Empowering women for disaster risk reduction in Myanmar

Featured

[Individual articles from the Summer 2017 issue of Intersections will be posted on this blog each week. The full issue can be found on MCC’s website.]

Rakhine, the second poorest state in Myanmar, is frequently exposed to natural hazards, including cyclones, flooding, landslides, earthquakes, droughts, tsunamis and fires in forested and rural areas. Climate change models predict that Myanmar over the coming years and decades will experience increased temperatures, more frequent and intense drought periods, changing rainfall patterns and an increased risk of flooding, as well as more frequent and intense extreme weather events resulting in storm and flood surges and sea-level rise that will affect almost all communities across the country. Communities in Rakhine are already facing a variety of these impacts. Rakhine is also at risk of complex disasters exacerbated by natural hazards: a combination of food shortages, fragile or failing economic, political, and social institutions and internal conflict that leads to displacement of people. Rakhine suffers from a long-standing political and military conflict between the central government, the Myanmar Army and Buddhist nationalists, on the one hand, and the Arakan Army and the Rohingya Muslim community, on the other. Additionally, the Rakhine/Arakan Army has conflicts with other indigenous groups in Rakhine (the national government recognizes 135 ethnic groups in Myanmar): fighting has repeatedly displaced people from their homes and villages, thereby increasing their vulnerability. A lack of resources and education, coupled with these complex social relationships in a multi-layered, multi-religious and ethnic group state, add to the vulnerability of the people in Rakhine.

Women in Rakhine are disproportionately vulnerable to complex disasters, natural hazards and climate change impacts due to cultural beliefs, traditional practices and socio-economic conditions. Women are more likely than men to experience increased loss of livelihoods and gender-based violence. In some situations, they have experienced greater loss of life during and after a disaster. Women for the World (WFW), a Yangon-based Myanmar non-governmental organization (NGO), partners with the Indigenous Women’s Coalition for Peace (IWCP) in Rakhine to reduce risk and increase resilience. They believe that gender and indigenous identity are critical elements for addressing climate change impacts and disaster risk. The integration of Rakhine indigenous women’s local knowledge and their practices in disaster mitigation, preparation and response efforts are essential for reducing risk and increasing resilience.

WFW and IWCP work with diverse women’s savings groups to increase understanding of the impacts of climate change, assess their local knowledge and increase their capacity to prepare for and respond to disaster events. WFW’s primary belief is that while women are the most vulnerable members of the community, they are also the agents for change. In Rakhine, a lack of employment opportunities has resulted in the migration of men and young women to find work outside of their villages, leaving women, the elderly and children to deal with the aftermath of natural hazards. Women are the caregivers for children, the sick and the elderly; they are often the sole breadwinners, as men, older boys and girls leave to seek job opportunities in urban centers or across borders; they are responsible for securing food; they are informal healthcare providers; they are responsible for the safekeeping of livestock; and they are responsible for finding and maintaining fresh drinking water supplies. Women are more restricted in travel and are more likely to be restricted from owning land, from borrowing or investing money, and from diversifying livelihoods through starting a new business.

Conversely, women are also holders of essential cultural, historical and economic knowledge within their communities, making them vital participants in efforts to decrease disaster risk. Women manage environmental resources to sustain their households and act as informal healthcare providers. They have survival and coping skills to respond to disasters, have local community networks and possess local knowledge of the community, including the location and needs of the most vulnerable (the elderly, children, persons with disabilities) during a crisis, making them critical players in disaster risk reduction (DRR).

WFW and the IWCP gather women to build peace and resilience together through a women’s savings group model. In addition to training on group formation and savings management, group members also receive training about women’s rights, conflict transformation, domestic violence and DRR. They are taught to conduct village mapping to assess the vulnerabilities in their villages, from infrastructure mapping to household and community population mapping. Representatives from each group, representing different ethnicities, meet together to receive in-depth conflict transformation and disaster management trainings which they take back to their groups. Members of the IWCP continue working with the savings groups, supporting them as they learn and plan.

WFW operates from the assumption that women cannot begin adapting to climate change if they do not believe they can. To strengthen self-reliance, WFW employs a participatory learning process. WFW trainers first raise awareness among women’s groups in an atmosphere of openness to women’s stories and experiences in disasters as a method of learning and naming what the women already know. For example, women already know that shelter for women and children is vulnerable to natural hazards and that the safest cyclone resistant shelter does not provide privacy to women and children. They know that rains are increasing and temperatures are rising, leading to greater malaria incidences and the need for more mosquito nets. After WFW staff have introduced the process of village mapping, they step back (to their Yangon office) while the savings groups create village maps that identify geographic strengths and weaknesses, households (including the number of family members in each household) and the most vulnerable persons and where they live (the elderly, young children, persons with disabilities). The women also mark the location of their livestock, schools, fishing boats and other community and household assets.

In WFW trainings, group members learn skills for assessing risks and vulnerability and for identifying sustainable adaptation solutions for their communities. Savings group members report that the support they receive through the group makes them less vulnerable. Through the savings group, women can access loans to start small businesses, diversifying their bases of income. One group trained by WFW is building a safe and hygienic latrine to decrease the risk of disease. Other groups are advocating for improved early warning systems in indigenous languages, especially related to weather forecast news, and for more detailed information regarding the nature of hazards so communities can be better prepared to respond. WFW-trained groups have publicly identified cyclone resistant buildings in every village that can adequately serve as secure shelters. In the event of a natural hazard, the women are prepared to secure livestock in a safe place where they can be maintained until the risk has abated and to store food and water in a secure space. After flooding, women rebuild their homes to be more flood resistant, drawing upon loans through their savings group. Recognizing the need to improve rice growing practices to decrease vulnerability to climate change, groups have strengthened their relationships with the government’s agricultural department to secure technical assistance. One group has already seen increased yields after using a savings group loan to lease a training plot and accessing technical support from the government agricultural department. Empowered by the social and organizational support from savings groups, women have formed DRR management teams in their villages tasked with providing accessible information about potential risks and developing record-keeping practices to help assess potential disaster situations and track changes to facilitate ongoing adaptability.

