Disability and climate change - understanding vulnerability and building resilience in a changing world
- © CBM
Climate change has the greatest impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, a significant proportion of whom are people with disabilities.
Here David Lewis, CBM Australia's Strategic Programmes Director, tells the short story of Hadiza, whom he met in Niger in 1995. This serves as the perfect introduction to the downloadable document 'Disability and Climate Change'.
"...now I will have no millet to feed my precious son"
Hadiza lived in a dilapidated hut. Only one of the four children she had given birth to was still living, a boy of about 10 years old. Hadiza’s husband had gone to the coast looking for work three years before; she had not heard from him since.
Surrounding Hadiza’s hut was the millet crop our programme had encouraged her to plant. It had grown well at first, but the finishing rains had failed and now it was dying back into the ground.
Climate change significant to CBM's work
The topic of ‘Disability and Climate Change’ is of large significance to CBM’s work. It is about food, water and shelter security for people with disabilities and their families. It is about their right to access health, education and livelihood opportunities in changing environments. It is about hope and innovation. It is about ensuring people with disabilities are front and centre in seeking to create awareness, understanding and solutions.
I have often pondered how I could have explained to Hadiza that there is another world she does not know. A rich world, where up to six tonnes of fossil fuel (oil equivalent) are consumed for every man, woman and child, while in countries like Niger just 0.3 tonnes are consumed per capita (World Bank 2007).
Scientific evidence suggests that the burning of these fuels in the rich world, with associated carbon emissions, is a likely key reason the growing season in Hadiza’s village is getting shorter.
Our CBR programme continued to work with Hadiza to provide her with wider livelihood opportunities and access to education for her son. Hadiza’s story and that of many others like her has pushed me to look at the wider issues around disability and climate change.
David Lewis (Strategic Programmes Director, CBM Australia)