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Seven Stories from the Climate Crisis

by Katie Giles 01/08/2023

From scorching heatwaves to raging wildfires, the summer of 2023 might be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Scientists have shared that the recent heatwaves would have been almost impossible without climate change. Recent climate records have also led climate change experts to say that the world is in ‘uncharted territory’ 

While the study of weather patterns is complex, the impact of climate change on the world’s weather has been seen for some years now. It increases the risk of drought, heatwaves, flooding and intense storms. Often, it’s the most vulnerable communities that bear the brunt of climate change’s negative effects. In this blog, hear from some of the people we have supported who have been affected by the climate crisis.  

1. “This was the worst drought I have ever seen”  

Woman holding a child outside of a temporary shelter in Somaliland
Muna and two of her children in Somaliland

 

The Horn of Africa has been gripped by drought for many years. This is due to consecutive failed rainy seasons.  

ShelterBox has previously worked in Somaliland to help people displaced due to drought. This included Muna and her family. Muna had earned a living raising livestock, but because of the drought she was unable to get the livestock enough food.  

“The animals didn’t have any food, we couldn’t get them any, and they started dying,” she said. “Our children and our lives depend on the livestock, when the livestock died we were so scared and worried.” 

Up to 80% of the livestock in Somaliland died due to the drought. Of this Muna said “This was the worst drought I have ever seen. I have never seen so many consecutive years without rain.” 

We were able to help Muna and other households in Somaliland with shelter kits and household materials. This has helped them regain their livelihoods.

2. “It hasn’t rained for a long time”

Woman and 5 children stood in from of a shelter in Ethiopia
Habon and her family in Ethiopia

 

Drought conditions continue in Ethiopia, also in the Horn of Africa. This has led to widespread hardship and soaring food costs. The crisis in the country is complex, with outbreaks of violence also impacting some regions. Over 5.5 million people have been displaced within the country.  

We have been working with our partners IOM to supply aid to some of those forced to flee their homes in Ethiopia. This includes Habon and her family. She has noticed the changing climate in the country, “It hasn’t rained for a long time and even when it does rain, it’s only a small amount.” 

This is the second time I have been displaced. We had to leave everything behind and move at midnight. We only took our children with us. Our lives used to depend on livestock, farming, and trading our livestock and farm outputs. It was good at that time, but now we have nothing and it is difficult to live here.” 

We were able to support Habon with shelter materials and household items, and she has hopes for a better future. “We hope to lead a normal and peaceful life and receive more support from you. We need basic necessities such as a permanent home, health facilities, and schools.” 

3.  Now it is raining more than before and it is hotter than before during the summer”

Woman in a colourful headscarf and wearing a face mask next to a shelter in India
Sagarika and her family lost their home to Cyclone Amphan in May 2020

 

Climate change is also making storms more severe, meaning that their impact on people can be even more disastrous. Sagarika and her family live in West Bengal, India. They were severely impacted by Cyclone Amphan in May 2020.  

Sagarika had experienced the changing climate before Cyclone Amphan hit. “Now it is raining more than before and it is hotter than before during the summer,” she said. Sagarika reflected on how the weather patterns have changed dramatically in the last two decades, “like what is supposed to occur in the month of Bhadra (August-September), is now happening in the month of Ashwin (September-October) and things from Ashwin are happening in the month of Shraban (July-August). Things are interchanging and occurring untimely nowadays.” 

Although she had previously experienced two severe storms, Cyclone Amphan had the worse impact on Sagarika. Despite preparing for the storm her house collapsed, and many of her possessions were damaged. ShelterBox and our partners Habitat for Humanity India were able to help Sagarika with tarpaulins, rope, and household items. There were also items to help protect the family against the threat of coronavirus, which was very prevalent at the time. In the future, Sagarika hopes to have a home that can withstand even the harshest weather.  

I only hope for a better and proper house. I do not need anything else. If the house is in a proper condition I can safely stay here. That is all I wish for. If I have a proper house, I will be able to safely stay together with my children. I wouldn’t have to evacuate in the middle of the night or whenever there is some natural calamity.” 

