too expensive for many.
  2. The change in rainfall has caused an increase in certain diseases such as malaria, cholera and dysentry. It falls to the women to care for the sick, and this then prevents them working in the fields.
  3. The floods and droughts happen more often, leaving little time to recover and adapt.
  4. Deforestation is increasing and existing laws to control it are not being enforced.
  5. The decrease in livelihood is forcing more people to look for work elsewhere, which in turn is forcing women into unsafe sex, thus increasing the risk of HIV/AIDS.
These findings are echoed by the IPCC (Intergoernmental Panel on Climate Change) report which is a pdf file of 23 pages. See also this IRIN report.


  1. what a very infomative post....yes the change in climate does effect the growing seasons...but I didn't really think about the farmers and having to get hybrids or faster growing crops....and shame on the large manufacturers for taking advantage of the situation. Some things will never change....big corporation greed....a lot for so few and a little for so many.....

    So terribly frustrating....

  2. Has this change come on quickly, or does the rainy season tend to fluctuate, for example, year by year?

  3. Thanks smalltown rn, for your comment, and you're right, it is shame on the manufacturers.

    Nettie, no I believe this has been going on, though slowly, for something like 30 years. Yes there are fluctuations, but the average onset of the rainy season has been moving gradually over all this time.


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