What climate change means for poor people: 4 stories

Nana and her family in Garin Mahaman region, Niger

For women like Nana, Sumati, Carmen and Josiane, climate change is happening now: they have no choice but to adapt to a changing world. But unless governments commit to more climate change funding and support for poor people, millions more will be dragged further into poverty.

Growing food in a changing climate

Nana outside her home in Niger
Nana who lives in Garin Mahaman region in Niger

“My name is Nana Moumouni. I’m married and I have five kids. Farming is our main activity and source of income.

“Ten years ago, production was good. But for the last five years, we’ve come across difficulties due to the lack of rain, and our land has become less productive.

We used to have a large variety of plants and animals. Now, rains are scarce and it gets very hot. The vegetation is disappearing.

“Men have left. Women are the heads of their families now. We have to meet the needs of all our children.

When we don’t have enough to eat, we eat leaves.

“Then we decided to fight the climate change. But first we have to understand what has changed. CARE helped different groups come together to learn about the impacts of climate change, and what we can do.

“Now we have a rain gauge that helps us measure rainwater. It helps us to know when is the best time to plant, because if there isn’t enough rain, there is a risk of losing those seeds. We also use another type of seed, which grows much quicker and produces more beans. I’m producing about 300kg of beans and am able to sell some of my crop. I bought a goat and cooking utensils with the money I earned. Next I would like to buy a cart, it would make my work easier.”

Giving women a voice

Sumati with a group of women
Sumati who lives in Chattisgarh State in India

“My name is Sumati. I’m 21. I’m part of the Adivasi, a small native community in India. Our resources and food sources mainly depend on farming.

“But for the last 20 years, we have had less and less rain and water. The monsoon season is also changing.

Now few of us can survive by simply farming our land for food and have had to move away to look for work elsewhere.

“Then CARE hired me as a community organiser for a climate change adaptation project. I am in charge of mobilising and educating women and girls from my village on water resources.

“I’m also a second-year university student. It’s extremely rare for a woman from my community.

We don’t have many opportunities, only many responsibilities. Most women have to wake up every day at 4am to take care of their children and household chores.

“We also discuss ways to adapt our livelihoods. I give them information on local governance issues and our rights. We want Adivasi women to have better access to different resources and services. This project helps strengthen the ability and confidence of Adivasi women.”

Growing crops with less water

Carmen in her fields in Peru
Carmen who lives in Shullcas region, Peru

“My name is Carmen. I’m 23. I live in the region of Shullcas. I’m the eldest of six children. Ever since I was a little girl, I took on most of the chores in my family.

“When I became an adult, I was worried about our economic situation: we were getting less and less from our land because of climate change, particularly because of the more frequent frost periods and rising temperatures.

I was also worried by the future of our water resources, because the Huaytapallana glacier was disappearing.

“I joined one of CARE’s projects on adapting farming practices to climate change. My family and I replaced corn and wheat crops with forgotten varieties of cereals and native potatoes. These crops are more resistant to climatic hazards, they need two to three times less water, and they’re more nutritious. They are also sold at a higher price on markets.

“Quinoa, for instance, is easy. We don’t use any chemical fertilisers or insecticides. It’s better for our health. Thanks to half a hectare of quinoa farming, I was able to triple our income and improve my family’s living conditions. Also, I’ve been able to buy 100 guinea pigs for breeding, which are a traditional food in Peru.

Today, I’m fighting the idea, shared by many poor rural households, that rural areas have no future. Local solutions are possible, and we can help small family farms to survive. But we also need global action to limit the damages of this climate crisis.

Pushing back against the winds of change

Josiane in front of a tree used as a windbreak
Josiane who lives in Belfort village in Mahevadoany, Antahala district, Madagascar

“My name is Josiane. Antalaha, our district, is one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to hurricanes. We are often the first to be hit by strong cyclone winds blowing from the Indian Ocean.

For six years the sea has been getting closer to our village, which is also more vulnerable to winds.

“Our houses are made of wood, bamboo and leaves, so they can’t withstand cyclones. We are losing our belongings and it is difficult for us to rebuild our homes.

“With support from CARE, we have planted more than 2,000 local and fast-growing trees (Casuarina equisetifolia) that act as windbreaks.

I was really impressed by this action, even though some people were not sure if the planting would help.

“In three years, the sea has receded by several dozen metres thanks to our natural barrier. Now, the whole community is convinced that it is essential. Every weekend families gather in the morning to care for the trees.

“We are proud to share our achievement, and now many visitors are coming here to ask us how we managed in such a short time to protect our village. Little by little, villagers have been filling the dunes with tree seedlings. Trees have grown; it has become a place where experiences can be shared. We also set up a tree nursery. The sale of tree seedlings allows us to improve our everyday life.”

CARE is calling for ambitious, urgent action at the climate change talks in Paris. Here are our key demands:

CARE demands at COP21

Find out more: download our brief 2-page explanation of why and what governments must do now:

CARE briefing on COP21

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.