Record droughts, severe storms and changes in rainfall patterns are becoming common in many countries around the world as the effects of climate change accelerate year by year.
Yet it’s the very countries producing the least carbon and greenhouse emissions that are well-known to be suffering the worst effects from extreme weather events. In 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report cited that as many as 3.6 billion people live in a context that is highly vulnerable to climate change. Under these conditions, there is considerable concern around the pressure the climate crisis will put on farming and access to food, further threatening food security, livelihoods and health for millions already living on the margins.
Pope Francis’s urgent messaging around climate change and its impact on the poor is at the centre of his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, urging ‘Care for our Common Home’. Our members are responding to the Pope’s entreaty to hear “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” through innovative project adaptations aimed at helping communities prepare for the environmental and economic damage from severe weather events.
Misean Cara members are helping local communities become resilient to the effects of climate change by adopting climate resilient farming methods and efficient use of fuel for cooking. The security of household incomes is also strengthened through creating jobs that are less affected by the impact of climate change.
We launched the annual Misean Cara Climate Action Awards in 2020 to raise awareness of how missionary organisations and the communities they live amongst are taking action to address the climate crisis. These awards recognise the ingenuity and commitment of people and projects actively working to reduce the impact of climate change and increase the resilience of communities most at risk.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Gaja in 2018, which devastated the livelihoods of many small-scale farmers in Tamil Nadu, the Salesian Sisters set up initiatives to help restore their farming practices but with the aim to increase use of organic, climate-resilient methods and crops. Mr. Balasubramanian Vandiyar (second from right), took the lead in his community, reaching out to local farmers to promote organic farming, better water harvesting and irrigation techniques on demonstration land that he provided himself. He has helped over 200 farmers to increase their food production; they now know how to test for soil health, how to cultivate bees to enhance local biodiversity and how to use organic fertilisers to improve crop quality.
Irish Jesuits International and the Multi-educational and Agricultural Jesuit Institute of South Sudan (MAJIS)
The negative effects of climate change are presenting an urgent and persistent threat to the farmers they work with in Lakes State, as weather patterns in the area become increasingly unpredictable. In the past three years, food security has worsened as harvest yields have dropped by over 25%. The MAJIS, in partnership with the Jesuits of East Africa and Irish Jesuits International, focuses its efforts on the empowerment of women farmers by training them in sustainable farming and agricultural practice.
Since MAJIS first received funding from Misean Cara in 2011, it has helped address food insecurity in 288 villages in Lakes State. MAJIS Field Officers train women in climate-smart farming techniques from planting to harvest to climate-smart farming techniques. In 2022, the farmers harvested high yields of kale, okra and kudra; enough to feed their families and with surplus that could be sold. 125 farmers in four villages were trained on free range poultry production while another 172 farmers were trained on crop cultivation and spacing, pest and disease control, and harvesting techniques.
Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary, Ifendu for Women’s Development project
Over 600 women are members of the Ifendu for Women’s Development project. The Ifendu Climate Action Group tackles deforestation, air pollution (from kitchen firewood smoke) and improper waste disposal. The group is raising awareness within their community of the need for climate action and holds local authorities and community leaders accountable, urging them to enact laws to protect biodiversity and the environment. Climate Action and Laudato Si’ messaging is delivered at community education meetings, through social media, and outreach events engaging every segment of their community, including schools and partner organisations.
For further information about our work or to comment on this report, please contact:
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