BOMA AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Extreme poverty is part of a global chain of consequences that includes climate change, disaster, conflict, decreased access to resources, and mass migration. In the arid lands of East Africa where BOMA works, a way of life practiced for centuries has come increasingly under pressure as climate change has driven families deeper into poverty. While the men travel for weeks at a time with the livestock herds, looking for scarce water and grazing terrain, the women and children are left alone in the villages without a stable source of food or income.
A DEEPENING CRISIS
Climate change is resulting in a “new normal” for people living in the remote arid regions of East Africa. Droughts have always been a part of life in these areas, but they were relieved by subsequent rainy seasons that replenished water holes and sustained the meager grazing lands that traditionally pastoralist peoples have relied on for their livelihoods for centuries. Those days are gone.
In February 2017, the Government of Kenya declared a national drought emergency, with experts saying that the long-term consequences could be worse than the drought of 2011. The arid and semi-arid regions where BOMA works are the hardest hit with 3.4 million people left severely food insecure, 500,000 people without access to water, and an estimated 482,882 children suffering from acute malnutrition. A recent study commissioned by USAID demonstrates that investing in a more proactive response to avert humanitarian crises could reduce the cost to international donors by 30%, whilst also protecting billions of dollars of income and assets for those most affected.
Climate change is an emergency in slow motion.
By the time we feel the full effects, it will be too late. The historic response to drought crises by governments and humanitarian organizations has been to jump in with food aid and stop-gap measures to address the immediate need, save lives, and help people survive. But the droughts are increasing in frequency and severity, and we need long-term solutions that empower local residents to build their own resilience.
Climate and gender.
Extreme poverty, gender, and climate change are inextricably and tragically linked, but there is a solution—which the global community can no longer afford to ignore. Building resilience among vulnerable populations, particularly women, who disproportionately bear the consequences of extreme poverty, can be accomplished by helping them establish diversified sources of income, learn new skills, and build up savings so they can withstand climate change-induced shocks. And, according to Drawdown, the book from environmentalist, journalist, and activist Paul Hawken, empowering women can actually help mitigate or even reverse the effects of climate change: numbers 6 and 7 on his list of 100 solutions for reversing global warming are Educating Girls and Family Planning. Gender-focused programs can help break the cycle of dependency that comes from relying on aid and help the planet as a whole.