These pictures are as much a token of hope as they are of the urgency of action needed and serve to remind us all of the importance of resilience building in the wake of climate change.Carola van Rijnsoever, Director of Inclusive Green Growth, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
These photos showcase the stories of people and communities who are becoming resilient to disasters and who are adapting to the consequences of climate change in the Partners for Resilience Alliance. The exhibition also gives an overview of what these people need in the face of climate change and uncertainty.
Ethiopia: Resilience is now a reality
Kediga Humed works hard and is dedicated to changing her life for the better. She farms and lives in the Beladulo village in the Afar region in Ethiopia. Characterized by an arid and semi-arid climate, Afar has erratic and low levels of rainfall. The recurring droughts that have changed the abundant grass and shrub landscapes have made life for pastoralists like Kediga both difficult and unpredictable. The next five years will see prolonged exposure to extreme heat in the region, resulting in heat stress on the community.
Through Partners for Resilience, Kediga and her community received training in irrigation crop production, market accessibility and storage systems for agricultural products. This inspired her and the rest of the community to diversify their livelihoods and income streams so that they are prepared to face the drought. They farm, rear livestock, and they prepare to share their agricultural produce with relatives who are unable to farm during periods of drought. They are overcoming the lean period by helping each other.
For Kediga, resilience means being prepared to face the drought — together.
Guatemala: The solution is in our hands
Raquel Vásquez knows there is an innate connection between the Earth and women: ‘’They both feed the world. They both give life.’’ Raquel leads the grassroots organization Madre Tierra in Guatemala. Over the last 24 years, Madre Tierra has been a safe space for Raquel to become an independent woman, interact with civil society and local and national authorities, and advocate for women’s empowerment.
In the next 10 years, river and urban floods, heat stress and damaging wind speeds are likely to occur in Guatemala. Partners for Resilience supports Madre Tierra members by sharing knowledge about the consequences of climate change and how to adapt. This knowledge is crucial for women’s empowerment: Guatemala is highly vulnerable to disasters, and women and girls are more likely to suffer when the land, forest and water resources on which their livelihoods depend are heavily impacted. In Raquel’s community, climate change was first felt in the form of water scarcity. For Raquel, one thing is clear: without women, there will be no solutions. She reasons that, “Considering that the destruction of the Earth is caused by human beings, the solution is in our hands.”
For Raquel, resilience means strengthening civil society’s capacities to advocate and adapt to climate change.
Haiti: Resilience is information
Agronomy student Jacky Dolcé has seen the dramatic effects of regular flooding on the people living and farming in Haiti’s Arbonite River Basin. The next 10 years will bring increasing climate change-related events, including river, urban and coastal floods, as well as cyclones and wildfires.
Through the Open Mapping project, Partners for Resilience wants to create a detailed mapping of floods in the Arbonite River Basin. Aware that information technologies will be crucial for better risk assessments.
In the area, Jacky voluntarily participated in the OpenStreetMap and Mapathon training organized by Partners for Resilience. Through this program, Jacky is learning how to better manage the basin’s changing environment and natural resources and enhance the resilience of farmers. Young individuals like Jacky are at the forefront of the response to the disastrous floods impacting communities of the Artibonite district.
For Jacky and his community, resilience means mastering technologies to better assess flood risk.
India: Youth for resilience
Avani Bhojabhai Parmar is a young Dalit girl from Baniyari, Gujarat, in the west of India. While Avani has expressed fear of a future where water will be scarce—one that is compounded by the discrimination her community faces by the upper classes—her growing voice in her community’s resilience planning reflects the broad participation we need to make positive changes toward adaptation. In her region, communities’ livelihoods are threatened by risks presented by a changing climate and the environmental degradation that followed the development of industrial and communications infrastructure. In the next 10 years, damaging and life-threatening river and coastal floods, cyclones, heat stresses and droughts are likely to occur.
With local partners, Partners for Resilience chose the gram panchyat of Baniyari as a starting point to organize community meetings to assess risks, vulnerabilities, ecosystem services and capacities.
Since 2018, at the age of 15, Avani has taken part in these village meetings. While she began as a quiet observer, you can see in this picture that she is now taking charge of the conversation, documenting the risks her community faces. On the map on the ground, she drew her and her community’s understanding of their surroundings, including the ecosystem services they use and the risks those systems face with a changing climate. This map and the outcomes of the meeting informed the community’s risk reduction plan development process.
For Avani, resilience means that age and class are not barriers to engaging in and influencing the conversations that impact your future.
Indonesia: Small acts can achieve big results
Jupiter Tenistuan is a 60-year-old man living in Oekiu, Indonesia. The tremendously challenging water shortage in Jupiter’s community is projected to worsen in the coming decade. In preparation for the dry season, Jupiter took the initiative to dig a well next to his house to create a source of clean water. At first, the project seemed like a failure: after digging to a depth of 24 metres, there was still no sign of water. But then he was struck with a brilliant idea: when he could not get water from the ground, Jupiter turned his eyes to the skies. By converting the well into a rainwater reservoir, he has created a water supply that lasts all year long.
Inspired by his good practice, Partners for Resilience encouraged the replication of his efforts through village development policies. Today, 97 wells have been built in the village, leveraging government funding for cement, buckets, blocks and ropes. The wells in the village have brought considerable benefits, particularly for women who no longer need to travel far to get clean water.