The role of vulnerable people in risk reduction measures should not be underestimated. When women become involved in addressing their vulnerabilities, they are encouraged and empowered to continue making improvements in their communities. If women’s roles and local knowledge are not included in disaster planning and response, disaster risk reduction interventions will be ineffective in reducing risk. Women are vital and powerful agents of change: it is imperative that they are participants in disaster planning, preparation and response. When WFW, the IWCP and diverse women’s savings groups in Rakhine join together to assess local knowledge and integrate this knowledge into DRR planning and action, they reduce the risks posed by natural and complex disasters and empower women to create a more peaceful, resilient and adaptive society.

Sandra Reisinger is MCC representative for Myanmar, based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Van Lizar is director of Women for the World (WFW), an MCC partner organization in Myanmar.

Learn more

Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation. Myanmar Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan (MCCSAP) 2016–2030. (July 2016). Available at http://myanmarccalliance.org/mcca/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/MCCA-Strategy_ActionPlan_11July2016V1.pdf.

Enarson, E. Working with Women at Risk: Practical Guidelines for Assessing Local Disaster Risk. (April 2002). Available at http://reliefweb.int/report/world/working-women-risk-practical-guidelines-assessing-local-disaster-risk.

Mitchel, T., Tanner, T., and Lussier, K. We Know What We Need: South Asian Women Speak Out on Climate Change Adaptation. Action Aid. (November 2007). Available at http://www.actionaid.org/publications/we-know-what-we-need-south-asian-women-speak-out-climate-change-adaptation.

UNISDR. Making Disaster Risk Reduction Gender-Sensitive: Policy and Practical Guidelines. Geneva, Switzerland: United Nations, 2009. Available at http://www.unisdr.org/files/9922_MakingDisasterRiskReductionGenderSe.pdf.

UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction. Mobilizing Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction: High Level Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Dialogue. (March 2015). Available at http://www.wcdrr.org/uploads/Mobilizing-Women%E2%80%99s-Leadership-in-Disaster-Risk-Reduction.pdf.

Cambio climático y seguridad alimentaria en América Latina y el Caribe

[Articulos Individuales de la edicion de Intersecciones de Verano de 2017 se publicaran en este blog cada semana. La edicion completa puede ser encontrada en MCC’s website.]

Los grupos asociados del CCM y sus comunidades en América Latina y el Caribe cada vez más sienten los efectos del cambio climático sobre la seguridad alimentaria. En febrero de 2017, el CCM reunió a representantes de once países de América Latina y el Caribe en un encuentro para compartir experiencias y conocimientos sobre los temas del cambio climático y seguridad alimentaria y aprender cómo el CCM puede apoyarles mejor en la adaptación al cambio climático. Si bien los desafíos que enfrentan son muchos, los grupos asociados del CCM y sus comunidades están respondiendo fortaleciendo los esfuerzos colectivos para la mitigación de desastres y aumento de la seguridad alimentaria, incluyendo el empleo de prácticas innovadoras de agricultura y manejo de recursos naturales y abogando para influir en las políticas que afectan a sus recursos naturales.

Aunque las personas participantes en esta consulta representaron a organizaciones de diversos contextos, surgieron temas comunes en sus conversaciones relacionadas con el cambio climático y su efecto sobre la seguridad alimentaria en sus comunidades. Los impactos del cambio climático observados por los grupos asociados incluyeron condiciones de sequía, patrones de precipitación impredecibles y temperaturas elevadas. Las fechas en que las lluvias han llegado normalmente, señalando el inicio del tiempo de siembra, se han vuelto poco fiables, mientras que las lluvias más tarde en la temporada se han vuelto esporádicas. La investigación científica confirma la evidencia anecdótica presentada por estas organizaciones de que el cambio climático está ocurriendo. El Grupo Intergubernamental de Expertos sobre el Cambio Climático informa sobre los aumentos de temperatura en América Central y América del Sur, así como la disminución de las lluvias en Centroamérica. Se prevé que las regiones vulnerables experimentarán cambios continuos en la disponibilidad de agua debido a la disminución de las lluvias en general. Además, los fenómenos climáticos extremos inusuales han afectado gravemente a la región de América Latina, aumentando la vulnerabilidad de las comunidades ante el desastre. Mientras que los estudios sugieren que, gracias al cambio climático, en el futuro será posible cultivar maíz, yuca, arroz y sorgo en áreas donde, actualmente, tales cultivos no son posibles, casi la mitad de los municipios perderán alguna aptitud climática para sostener los cultivos actuales, especialmente café, frijoles y plátanos. El cambio climático ha tenido un impacto negativo significativo en la seguridad alimentaria en la región debido a sequías, patrones estacionales impredecibles y nuevas infestaciones de insectos que afectan la producción agrícola. Un número cada vez mayor de personas, especialmente jóvenes, están migrando a las ciudades u otros países porque ya no ven los medios de subsistencia rurales como opciones viables.

Los efectos del cambio climático en la seguridad alimentaria han dado lugar a desafíos comunes para las organizaciones de desarrollo de América Latina y el Caribe al implementar programas de seguridad alimentaria. En primer lugar, si bien los grupos asociados del CCM desean crear conciencia sobre el cambio climático para que las comunidades locales no contribuyan al problema, la falta de entendimiento científico dentro de las comunidades sobre las causas del cambio climático plantea desafíos. Algunas comunidades tienen explicaciones culturales o no científicas para el cambio climático, atribuyendo el cambio climático a que “la lluvia está siendo atada” debido a la falta de fe o al trabajo de espíritus o maldiciones. Estos supuestos erróneos sobre el cambio climático aumentan la dificultad de concienciar y cambiar las prácticas actuales en las comunidades, ya que los miembros de la comunidad no disciernen con facilidad lo que pueden cambiar y cuando necesitan centrarse en la adaptación.

