Coping With Climate Change

Jun 4th, 2014 | By | Category: Adaptation, Development and Climate Change, India

image_previewCommunities in India, as across the world, need to adapt to climate change. A recent World Bank report suggests that the nation is set to experience more extreme, unpredictable weather. For families already stretched to their limits, monsoons, floods and drought add to the immense strain of survival. Extreme weather also increases competition for natural resources and food, which tends to disadvantage girls even more and put education further out of reach – which perpetuates poverty.

Food for thought

In a nation where malnutrition causes around half of all childhood deaths, climate change could have a major impact on food availability and public health. Malnutrition can limit child development and the capacity to learn. Anaemia, for example, already affects 90% of adolescent girls in India, causing lethargy and an inability to concentrate.

In Nikita’s village, healthcare is scarce. When we stepped in to help her family, Nikita was anaemic, underweight and short for her 16 years. Her mother said: “I was really worried. Her periods had become irregular and I didn’t know who to talk to.”

Women in conservative rural India struggle to talk about reproductive health. But helped by SOS staff, Nikita’s mother spoke to the doctor, attended workshops and got practical guidance on good health, hygiene and nutrition.

“I started growing green leafy vegetables rich in iron and minerals. It was a cheap, healthy way to give my children a nutrient-rich diet.”

As Nikita’s health improved, she gained height and weight, overcame her anaemia and her periods stabilised. She became actively involved at school again, safeguarding her chance to get qualified, earn a living and enjoy a healthier future.

Help brings a healthy harvest

Sameera lives with her husband, four daughters and son in Andhra Pradesh, a part of southern India increasingly prone to drought. Like most of their neighbours, they are farmers in a village where only half the people are literate and almost 90% live in poverty. Their two acres of land had no proper irrigation, so erratic rainfall led to two lean years without a viable harvest or food to sell.

When debts piled up following another crop failure, Sameera was forced to choose between educating her only son or four daughters. In keeping with tradition, her son’s education was prioritised while two of her girls had to drop out of school to do odd jobs to boost the family income.

On the brink of despair, the family was offered community support. We funded her eldest daughter to train as a skilled embroiderer and paid for school fees, uniforms and books to keep her other four children learning.

We also trained Sameera in new farming methods, gave her a subsidy for a new well and a loan to invest in the farm so she could produce more food to sell. With this support, she earned enough in a year to settle the family’s debts. Today she is active in the local women’s business self-help group. Having transformed her life and prospects for her daughters, she is guiding other women out of the desperate situation she was once in.

“Thanks to SOS Children’s Villages, my four girls are all being educated with the chance of a good future, something I never thought possible.”



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