For two years, the Development Policy Association of Lower Saxony (VEN) together with the Centro de Promoción de técnicas en arte y cultura (cenProtac) from La Paz in Bolivia and the Institute Africain pour le développement Economique et Social (INADES formation) from Dodoma in Tanzania led the project “Empowering women. Change the climate!” There was an exhibition within the framework of the project in which twelve women show how climate change effects them and how they react to it.
Climate Changers – an Exhibition
Empowering women! Change the climate!
70 % of people living below the poverty line are female. Therefore, climate change hits women in particular. Moreover, the effects are visible directly in the areas of life where women often bear responsibility: They care about feeding their families, they are responsible for health protection, for water and energy supply. If extreme weather conditions destroy crops and water sources dry up because of drought, the nutritional situation for the whole family deteriorates. The workload increases, but especially for women and girls. This is detrimental to their health and their time available for education or participation in political processes.
Climate change now takes 300,000 lives annually. According to conservative estimates of the “Global Humanitarian Forum” 1 the number could increase to half a billion. Therefore it is clear: We must reduce global greenhouse emissions quickly and massively and simultaneously support the adjustment of people already in the affected regions.
Women worldwide are committed to adapting to climate change and climate protection. They plant appropriate seeds and experiment with compost. They cam- paign against nuclear power and are committed to forest conservation. They show us how we can live differently, in a climate-friendly way. In national or international decision-making, women are seldom present. But we need the commitment and ideas of all people, men as well as women, in order to respond to climate change and achieve global justice.
Six Women from Three Countries
Bolivia, with over 1 million km2, is the fifth largest country in South America and one of the poorest. It is estimated that 63 % of the population live in poverty, with the indigenous rural population and women disproportionately affected.
Climate change is already having a strong effect. The weather extremes el niño and la niña occur more frequently and stronger with extreme storms and rainfall. In addition to that, the change in the rainfall pattern and the melting of glaciers have important consequences for agriculture and energy production. In many regions, for example in the Chuquisaca valleys, it is getting warmer and consequently becoming drier. Some plants and animals can currently only be found at higher and cooler levels. A strong reduction of the native vegetation and medically useful plants has been observed. The total crop land cover is decreasing, however wind and water erosion are increasing.
Evarista Nicasio Troncoso
President of the local irrigation association and shepherdess
Fuente: Gerd Kösters
... lives and works for the common good of the village Sorachico Incensio Calvario in the Oruro region. For two years she was the village head and, among other things, supports the agricultural workers union La Unificada. She now has seven adult children and has lived separated from her partner for 19 years. She has 18 sheep.
... perceives climate change as real because of the extreme differences between hot days and cold nights. This contrast determines the daily routine in a new way and leaves, for example, less time to let the animals graze. While it is too cold for the young animals in the morning, it’s too hot for them at midday.
... is active against climate change by educating community members about the background of climate change and therefore works against the resignation of the village community. Evarista continued her education through information sessions and courses and thus learned about the causes of climate change. This was important so that she could understand that Pachamama, the Mother Earth revered by villagers, had not sent climate change in response to the misconduct of the village community. Evarista also began to inform others about the causes of climate change and proposed concrete countermeasures. So she made sure that, if possible, no pollution took place. The dung of animals was used for cooking, and long distances were covered either by bicycle or on foot.
... calls for a sustainable economic policy which is in harmony with nature, with Mother Earth and makes people aware of the negative consequences of the E exploitation of resources.
... and wishes that the indigenous peoples will be strengthened through the means A of political action, without their knowledge and their values being lost.
“We respect Pachamama, because from her we get our products, and we sleep on her. That’s why we always sacrifice to her. If we do not, then the animals die and the fox falls on the sheep. We speak with Mother Earth like we speak with peo- ple, we always ask her to protect us.”
Vicenta Chirilla Chinche
Livestock economist and teacher
Fuente: Gerd Kösters
... lives in the Palkiri village community, which belongs to the municipality of El Choro. The education of her three adult children is important to her. Her husband helps with the care of 250 sheep, 20 cows and 10 pigs. The products from the animals, especially meat, cheese, wool and leather, are intended for sale. In addition, Vicenta plants vegetables for their own use, such as cabbage and beetroot. Potatoes and quinoa complete the range of vegetables.
... takes climate change seriously, as a time of uncertainty and unpredictability. Agricultural knowledge which had been passed on can no longer be used because the weather has become unpredictable. In particular, the frost and rainy seasons have shifted and led to crop failure. On the other hand, water sources dry up be- cause of periods of heat. Strong winds sweep away the loose soil and dry it out. As a result, Vicenta and her animals have to go further and further to find suitable pasture land. Great damage was caused by a new species of louse that attacks the roots of alfalfa and thus kills forage plants.
... is active against climate change by trying to adapt to the new climatic con- ditions. In order to increase the possibility that at least one harvest produces the expected and required yield, she now sows three times a year. She fights the new pests earnestly with tobacco and the water from boiled onions.
... wishes that, in the face of the threat- ening situation, women and men would develop common counter-strategies in an effective and supportive manner.