En segundo lugar, los grupos asociados del CCM y sus comunidades luchan para saber cómo equilibrar las necesidades inmediatas de hambre derivadas de las pérdidas de cosechas con la implementación de estrategias de desarrollo a largo plazo y cuidado del medio ambiente. Varias organizaciones han prestado asistencia alimentaria a corto plazo para ayudar a sus comunidades a superar la brecha en las necesidades alimentarias durante los períodos de hambre. Sin embargo, esta estrategia plantea interrogantes sobre la visión a largo plazo, y los grupos asociados preguntan cuánto tiempo puede o debe llevarse a cabo la asistencia alimentaria y cómo la asistencia alimentaria estacional podría integrarse mejor en los esfuerzos de seguridad alimentaria a largo plazo.

En respuesta a estos desafíos, los grupos asociados del CCM implementan estrategias comunes para proteger y fortalecer la seguridad alimentaria ante el cambio climático. Estas organizaciones enfatizan la importancia de desarrollar estructuras que conecten entre sí a pequeños agricultores y sus comunidades. Al trabajar en conjunto de manera organizada, las personas agricultoras pueden ser más eficaces para adaptarse al cambio climático y mejorar la seguridad alimentaria aumentando las oportunidades de comercialización, así como sus esfuerzos colectivos para buscar el apoyo del gobierno local y nacional. Los grupos asociados también destacan la agroforestería como una estrategia que, a través de la siembra de árboles frutales, proporciona alimentos e ingresos, al tiempo que mitiga el riesgo de deslizamientos de tierra mediante la reforestación de áreas degradadas y propensas a deslizamientos. Los grupos asociados del CCM buscan una mayor capacitación en diversificación de cultivos y técnicas agrícolas mejoradas, uso de cultivos resistentes a la sequía o variedades de semillas, mejoramiento de las cadenas de valor a través del procesamiento o transformación de productos agrícolas y estrategias de conservación de agua y suelo. Una mejor capacitación y aprendizaje permitirá a las personas agricultoras fortalecer su potencial para la producción de alimentos y adaptarse a los impactos del cambio climático. Por último, estos grupos asociados reconocen la importancia de abogar a los diferentes niveles de gobierno para que influyan en las políticas y prácticas que serán clave para la protección de los recursos de agua y suelo locales y, por lo tanto, para la adaptación al cambio climático.

Uno de los grupos asociados del CCM en Bolivia, OBADES (Organización Bautista de Desarrollo Social), está utilizando algunas de estas estrategias para mejorar la producción agrícola en la región montañosa de Cocapata con el fin de aumentar los ingresos y la seguridad alimentaria de las familias afectadas por la sequía. OBADES apoya a las comunidades en la construcción de zanjas de infiltración de agua con el fin de recoger el agua de escorrentía de pendientes empinadas. A su vez, esta agua se utiliza para regar la papa y otros cultivos de hortalizas, así como para alimentar los acuíferos en las zonas bajas. El personal imparte capacitación a las personas agricultoras sobre la producción de cultivos orgánicos, ordenación de los recursos naturales, conservación del suelo y uso eficiente del agua de escorrentía. El proyecto también promueve la producción de maca (una raíz rica en valor nutricional) como cultivo comercial y fortalece las asociaciones de productores comunitarios para proporcionar mayores oportunidades de procesar y vender productos de maca. Estas
estrategias proporcionan ingresos adicionales a las familias campesinas y les ayudan a hacer frente a la sequía, reduciendo así la pobreza, disminuyendo las tasas de migración y mejorando la seguridad alimentaria en la comunidad.

En Haití, los esfuerzos agroforestales han ayudado a mitigar los desastres. El CCM trabaja actualmente con 22 comunidades vulnerables en el valle de Artibonite para mejorar la seguridad alimentaria trabajando con pequeños agricultores locales y comités de viveros para cultivar y distribuir semillas de árboles frutales y no frutales, establecer huertos familiares agroforestales y reforestar áreas montañosas degradadas. Como parte de su programa de agroforestería, el CCM ha creado clubes infantiles para proporcionar jardines experimentales y prácticos para que la niñez participe en el aprendizaje sobre seguridad alimentaria, nutrición y protección del medio ambiente. Las niñas y niños, a su vez, influencian a sus madres y padres, quienes toman las decisiones en torno a la comida. Además, las personas agricultoras mejoran sus tierras de cultivo utilizando métodos de cultivo intercalado y plantando una diversidad de cultivos para aumentar y diversificar la producción. La producción agrícola se respalda a través de bancos de granos que permiten a las personas agricultoras almacenar semillas para la próxima temporada y que pueden servir como almacenamiento de alimentos en caso de sequías futuras. El trabajo de reforestación a largo plazo que el CCM ha apoyado durante los últimos 30 años en Haití probablemente mitigó los impactos del huracán Matthew en 2016. Después del huracán, el personal del CCM señaló que las comunidades con trabajos de reforestación significativos tuvieron menos huertos y casas destruidas, junto con menos derrumbes. La cubierta adicional de árboles de los esfuerzos de reforestación probablemente lentificó los vientos a nivel del suelo y aseguró la tierra para evitar deslizamientos. Las áreas más bajas que tenían reforestado la tierra a su alrededor también experimentaron menos inundaciones, probablemente como resultado de los árboles adicionales en las pendientes que ayudan al agua a absorberse más rápidamente en el suelo, lo que conduce a menos escorrentía hacia las zonas bajas.