4. “There has been a huge change in the weather” 

Man sitting on the floor with two children inside a shelter in Pakistan
Mohammed and his family were impacted by flooding in Pakistan

 

Changing weather patterns due to climate change are increasing the severity of weather events such as floods. In 2022 monsoon rains flooded large areas of Pakistan 

Mohammed and his family were one of many households who lost their homes and livelihoods in the flooding. The increase is severe weather has been noticed by Mohammed. “There were floods in 2010 but it did not affect as much as these floods, a vast number of livelihoods were lost, livestock and even human lives. 

There has been a huge change in the weather, sometimes it is extremely hot and on the other hand heavy rain which results in flooding.” 

Mohammed was able to use cash assistance from ShelterBox and Islamic Relief to meet home needs and restart his small shop. He worries about the future of his family and protecting them from the extreme heat of the coming summer.  

Home is where family lives and if there is no family, there is no home” 

5. It’s not the cyclone season but a cyclone will come 

Family standing outside their home in Vanuatu
Patrick and his family outside their home in Vanuatu, one of the few in their village to survive Tropical Cyclone Harold

 

More unpredictable weather patterns are one of the impacts of climate change. This has been noticed by Patrick, who lives on Vanuatu. In 2020 Tropical Cyclone Harold destroyed his livelihood, as well as the homes of many in his village.  

Patrick worries that climate change has made cyclones harder to anticipate. “You would think that the cyclones would just come in the cyclone season, but now when we talk about climate change, the cyclones are coming at a times when you don’t think they will come. It’s not the cyclone season but a cyclone will come.” 

Being aware of the impact of climate change on cyclones, Patrick had built a strong traditional home to withstand these severe storms. It served as a shelter for 63 people when Tropical Cyclone Harold hit. While his home may have survived the storm, Patrick’s crop of Kava had been ruined. This was the main source of income for Patrick and many in his village. As Kava can only start to be harvested five years after planting, the loss of this crop will have a significant impact on Patrick and his family. Shelter kits and tools provided by ShelterBox helped people in Patrick’s village repair their homes and start to rework their gardens.  

6. The heat is more unbearable every day 

Woman and children sitting under a tree in Cameroon
Esther and her family have experienced extreme heat at Minawao Camp in Cameroon

 

For those displaced due to conflict, climate change can still have a dramatic impact on their lives. Esther and her family fled Boko Haram violence in Nigeria, arriving at Minawao Camp in Cameroon.  

Although safe from violence, food scarcity and the changing climate in the area have had an impact on Esther and her children. She worries about the future. 

Since my childhood in Nigeria we have experienced two types of climates depending on the time of year; I have to admit that now it’s difficult to distinguish the seasons. The heat is more unbearable every day, both during the day and at night. The sun rises at 6 o’clock, it feels like it’s noon. It’s quite destabilizing because even here at the camp we dig holes all over the sand to get some water. Not to mention the fields that no longer produce the same crops because of the drought.” 

Unfortunately, conditions in the camp show no signs of improving. “Living conditions are getting more difficult every day. We drink a lot of water yet there is not even enough; there are days when none of us shower, because it is more important to drink than taking a bath. And clothes are very rarely washed. Children are sick because of the heat… I hope that the situation can change one day, because I do not know what kind of world my children and grandchildren will live in when I am no longer there.” 

7. “Hope is something that can always be maintained, even in the most difficult of circumstances

Man smiling, sitting outstide a tent in Somalia surrounded by children
The drought in Somalia has had a massive impact on Mohamed and his family

 

The climate crisis is a humanitarian crisis. People are losing their homes, livelihoods and sometimes their lives as a result of climate change.  

Yet even those experiencing the worse of climate change have hope that things can get better. Somalia is affected by the severe drought that is taking place in East Africa. One of people we have supported there is Mohamed. Despite losing his home due to the drought, he holds on to hope. 

 I am burdened by the heavy weight of memories from the past, dreams that haven’t come true, and a strong longing to return to the life I had before this one. On the other hand, whenever I am with my loved ones, I feel a spark of light inside me. It serves as a reminder to me that hope is something that can always be maintained, even in the most difficult of circumstances. 

 

Help us bring hope to people like Mohamed, who have lost everything in the climate crisis.

Donate now

 

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