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"In Asia Pacific, there are 370 million persons with disabilities, 238 million of them of working age. Their unemployment rate is usually double that of the general population and often as high as 80% or more" - Debra A Perry ‘Disability issues in the employment and social protection, 2002 (sourced in the UN Enable Factsheet on Disability & Employment, 2011)
Read about CBM and Inclusive Development

Disability and climate change - understanding vulnerability and building resilience in a changing world

A large area of cultivated ground, with green crop plants, with dry desert in the background. One person can be seen working in the 'garden'.
In drought-affected Niger, CBM and its partner Karkara have set up 67 survival yards for persons with disabilities, their families and communities. 20 more are planned in different parts of the country by the end of 2012.

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"

In 1995 while working with CBM in Niger, West Africa, I visited a client of our Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programme. Hadiza was a 35 year old mother who had been totally blind, with opaque corneas, since she was three years old. The likely cause of her blindness was vitamin A deficiency coupled with measles.
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

Climate change is having the largest impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Within this group, 20% are people with disabilities, who are nearly always doubly disadvantaged.

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 will always remember Hadiza’s words to me: "Sir, why does God so hate me? He has taken my sight, my husband, my other three children and now I will have no millet to feed my precious son."
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)

CBM and partners tackling drought in West Africa

Food crisis in Niger - support to pastoralist communities

As a food crisis is about to affect the whole Sahel region, CBM aims to enable vulnerable families to pass the summer lean season


Niger survival yard project highlighted by UN-OCHA

Oumou, a young woman with a disability, helping to feed her community with the produce from a garden that she started with the help of CBM

Download 'Good practice - Survival yards' (PDF, ~ 531.1kB)

Oumou's Garden

As a food crisis looms in Niger, Oumou Moussa helps feed her community from a garden she started with the help of CBM


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