Los grupos asociados le solicitan al CCM que les acompañe mientras enfrentan desafíos y desarrollan estrategias para responder al cambio climático. Durante el encuentro en Haití este invierno pasado, los grupos asociados enfatizaron la necesidad de que el CCM apoye la colaboración y fortalezca alianzas, redes y conexiones entre los asociados locales, comunidades y países para ayudar a estimular a la gente en su trabajo y promover el intercambio de conocimiento. Los asociados pidieron al CCM que se concentrara más en el trabajo de prevención y mitigación de desastres y produjera materiales educativos relacionados con las causas del cambio climático y estrategias clave para la seguridad alimentaria. Alentaron al CCM a utilizar su posición como organización internacional para apoyar los esfuerzos locales, regionales, nacionales e internacionales de incidencia con y en nombre de sus grupos asociados. Si bien el cambio climático y su impacto en la seguridad alimentaria presenta una multitud de desafíos para los grupos asociados de América Latina y el Caribe, sus esfuerzos diarios en las comunidades afectadas por el clima animan y desafían al CCM a apoyarles en la realización de este trabajo.

Darrin Yoder es coordinador regional de desastres para Centroamérica y Haití con el CCM. Vive en Managua, Nicaragua.

Aprende más

Carballo Escobar, C., Montiel Fernandez, W., and Ponce Lanza, R. Impactos y Alternativas de los Granos Básicos en Nicaragua ante el Cambio Climático. 2014. Available at http://www.humboldt.org.ni/node/1681.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2014. Available at http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/.

Schmidt A., Eitzinger, A., Sonder, K., and Sain, G. Tortillas on the Roaster (ToR) Central American MaizeBean Systems and the Changing Climate: Full Technical Report. 2012. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276099395_Tortillas_on_the_roaster_ToR_Central_American_maize-bean_systems_and_the_changing_climate_full_technical_report.

World Bank; CIAT. Climate-Smart Agriculture in Nicaragua. CSA Country Profiles for Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean Series. Washington D.C.: The World Bank Group, 2015. Available at https://ccafs.cgiar.org/publications/climate-smart-agriculture-nicaragua#.WRMKKGnyuUk.

Climate change and food security in Latin America and the Caribbean

Featured

[Individual articles from the Summer 2017 issue of Intersections will be posted on this blog each week. The full issue can be found on MCC’s website.]

MCC partners and their communities in Latin America and the Caribbean increasingly feel the effects of climate change on food security. In February 2017, MCC hosted partner representatives from eleven countries across Latin America and the Caribbean for an encounter to share experiences and knowledge around the themes of climate change and food security and to learn how MCC can best support them in climate change adaptation. While the challenges they face are many, MCC partners and their communities are responding by strengthening collective efforts for disaster mitigation and increased food security, including employing innovative agriculture and natural resource management practices and advocating to influence policies that affect their natural resources.

Although participants in this consultation represented organizations from a variety of contexts, common themes emerged in their conversations related to climate change and its effect on food security in their communities. Climate change impacts observed by partners included drought conditions, unpredictable rainfall patterns and elevated temperatures. Dates when rains have typically arrived, signaling the start of planting time, have become unreliable, while rains later in the season have become sporadic. Scientific research confirms the anecdotal evidence presented by these organizations that climate change is occurring. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports temperature increases in Central and South America, as well as decreased rainfall in Central America. Already vulnerable regions are expected to see continued changes in water availability due to decreased rainfall overall. In addition, unusual extreme weather events have severely affected the Latin America region, increasing the vulnerability of communities to disaster. While studies suggest that, thanks to climate change, it may in the future be possible to grow maize, cassava, rice and sorghum in areas where such cultivation is not currently possible, almost half of municipalities will lose some climatic suitability to sustain current crops, especially coffee, beans and plantains. Climate change has had a significant negative impact on food security in the region due to droughts, unpredictable seasonal patterns and new insect infestations affecting agricultural production. Increasing numbers of people, especially youth, are migrating to cities or other countries because they no longer view rural livelihoods as viable options.

Second, MCC’s partners and their communities struggle to know how to balance immediate hunger needs arising from crop losses with the implementation of strategies for long-term development and care for the environment. A number of organizations have provided short-term food assistance to help their communities bridge the gap in food needs during periods of hunger. This strategy, however, raises questions about long-term vision, with partners asking how long food assistance can or should be carried out and how seasonal food assistance might be better integrated into long-term food security efforts.

In response to these challenges, MCC’s partners deploy common strategies to protect and strengthen food security in the face of climate change. These organizations emphasize the importance of developing structures that link small-scale farmers and their communities with one another. By working together in an organized fashion, farmers can be more effective in adapting to climate change and improving food security by increasing small-scale farmer marketing opportunities as well as through collective efforts to seek support from local and national government. Partners also highlight agro-forestry as a strategy that, through the planting of fruit trees, provides food and income, while also mitigating the risk of landslides by reforesting degraded and landslide-prone areas. MCC partners seek increased training on crop diversification and improved agricultural techniques, the use of drought-resistant crops or seed varieties, improving value chains through the processing or transformation of agriculture products and strategies for water and soil conservation. Improved training and learning will allow farmers to strengthen their potential for food production and adapt to climate change impacts. Finally, these partners recognize the importance of advocating to different levels of government to influence policies and practices that will be key to the protection of local water and soil resources and thus to climate change adaptation.

One of MCC’s partners in Bolivia, OBADES (Baptist Organization of Social Development), is using some of these strategies to improve agriculture production in the highland region of Cocapata in order to increase income and food security for families impacted by drought. OBADES supports communities in constructing water infiltration ditches in order to collect water runoff from steep slopes. This water is in turn used to irrigate potato and other vegetable crops, as well as to feed aquifers in lower-lying areas. Staff provide trainings to farmers on organic crop production, natural resource management, soil conservation and the efficient use of water runoff. The project also promotes the production of maca (a root high in nutritional value) as a cash crop and strengthens community-producer associations to provide increased opportunities to process and sell maca products. These strategies provide additional income for farming families and help them cope with drought, thus reducing poverty, decreasing migration rates and improving food security in the community.