... and demands a return to the or- ganic products of the indigenous popu- lation. This concerns, for example, the use of fertiliser and the manufacture of clothing and sleeping mats, which were previously made from the wool of sheep and alpacas and is now synthetic.
“I do not know why is it that in some places it is very cold and not in others. I do not understand. The weather is pretty bad. Sometimes there’s at least a small H yield and sometimes nothing grows. Nothing is like before, when everything S happened at its appropriate time.”
Germany has about 82 million people on the relatively small area of 360,000 km2. Nearly 90 % of Germany’s population lives in cities. About 11 % of Germans live below the poverty line. The impact of climate change is not as strong, but it is especially noticeable in O agriculture. The seasons are shifting. In summer there are increasing heat waves and less rain to fight drought. On the average, the winters are warmer, however more precipitation is being measured. Added to that there are also more frequent and unpredictable weather extremes, for example, late frost and hot spells that can destroy entire harvests in one fell swoop. In addition, stronger storms and flood-water surges are to be expected. Threats come from erosion and salination of drinking water as well as land degradation.
Claudia Burckhardt, Ph.D.
Secondary school teacher and anti-nuclear activist
Fuente: Gerd Kösters
... lives in Uelzen, a small town in Lower Saxony. The 66 year-old has four adult children and, so far, one grandchild. For a long time – along with many other people – she has been a committed opponent of nuclear power and for initiatives that call for a thoughtful, sustainable use of resources.
... believes climate change is a global injustice to be blamed on industrialised countries, and that it has long since become an existential threat for the people in the global South. This makes her angry and motivates her to fight for change.
... is active against climate change in that she informs herself about the extent of the threat and its consequences and possible action that can be taken, then acts accordingly. Claudia tries to leave an “ecological footprint” which is as small as possible: She uses a bicycle and trains instead of a car, eats organic food, is a vegetarian, conserves electricity, water and heat; the money that is left over is either donated or ethically and ecologi- cally invested. As well as that, she also works hard every day to make the concerns of climate change public, to help appropriate activities take place and to convince others to get involved: in energy conservation, energy efficiency, renewable ener- gies and personal nuclear phase-out by changing to a green electricity provider. In order to also do something quite practical, she works in the Heim-statt Tschernobyl e.V. organisation. 2 In the summer of 2008 she helped build low energy houses in the north of Belarus with and for young immigrant families from the Chernobyl zone.
... demands from political leaders the immediate transition from deadly, envi- ronmentally harmful fossil fuels and nuclear energy to endlessly available climate- friendly renewable energy. Further irreversible damage by hazardous technologies like nuclear power and genetic engineering must be prevented.
... and wishes that she – along with many others – can help to preserve this wonderful planet for future generations.
“I brought four children into the world. Whatever little I can do to not leave absolute chaos or a catastrophe behind for them – that’s the least that I can do. I’ll try anything for that.”
Doctor and energy consultant
Fuente: Gerd Kösters
... lives with her husband in Hanover. Nadiya fled from the Ukraine for political reasons in 1998. She has two grown children and is a committed volunteer for the Immigrants for Agenda 21 association.
... takes climate change seriously, because she believes it is responsible for the formidable weather changes in the last ten years: the ever-more-rainy winters, where snow, frost and winter sunshine are pushed out by darkness and atypical wet weather. This makes colds prevalent and weakens the immune system. The in- creasingly faster changes in climate are forcing people around the world to adjust their living habits. So, for example, other types of winter clothing are necessary because traditional clothes are not suitable to the new wet conditions.
... is active against climate change by sensibilising – mainly immigrants – to the interests of environmental protection. Her motto is “convincing through informa- tion”. In her consultations Nadiya shows how households can conserve energy, for example, through right ventilation, heating or using washing resources properly. It is important for her to know traditional habits and then to supplement them with the latest findings and experiences in environmental protection.
... calls for education about the environment for all new immigrants and institutional support for all previously volunteer consultants. It is important to her that this work is intertwined with the efforts of the government and thus also recognised.
... and hopes that the experience and knowledge in relation to environmental and climate protection in Germany and in other countries, particularly in the East European countries, will be transmitted. Nadiya Dorokhova sees this as the opportunity to come closer together.
“That’s why my work is a bridge between the necessary, correct knowledge, professional recommendations and, on the other hand, the life styles, life experiences and habits of migrants.”
Tanzania is almost three times as large as Germany, but has only half as many people. Despite abundant natural resources, approximately 48 % of the population live below the poverty line, including in particular the rural population, children, old people and women.
In Tanzania, according to present estimates, the climate will get up to 4° C warmer in the next 90 years. The consequences are already clear to see. The millennia-old glaciers on Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, are melt- ing and will be gone in less than twenty years. The annual rainfall is decreasing. Both have a huge impact on the water and energy supply in the country. Floods and droughts have increased since the mid-1990s, with disastrous consequences for agriculture and food security. It is estimated that, for example, the yield of the staple food, maize, will be reduced by 33 % by 2080. In very dry regions, like Dodoma, a decline in maize yield by 80 % is expected. In addition, due to the increasing temperature, the risk of malarial infection increases dramatically.