For Jupiter, resilience means persevering by adopting creative solutions to adapt to droughts.
Kenya: A river unites communities
Just like thousands of communities in the Waso area in Northern Kenya, Agnes Lengínai’s livelihood depends on the Ewaso-Ng’iro river. Year after year, Agnes has witnessed the river reach dangerously low levels with increasing frequency. The low river levels are mainly caused by human activities such as irrigation, but they are also the result of the unforgiving effects of climate change. Increasing scarcity has led to perennial conflicts over water and pasture lands during the dry seasons—conflicts that risk being exacerbated by the construction of a mega dam on the river.
In 2017, Agnes took part in the Camel Caravan Walk , organised in collaboration with Partners for Resilience. Along with more than 200 participants, Agnes led a camel to the various stops along a 240 km journey to advocate for the protection and restoration of the basin ecosystems and to promote peaceful co-existence among the communities who depend on the river. Communities and officials heard the Caravan’s calls and, among other things, discussed a policy for sand harvesting and called for the organization of a river convention.
For Agnes and the people living along the Ewaso-Ng’iro, resilience means joining together to overcome adversity.
Mali: Women empowerment
Fanta Bocoum is a 41-year old mother of four living in Ouenkoro, Mali, in the Inner Niger Delta. When Fanta became a widow, she was forced to abandon her land. This made her particularly vulnerable in a context where land is the main means of production. As droughts are expected to increase in frequency in the next decade, access to land will guarantee various underlying rights, such as the use and control over food and non-food resources.
A lack of access for Fanta means a lack of control over her family’s well-being. Through Partners for Resilience, Fanta got involved in a women’s union and a community coalition that has been trained to better organize and advocate for land tenure systems. Fanta lobbied elected officials, traditional chiefs and landowners for changes to land tenure and the allocation of land to women. ‘’The land is everything to us. Without it, we cannot live,’’ she proclaimed. The mayor, landlord and the sub-prefect in her district listened and signed an agreement to transfer property to Fanta and other women in Ouenkoro. Now Fanta is an inspiration to many and is determined to continue her efforts. “I’m using my voice, and it’s working,” she said.
In Fanta’s community, resilience means that women have rightful ownership of land.
Philippines: Disaster preparedness
Alvin Martin, a father of five, lives and fishes in Navotas, Philippines. Alvin’s fishing community has been deeply affected by climate change, water pollution and solid waste, as well as stark competition by large commercial fishing companies now also fishing in the area. For Alvin, the climatic and economic uncertainty led him to get involved in advocating for his community: he leads an organization of small-scale fishers in their conversations with the government about opportunity and adaptation to extreme weather events. The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, with rising sea levels threatening 70% of the municipalities. This climate-related threat has dramatic consequences for the population of Navotas, where more than 90% of the population have livelihoods that are related to the fishing sector.
Partners for Resilience has been working with Alvin and his community to better understand the impacts of climate change and pollution on their livelihoods and strengthen their capacity to adapt to changes in their environment. “During typhoons, our income used to stop,” explains Alvin. “Our boats were not sturdy enough to withstand the waves. Through the trainings we received, we are now more prepared for these disasters”, he adds. In addition to working with the fishers, Partners for Resilience has worked with different municipalities in the MANATUTI river system in Metro Manila to develop integrated solutions to climate risk.
For Alvin and his community, resilience means involving multiple stakeholders to develop shared solutions to restore the environment.
South Sudan: Improving cookstoves
Kiden lives in South Sudan, a country with an abundance of natural resources, but where years of conflict and marginalization have resulted in it being one of the most underdeveloped in the world. In addition, communities are affected by recurrent hazards, including floods and drought, and the associated risks are exacerbating the already existing poverty levels. This could worsen in the next 10 years, as projections indicate that the country will likely experience river and urban floods, heat stresses, wildfire and droughts.
Sustainable resource management is therefore crucial. Partners for Resilience organized a practical training for community members on the production of fuel-efficient and briquette stoves. Kiden and other women in her community gained the skills to build their own cookstoves and embark on mass production. These new cookstoves reduced the use of firewood up to 66% per day, thereby also reducing the time needed to gather firewood.
For Kiden and her community, resilience means scalable solutions to a sustainable way of life, no matter the fragility of their context.
Uganda: From local to global
Kelle was just a child in 1986, when an attack from Karamojong pastoralists forced her and her family to flee from her home in the Lango region of Uganda to Internally Displaced People’s camps. When Kelle’s community returned to their village, the landscape—once bushy with huge trees, lots of grass and vegetation—had changed. The community resorted to negative coping activities, like charcoal and bush burning, to sustain themselves.
Partners for Resilience offered to train the community on the importance of preserving the swamps and planting trees, and created an income-generating opportunity through beekeeping.
Kelle is now a courageous and strong-willed 40-year-old farmer who grows rice and cassava. She earns additional money from beekeeping and selling the honey locally. But the threat of climate change is a challenge requiring concerted effort and national will. In consultations about the National Climate Change Bill in Uganda, Partners for Resilience shared the experience of Kelle and her community in dealing with droughts. It lobbied for the bill to include gender as a priority area and to provide for the sustainable use of forests and wetlands. In this way the knowledge of the global partnership was combined with local knowledge in the National Climate Change Bill.
For Kelle and her community, resilience means having their voices heard at national and global levels.
These photos were originally presented in an exhibition from February 11 to March 6, 2020 at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hague, Netherlands.