In Haiti, agro-forestry efforts have helped mitigate disaster. MCC currently works with 22 vulnerable communities in the Artibonite Valley to improve food security by working with local small-holder farmers and tree nursery committees to grow and distribute fruit and non-fruit tree seedlings, establish family agro-forestry gardens and reforest degraded mountainous areas. As part of its agro-forestry program, MCC has established kids’ clubs to provide experimental, hands-on gardens to get children involved in learning about food security, nutrition and environmental protection. Children in turn influence their parents, who make household choices around food. In addition, farmers improve their farmland by using intercropping methods and planting a diversity of crops to increase and diversify production. Agricultural production is supported through grain banks that enable farmers to store seeds for the upcoming season and that can serve as food storage in case of future droughts. The long-term reforestation work MCC has supported over the last 30 years in Haiti likely mitigated impacts of Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Post-hurricane, MCC staff noted that communities with significant reforestation work had fewer destroyed gardens and houses, along with fewer landslides. The additional tree cover from reforestation efforts likely slowed down winds at ground level and secured the soil to prevent landslides. Lower-lying areas that had reforested land above them also experienced less flooding, likely resulting from the additional trees upslope helping water absorb into the ground more quickly, leading to less runoff rushing down to lower areas.

Partners call on MCC to come alongside them as they develop strategies to respond to climate change and support food security in their communities. During the Haiti encounter this past winter, partners emphasized the need for MCC to support collaboration and strengthen alliances, networks and connections among local partners, communities and countries to help encourage people in their work and promote sharing of knowledge. Partners asked MCC to focus more on disaster prevention and mitigation work and to produce educational materials related to the causes of climate change and key strategies for food security. They encouraged MCC to use its position as an international organization to support local, regional, national and international advocacy efforts with and on behalf of its partners. While climate change and its impact on food security present a myriad of challenges for partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, their daily efforts in climate-affected communities encourage and challenge MCC to support partners as they carry out this work.

Darrin Yoder is regional disaster coordinator for Central America and Haiti with MCC. He lives in Managua, Nicaragua.

Learn more

Carballo Escobar, C., Montiel Fernandez, W., and Ponce Lanza, R. Impactos y Alternativas de los Granos Básicos en Nicaragua ante el Cambio Climático. 2014. Available at http://www.humboldt.org.ni/node/1681.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2014. Available at http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/.

Schmidt A., Eitzinger, A., Sonder, K., and Sain, G. Tortillas on the Roaster (ToR) Central American MaizeBean Systems and the Changing Climate: Full Technical Report. 2012. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276099395_Tortillas_on_the_roaster_ToR_Central_American_maize-bean_systems_and_the_changing_climate_full_technical_report.

World Bank; CIAT. Climate-Smart Agriculture in Nicaragua. CSA Country Profiles for Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean Series. Washington D.C.: The World Bank Group, 2015. Available at https://ccafs.cgiar.org/publications/climate-smart-agriculture-nicaragua#.WRMKKGnyuUk.

Adaptación y mitigación del cambio climático: ¿cuál es el papel del CCM?

[Articulos Individuales de la edicion de Intersecciones de Verano de 2017 se publicaran en este blog cada semana. La edicion completa puede ser encontrada en MCC’s website.]

El cambio climático ya ha producido impactos negativos significativos en las personas y en el medio ambiente, incluyendo el aumento del riesgo de catástrofes relacionadas con el clima. Las comunidades, gobiernos y organizaciones no gubernamentales emplean estrategias de adaptación y mitigación para responder a los riesgos del cambio climático, tratando de limitar los impactos negativos futuros y haciendo posible que las comunidades le hagan frente a los efectos adversos. ¿Cuál es la responsabilidad de las agencias de alivio, desarrollo y construcción de paz tales como el CCM que trabajan en las comunidades afectadas por el cambio climático para responder al mismo mediante la adaptación y mitigación?

Peligros, riesgo y vulnerabilidad al desastre son conceptos que se entrecruzan, pero son fundamentales para entender los enfoques más amplios de la adaptación y mitigación del cambio climático. Los peligros, en este caso, se refieren a eventos adversos naturales tales como sequías, temperaturas extremas, deslizamientos de tierra o huracanes. Vulnerabilidad es un término utilizado para describir las características o circunstancias de una comunidad que la hacen susceptible a los efectos perjudiciales de un peligro, incluyendo la exposición al peligro y la capacidad de adaptarse a sus efectos. La vulnerabilidad está influenciada por una variedad de factores, tales como el género, edad, desigualdades en la distribución de los recursos, acceso a la tecnología e información, patrones de empleo y estructuras de gobernanza. El riesgo de desastre se basa en la ocurrencia de peligros y la vulnerabilidad a esos peligros. El cambio climático no sólo aumenta la frecuencia y gravedad de muchos peligros naturales, además los impactos del cambio climático aumentan la vulnerabilidad al disminuir la capacidad de las comunidades para hacerle frente a estos eventos adversos debido a la mayor imprevisibilidad de los fenómenos climáticos, aumento del desplazamiento, degradación de la tierra y otros impactos.

