In our communication with our project partners, we often hear about the many problems caused by extreme weather events such as drought or heavy rain. These events occur increasingly frequent due to climate change. In this article, we will illustrate how the rising temperature is already impacting South Africa, Mexico and India.

“It’s heartbreaking,” writes Dave Martin. “Watching our own crops die after so much hard work is a tremendous disappointment to us”. The extreme drought has hit the project manager of the Bulungula Incubator on the Wild Coast in South Africa hard. In the middle of the usually water-rich rainy season, rivers are empty, fields are drying up and the optimism of the farmers is waning. Since 2015, South Africa has been suffering from persistent droughts. These droughts sometimes affect only some regions and sometimes the whole country. In 2018, this almost led to “Day Zero”, the shut down of the municipal water supply, in Cape Town. To prevent this, each Person was only allowed to consume 50 litres of water per day. For comparison: in Germany more than 120 litres of water per person are consumed daily.

“It is difficult for us to say whether the drought is a temporary anomaly, or whether the effects of climate change are occurring more quickly than the scientists predicted,” says Martin. “In any case, this is the worst drought in generations”.

The Bulungula Incubator, supported by the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation since 2017, provides the local population with the access, knowledge and tools to run their own agriculture. This strengthens local production and thus food security in the Xhora River region. The community is accordingly less dependent on Food imports. But more frequent and extreme weather events have a strong impact on agriculture – due to the drought, the farmers’ gardens are no longer showing any signs of their hard work.

A Global Challenge

A shepherd and his animals perished by the drought in Chittapur, India
A shepherd and his animals perished by the drought in Chittapur, India © Jyoti Fair Works

People are already feeling the effects of climate change, not only in South Africa. In the South Mexican state of Chiapas, the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation supports five local beekeeping cooperatives of the project El Buen Socio. The resilience of the beekeepers is challenged by climate change, because bee mortality and shorter flowering periods minimize honey yield. In addition, global warming amplifies external factors that affect the income and livelihood of beekeepers. The cooperatives and project experts are therefore considering resilience-enhancing measures and new methods to compensate for the negative consequences of climate change, such as changing fields. This is done by transporting bee colonies to different regions in order to benefit from various flowering periods. However, these measures have only a limited effect. Honey production continues to decline. Decreasing harvest volumes mean that an important source of income for the families of the beekeepers is being threatened.

Joint Efforts for Reconstruction

A landslide in Londa, India.
A landslide in Londa, India. © Jyoti Fair Works

In southern India, on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, lie Londa and Chittapur, two sewing facilities of the Jyothi Seva Kendra Trust. The living conditions in this region are strongly influenced by the monsoon. The lack of rain and weak rainfalls have repeatedly led to drought and aridity in recent years. However, Chittapur is currently suffering from the worst drought period in over 50 years. Therefore, many people are leaving their villages to escape the precarious income situation and find work in the cities. The sewing factory, where women are trained as tailors, ensures that the women have access to education and a secure income.

Another sewing facility of the project is located in Londa, just under 500 kilometres away. There is no drought here, on the contrary: the rainfall of last year’s monsoon was so heavy that the water damaged some of their buildings. In addition, the houses of two team members collapsed. An emergency fundraising campaign was jointly organised by the Lemonaid & ChariTea Foundation and Jyoti Fair Works, the German-Indian fashion label, which sells the sewed clothes. We doubled the donations received by us and were thus able to contribute a total of 1020€ to the reconstruction.

Repair of a house damaged by the monsoon in Londa, India
Repair of a house damaged by the monsoon in Londa, India. © Jyoti Fair Works

Sustainable livelihoods for all

At least since the heat wave of summer 2018, it has been clear that climate change is already having an impact in Germany as well. In the Climate Risk Index of the NGO Germanwatch, Germany ranks third among the countries most affected by extreme weather in the year 2018. Also three of our project countries – Rwanda, Sri Lanka and India – are in the top 10. Climate change will not only affect us in 50 years – its serious consequences are reality by now. However, Germany has enough financial resources to repair the damage caused by extreme weather. Our project countries do not have these resources.

This is why countries of the Global South in particular will be hit hardest by the consequences of climate change. Extreme weather events, like atypical droughts or rainfalls, will not only cost human lives, but also negatively impact the biodiversity. Simultaneously, many countries of the Global South do not have enough technical and financial resources to strengthen their resilience to impacts on their foodsecurity. Securing the livelihoods of the population and thus combating poverty and hunger is therefore a major challenge.

What does this mean for us and our work? As a Foundation with roots in a rich country of the Global North, our lifestyle is largely responsible for the climate catastrophe. Therefore we want to try to contribute as much as possible to sustainable development and the reduction of climate damage. In order to better cope with the adaptation to climate change, we therefore support local organisations that work towards building resilience in their communities. Projects like “Seeding Futures“, which educates young people in permaculture and sustainability, give us hope for a green future.

But our work is far from being enough. Most importantly, Governments, businesses and international organisations now have to act courageous and determined. We need to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius and thus stop climate change. Because with less frequent extreme weather events, Bulungula Incubator farmers can finally reap the fruits of their hard work.