Jamie Williams, senior policy advisor for Islamic Relief, welcomes a new report outlining how we’re working with people in Africa and Asia to deal with the consequences of the climate crisis.
Released this week, ‘Adapting for Climate Justice’ outlines our efforts to help people adapt to the changes caused by global heating and to prepare for a future of increased extreme weather events and slower shifts towards hotter and drier conditions.
As ever we look for the most exposed and disregarded people to work with. For many of them, even at the best of times, life is hard. To meet their most basic of needs – food, shelter, clean water – is a struggle, and there are barriers to services such as education and healthcare.
Our work concentrates on these inequalities. After talking with people, we often combine livelihoods, food security, water, sanitation and heath as the ambition for our plans. How this is to be achieved is much in the hands of the people concerned. They know their situation best, they understand their surroundings and they have experience of getting by in the most challenging conditions.
Our workers and volunteers are all local. They share cultural and social traditions with the people they work with, and understand how the systems and structures can hold people back and be used to best advantage. Working together, this knowledge is shared to create the circumstances for real and lasting change to take place.
As an international charity, Islamic Relief can also direct resources where they are most effective. At the simplest level, giving cash can provide people in desperate need with the space and time to establish their situation and means of livelihood. Vital infrastructure like water pipes, secure shelter, passable roads, food storage and hygienic sanitation can be subsidised.
Equipped with the basics, people come together to establish group savings schemes and share learning and capacities. Collectively people can approach local government to improve their access to, and the quality of, services.
So what has this to do with adapting for climate justice? How do we ‘help people adapt to the changes caused by global heating’ and to prepare for a future of increased climate breakdown?
People living in the most affected places do not need to be told the climate is changing. Drought, flooding, extreme heat and cold, and unreliable rainfall are becoming all too common. Seas are encroaching on the land, soils are eroding, water sources are drying, and disease and pestilence are increasing. Where crops fail, livestock perishes and the natural environment is degraded. Any successful enterprise becomes an adaptation to these changes.
Together Islamic Relief and the people, families and communities work to find crops which will thrive in the changing conditions, different methods of feeding and watering animals and ways of conserving and replenishing nature so it can give lasting support. People plan so they know when the next storm is coming and what do when it strikes.
Reducing poverty and making sure that it lasts means locally-led, community based adaptation. It means adapting for climate justice. Learn more in ‘Adapting for Climate Justice’.