La mitigación y adaptación al cambio climático son dos estrategias complementarias para reducir y gestionar el riesgo asociado con el cambio climático. La mitigación consiste en reducir las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero causadas por el ser humano en un esfuerzo por limitar el cambio climático futuro. Las estrategias de mitigación incluyen cambiar de combustibles fósiles a fuentes de energía renovables, mejorar la eficiencia energética y de transporte y aumentar los “sumideros” de carbono mediante la reforestación. La adaptación es el proceso de ajuste al cambio climático real o esperado y sus efectos. Dentro de las comunidades, la adaptación significa evitar o disminuir el daño causado por los impactos del clima o aprovechar las oportunidades beneficiosas asociadas con el cambio climático. La adaptación incluye una variedad de actividades para reducir la vulnerabilidad, incluyendo la diversificación de los ingresos y medios de subsistencia, conservación de los suelos y agua, ordenación de los recursos naturales y provisión de redes de seguridad social. Además, la reducción del riesgo de desastres es una estrategia clave para reducir el riesgo mediante esfuerzos para analizar y manejar los factores que causan situaciones de desastre tales como reducir la exposición a los peligros, disminuir la vulnerabilidad de las personas y bienes y mejorar la preparación para los desastres.

El CCM está principalmente involucrado en actividades de adaptación al cambio climático apoyando a las comunidades afectadas actualmente por el mismo. Las actividades de adaptación tienen por objeto reducir el riesgo de desastres abordando diferentes aspectos de la vulnerabilidad dentro de las comunidades y fomentando la resiliencia para resistir, absorber, acomodar y recuperarse de los efectos de los peligros relacionados con el clima. El trabajo de adaptación del CCM incluye capacitación para las personas agricultoras en agricultura conservacionista, construcción de refugios resistentes a peligros y mejor acceso a agua potable.

El CCM también está involucrado en el trabajo de mitigación, incluyendo abogar por las políticas gubernamentales que abordan el cambio climático, alentar a los constituyentes a vivir de manera sencilla, expandir los esfuerzos para implementar iniciativas de sostenibilidad dentro de las operaciones del CCM en Canadá y Estados Unidos y asociarse con la Universidad Menonita del Este y Goshen College en la fundación del Centro de Soluciones Climáticas Sostenibles para avanzar el pensamiento y acción sobre la mitigación dentro de las comunidades de fe. A nivel internacional, parte de la programación del CCM incluye esfuerzos de mitigación tales como reforestación y educación sobre el cambio climático y sostenibilidad ambiental.

El cambio climático está debilitando los esfuerzos de las organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) en el sector del desarrollo a medida que trabajan para la reducción de la pobreza, seguridad alimentaria, acceso mejorado al agua potable y otros objetivos del desarrollo. Las ONG de desarrollo están reconociendo la importancia de las estrategias de adaptación en la programación a medida que experimentan el impacto del cambio climático en la vulnerabilidad y riesgo de desastres. Si bien la adaptación es clave para reducir el riesgo asociado con los impactos del cambio climático, no aborda la causa fundamental del mismo. Tanto la mitigación como la adaptación son esenciales para una estrategia integral de reducción del riesgo climático.

Considerando la importancia de limitar los impactos futuros del cambio climático para apoyar el desarrollo sostenible, ¿qué papel deben desempeñar las ONG en los esfuerzos de mitigación? Como ministerio de iglesias en Canadá y Estados Unidos, el CCM representa a congregaciones en países que contribuyen significativamente al cambio climático y es en sí mismo un contribuyente de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero. ¿Hasta qué punto el CCM es responsable de la mitigación, tanto en lo que respecta a sus operaciones internas como a sus constituyentes ubicados en Canadá y EE.UU.?

Si bien la responsabilidad del CCM para la adaptación al cambio climático es inherente a sus prioridades de alivio en caso de desastre y desarrollo comunitario sostenible, el CCM continúa explorando su papel en la mitigación y oportunidades para un mayor compromiso en asuntos de cambio climático. A pesar de que el CCM emprende una serie de iniciativas para proteger sus operaciones, el CCM debe discernir cómo equilibrar el énfasis en los esfuerzos internos de mitigación con el deseo de implementar el programa de manera efectiva y asignar recursos eficientemente. El CCM se pregunta cómo puede asociarse mejor con otras organizaciones de ideas afines para involucrar y movilizar a las congregaciones para reducir sus emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero. Como sugieren las recientes conversaciones convocadas por el Centro de Soluciones Climáticas Sostenibles, el CCM tiene la oportunidad de unirse a otras organizaciones para abogar por políticas que aborden el cambio climático, movilizar a sus constituyentes para reducir las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero y utilizar su trabajo internacional de adaptación como plataforma para propulsar la acción relacionada con el clima conectando a los constituyentes norteamericanos con las comunidades afectadas por el cambio climático.

El trabajo del CCM está cada vez más conectado con el impacto del cambio climático en los peligros y vulnerabilidad dentro de las comunidades de todo el mundo. Para ser fiel en su misión de alivio, desarrollo y construcción de paz en el nombre de Cristo, el CCM debe considerar cuidadosamente la mejor manera de responder a los riesgos del cambio climático, al tiempo que evalúa su papel en los esfuerzos de adaptación y mitigación.

Amy Martens es investigadora asociada en el departamento de Planificación, Aprendizaje y Respuesta a Desastres del CCM.

Aprende más

Fay, Marianne, et al. Decarbonizing Development: Three Steps to a Zero-Carbon Future. Climate Change and Development Series. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2015. Available for download at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/21842.

Martens, Amy. MCC and Climate Change: Responding to Climate Change Risks. MCC, 2016. Available at https://mccintersections.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/mcc-and-climate-change-working-paper-june-20171.pdf.

Hallegatte, Stephane, et al. Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. Climate Change and Development Series. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2016. Available at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/22787/9781464806735.pdf.

Hallegatte, Stephane, et al. Unbreakable: Building the Resilience of the Poor in the Face of Natural Disasters. Climate Change and Development Series. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2017. Available for download at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/25335.

Lavell, A., Oppenheimer, M., Diop, C., Hess, J., Lempert, R., Li, J., Muir-Wood, R., and Myeong, S. “Climate Change: New Dimensions in Disaster Risk, Exposure, Vulnerability and Resilience.” In Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2012. Available at http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/report/report-graphics/ch1-figures/.