Cattle breeder and gardener
Source: Gerd Kösters
... lives with her husband and three children in Ikowa in the Dodoma region. Besides maize and sorghum production for their own consumption, the family also planted peanuts and sunflowers for sale. Cattle and chicken rearing as well as a small garden should make additional revenue possible. In addition, she rents an ox plough to the other farmers from the village. Pendo’s daily routine is determined by work in the fields and at home. This includes fetching water and gathering firewood, for which she covers up to 15 kilometres daily.
... takes climate change seriously because the prolonged periods of drought force her to go ever-increasing distances to fetch water. Since sometimes even that is not successful, she is often forced to buy water. So the family decided to take their animals to another village which is not so affected by the drought. Due to weather changes and rainfall which is no longer adequate, crop yields have decreased catastrophically. This results in an alarming food shortage for the whole village. Revenue from the rental of the oxen plough remains largely wanting because the other families cannot afford it anymore.
... is active against climate change in order to survive. She engages in both sustainable and forward-looking land cultivation. Among other things, she uses drought-resistant seeds and then keeps some seeds for the next year. During harvest time, she collects grass in order to feed her animals during the dry months.
... calls on the government to support small farmers, but especially the women, and help them to adapt to the changes. Specifically, the village needs tractors so that a larger area can be farmed.
... and wishes for financial and material support, including from the responsible industrial countries, so that they (she and her village) can counteract the effects of climate change.
“I would like to start planting trees next season in the places where they grow best in wet weather. I also want to motivate other women to get active and plant trees and create an awareness among our villagers for that.”
Farmer and beer brewer
Fuente: Gerd Kösters
... lives with the other members of her seven-member family in Makoja in the Do- doma region. Her main source of income is agriculture. Gladis is also responsible for the household work, for taking care of the children, for the fetching of water and collection of firewood and for the care of the animals.
... takes climate change seriously as a time of famine and an increased workload, since agriculture can no longer adequately feed her family. Over and over again, drought and its associated diseases in humans and animals destroys an existence that has been so painstakingly built up.
... is active against climate change on the one hand by trying to adapt to the new climatic conditions. On the other hand, she has opened up new sources of income for the family. Apart from odd jobs, she sews school bags for school children in the community and brews the local beer. The critical financial situation of the villagers makes it difficult to sell however, and the missing grain harvests increasingly destroy this source of income as well, because it is more often no longer possible for her to brew beer.
... calls for concrete steps by the government. First and foremost is the construction of irrigation facilities which are rainfall independent and guarantee better harvests.In addition, the government officials must support all the people affected to adapt, but support them in acute situations as well.
... and she wishes that the world would help poor countries and especially the people who cultivate the land to implement measures for adapting to climate change in order to mitigate its impact. In addition, the people in the villages need to be informed more about the causes and consequences of climate change, but also about the need to protect trees and to plant them.
“I lost everything I invested in agriculture. Now I have to see how I am going to somehow make ends meet this year, feed my children and pay for education.”
Climate justice demands!
Protection against climate change now!
We have no time to waste anymore. Right now people around the world are suf- fering from the consequences of climate change. Therefore we must, immediately, without hesitation, begin protecting against climate
Those responsible for climate change have to pay for the damage and ensure that quick and comprehen- sive global measures for protection against climate change are implemented. Therefore there can be no buying oneself out of greenhouse gas reduction. Emission trading should not lead to “business as usual” by rich countries and large companies.
Support for those affected!
The affected countries and people have to be immediately and fully supported in adapting to climate change and securing their survival. All the measures must be developed with those affected.
The causes and consequences of climate change, but also the activities to mitigate and adapt to climate change must be differentially analysed and coordinated. The aim must be effective measures and global justice – between genders as well.
The resource-wasteful life and economic model in the industrialised countries is the main cause of climate change. Therefore, as a priority, we need new social and economic structures and values that respect nature and secure the survival of all people, animals and ecosystems.
All nation-states are called upon to deal responsibly with public funds. Thereby the advancement of social and environmental sustainability must be the basis for any decision, both nationally and internationally. The population must be informed about the causes and consequences of climate change and motivated to protect the climate through targeted support measures.
Change course energetically!
We can all decide for ourselves to use renewable energy sources, energy saving measures and for the protection of natural resources. But demands are made of governments as well: We need clear decisions on renewable energy and incentives that go along with the rapid phase-out of coal and nuclear power.
Produce and consume with a conscience!
Each and every individual can, through his or her mode of consumption, contribute to the battle against climate change, for example through the purchase of regional and seasonal foods produced without harming nature. But environmentally and socially sustainable smallholder farming must also be supported politically.
1 The “Global Humanitarian Forum” was a non-profit foundation in Geneva, Switzerland, active from 2007 to 2010. Presided over by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, its secretariat was led by CEO and Director General Walter Fust. The Forum intended to serve as an independent platform for debate and collaboration on global humanitarian issues. Its activities included research projects, advocacy and projects to deal with humanitarian concerns.