UNISDR. Terminology. 2009. Available online at https://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/terminology.

 

Climate change adaptation and mitigation: What is MCC’s role?

Featured

[Individual articles from the Summer 2017 issue of Intersections will be posted on this blog each week. The full issue can be found on MCC’s website.]

Climate change has already wrought significant adverse impacts on people and the environment, including increasing the risk of climate-related disasters. Communities, governments and non-governmental organizations employ adaptation and mitigation strategies to respond to climate change risks, seeking to limit future negative impacts and to enable communities to cope with adverse effects. What is the responsibility of relief, development and peacebuilding agencies like MCC that work in climate change-affected communities to respond to climate change through adaptation and mitigation?

The intersecting concepts of disaster risk, hazards and vulnerability are key in understanding the broader approaches of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Hazards in this case refer to natural adverse events such as droughts, extreme temperatures, landslides or hurricanes. Vulnerability is a term used to describe the characteristics or circumstances of a community that make it susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard, including exposure to the hazard and ability to cope or adapt to its effects. Vulnerability is influenced by a variety of factors, including gender, age, inequalities in the distribution of resources, access to technology and information, employment patterns and governance structures. Disaster risk is based on the occurrence of hazards and vulnerability to those hazards. Not only is climate change increasing the frequency and severity of many natural hazards, but climate change impacts are increasing vulnerability by diminishing the capacity of communities to cope with these adverse events because of greater unpredictability of climatic events, increased displacement, land degradation and other impacts.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation are two complementary strategies to reduce and manage the risk associated with climate change. Mitigation involves reducing human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit future climate change. Mitigation strategies include switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, improving energy and transportation efficiency and increasing carbon “sinks” through reforestation. Adaptation is the process of adjusting to actual or expected climate change and its effects. Within communities, adaptation means avoiding or diminishing harm from climate impacts or exploiting beneficial opportunities associated with climate change. Adaptation includes a variety of activities to reduce vulnerability, including income and livelihood diversification, soil and water conservation, natural resource management and the provision of social safety nets. In addition, disaster risk reduction is a key strategy for reducing risk through efforts to analyze and manage the factors causing disaster situations, including reducing the exposure to hazards, lessening vulnerability of people and property and improving preparedness for disaster events.

MCC is primarily involved in climate change adaptation activities by supporting communities currently affected by climate change. Adaptation activities aim to reduce disaster risk by addressing different aspects of vulnerability within communities and building resilience to resist, absorb, accommodate and recover from the effects of climate-related hazards. MCC’s adaptation work includes training for farmers in conservation agriculture, construction of shelter resistant to hazards and providing improved access to safe water.

MCC is also involved in mitigation work, including advocating for government policies that address climate change, encouraging supporters to live simply, expanding efforts to implement sustainability initiatives within MCC operations in Canada and the U.S. and partnering with Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College in the founding of the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions to advance thinking and action within faith communities on mitigation. Internationally, some of MCC’s programming includes mitigation efforts such as reforestation and education on climate change and environmental sustainability.

Climate change is undermining the efforts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the development sector as they work towards poverty reduction, food security, improved access to clean water and other development goals. Development NGOs are recognizing the importance of adaptation strategies in programming as they experience the impact of climate change on vulnerability and disaster risk. While adaptation is key in reducing risk associated with climate change impacts, it does not address the root cause of climate change. Both mitigation and adaptation are essential to a comprehensive climate risk reduction strategy.

Considering the importance of limiting future climate change impacts to support sustainable development, what role should NGOs play in mitigation efforts? As a ministry of churches in Canada and the United States, MCC represents congregations in countries that contribute significantly to climate change and is itself a contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. To what extent is MCC responsible for mitigation, both with regards to its internal operations and its constituents located in Canada and the U.S.?

While MCC’s responsibility for climate change adaptation is inherent within its priorities of disaster relief and sustainable community development, MCC continues to explore its role in mitigation and opportunities for greater engagement on climate change matters. Even as MCC undertakes a number of initiatives to green its operations, MCC must discern how to balance an emphasis on internal mitigation efforts with a desire to implement program effectively and allocate resources efficiently. MCC asks itself how it can best partner with other like-minded organizations to engage and mobilize congregations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. As recent conversations convened by the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions suggest, MCC has the opportunity to join other organizations to advocate on policies that address climate change, to mobilize its supporters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to use its international adaptation work as a platform to propel climate action by connecting North American supporters with climate change-affected communities.

MCC’s work is increasingly connected to the impact of climate change on hazards and vulnerability within communities around the world. To be faithful in its mission of relief, development and peacebuilding in the name of Christ, MCC must carefully consider how best to respond to climate change risks, while also assessing its role in adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Amy Martens is research associate in MCC’s Planning, Learning and Disaster Response department.

Learn more

Fay, Marianne, et al. Decarbonizing Development: Three Steps to a Zero-Carbon Future. Climate Change and Development Series. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2015. Available for download at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/21842.

Martens, Amy. MCC and Climate Change: Responding to Climate Change Risks. MCC, 2016. Available at https://mccintersections.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/mcc-and-climate-change-working-paper-june-20171.pdf.

Hallegatte, Stephane, et al. Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty. Climate Change and Development Series. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2016. Available at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/22787/9781464806735.pdf.

Hallegatte, Stephane, et al. Unbreakable: Building the Resilience of the Poor in the Face of Natural Disasters. Climate Change and Development Series. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2017. Available for download at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/25335.

Lavell, A., Oppenheimer, M., Diop, C., Hess, J., Lempert, R., Li, J., Muir-Wood, R., and Myeong, S. “Climate Change: New Dimensions in Disaster Risk, Exposure, Vulnerability and Resilience.” In Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 2012. Available at http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/report/report-graphics/ch1-figures/.

UNISDR. Terminology. 2009. Available online at https://www.unisdr.org/we/inform/terminology.

 

Respondiendo al cambio climático (Verano 2017)

[Articulos Individuales de la edicion de Intersecciones de Verano de 2017 se publicaran en este blog cada semana. La edicion completa puede ser encontrada en MCC’s website.]

Durante las últimas tres décadas, los científicos han observado un calentamiento sin precedentes de la superficie de la tierra como resultado de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero causadas por el ser humano. Los impactos del cambio climático, incluyendo los cambios en los patrones del clima, peligros naturales más frecuentes o severos y sistemas de agua alterados están devastando las comunidades vulnerables en las que el CCM trabaja agravando la inseguridad alimentaria y el desplazamiento de la población y aumentando el riesgo de desastres. El cambio climático desafía los esfuerzos del CCM por construir comunidades saludables, responder a desastres, proporcionar agua potable, crear medios de vida sostenibles y promover la paz.

Los artículos de este número de Intersections abarcan el mundo, representando voces de Myanmar, Etiopía, América Latina y América del Norte. Las personas escritoras abordan la cuestión de cómo responder al cambio climático en sus contextos mientras exploran estrategias innovadoras que benefician al medio ambiente y permiten que las comunidades vulnerables se adapten. Sandra Reisinger y Van Lizar comentan cómo un grupo asociado del CCM en Myanmar está abordando este desafío capacitando a las mujeres para que se desempeñen como directoras de desastres. Frew Beriso examina cómo las prácticas de la agricultura climáticamente inteligente mejoraron la seguridad alimentaria y contribuyeron a aumentar la resiliencia a la sequía en Etiopía rural. Por último, Darrin Yoder analiza cómo los grupos asociados del CCM en América Latina y el Caribe están compartiendo sus desafíos relacionados con el cambio climático entre sí, mientras exhortan al CCM a apoyar sus esfuerzos no sólo en el fortalecimiento de los medios de vida agrícolas resilientes al clima sino también en hacer uso de la voz e influencia del CCM para incidir en las políticas que afectan los recursos naturales de las comunidades y su capacidad de adaptarse al cambio climático.

¿Cuál es la responsabilidad de las agencias de alivio, desarrollo y construcción de paz en el Norte global tales como el CCM para movilizar a sus constituyentes en responder a las amenazas planteadas por el cambio climático a través de la incidencia en las políticas públicas y esfuerzos para mitigar el cambio climático reduciendo las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero? La incidencia de políticas públicas en torno al cambio climático rara vez es sencilla, como Tammy Alexander explica en su artículo sobre las complejidades de la incidencia relacionada con el Fondo Verde para el Clima. Mientras tanto, Jennifer Halteman Schrock argumenta que las personas cristianas en Canadá y Estados Unidos pueden desempeñar un papel clave en la reducción de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero que impulsan el cambio climático. Schrock explora los rasgos comunes de las congregaciones involucradas en el cuidado de la creación y ofrece sugerencias de lo que se necesita para movilizar a otras iglesias. Aunque son diversas y variadas, las voces en este número enfatizan que al cuidar el medio ambiente, estamos cuidando a la gente.

Meara Dietrick Kwee es coordinadora de aprendizaje y evaluación del CCM. Amy Martens es investigadora asociada en el departamento de Planificación, Aprendizaje y Respuesta a Desastres del CCM.

Aprende más

Kolbert, Elizabeth. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Parenti, Christian. Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. New York: Nation Books, 2012.

Responding to climate change (Summer 2017)

Featured

[Individual articles from the Summer 2017 issue of Intersections will be posted on this blog each week. The full issue can be found on MCC’s website.]

Over the past three decades, scientists have observed unprecedented warming of the earth’s surface as a result of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. The impacts of climate change, including changes in weather patterns, more frequent or severe natural hazards and altered water systems, are devastating vulnerable communities in which MCC works by exacerbating food insecurity and population displacement and increasing risk of disaster. Climate change is challenging MCC’s efforts to build healthy communities, respond to disasters, provide clean water, create sustainable livelihoods and promote peace.

The articles in this issue of Intersections span the globe, representing voices from Myanmar, Ethiopia, Latin America and North America. Contributors grapple with how to respond to climate change within their contexts while exploring innovative strategies that both benefit the environment and enable vulnerable communities to adapt. Sandra Reisinger and Van Lizar discuss how an MCC partner in Myanmar is addressing this challenge by empowering women to serve as disaster managers. Frew Beriso discusses how climate-smart agriculture practices improved food security and contributed to building resilience to drought in rural Ethiopia. Finally, Darrin Yoder examines how MCC partners in Latin America and the Caribbean are sharing their climate-change related challenges with one another while calling upon MCC to support their efforts not only in strengthening climate-resilient agricultural livelihoods, but also in using MCC’s voice and influence to advocate on policies that affect communities’ natural resources and ability to adapt to climate change.

What is the responsibility of relief, development and peacebuilding agencies in the global North like MCC to mobilize their supporters in responding to the threats posed by climate change through public policy advocacy and efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions? Public policy advocacy around climate change is rarely straightforward, as Tammy Alexander explains in her article about the complexities of advocacy related to the Green Climate Fund. Meanwhile, Jennifer Halteman Schrock argues that Christians in Canada and the United States can play a key role in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. Schrock explores the common traits of congregations engaged in creation care and offers suggestions for what is needed to mobilize other churches. While diverse and varied, the voices in this issue emphasize that by caring for the environment, we are caring for people.

Meara Dietrick Kwee is MCC learning and evaluation coordinator. Amy Martens is research associate in MCC’s Planning, Learning and Disaster Response department.

Learn more

Kolbert, Elizabeth. Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Parenti, Christian. Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. New York: Nation Books, 2012.