Climate change seems to be blighting large parts of Africa. The effects are more pronounced than in the industrialized world, and people in developing nations are less able to deal with them.
VIDEO: UNICEF correspondent Chris Niles reports on how climate change is altering the lives of traditional communities in Ethiopia and Kenya, and how UNICEF and the European Union are working with them on sustainable solutions.
To help address this situation, UNICEF and the European Union are working with communities that must now change in order to survive. They are doing so through sustainable programmes that give these communities responsibility for their own safe water and sanitation.
Nomadic peoples must adapt
In northern Kenya, for example, the semi-nomadic Samburu peoples’ lives are rapidly being reshaped by forces they cannot control. “This is a pastoral community, and one problem they’ve had for a very long time is drought,” said community leader Joseph Lepariya.
Animals play a large part in the Samburus’ culture and economy. In past dry seasons, they would have moved their livestock in search of water. That’s no longer possible because of population pressure.
Since the Samburu can’t move their animals to new pastures, UNICEF and the EU are ensuring that they have safe water. Providing pumps means one less challenge for these traditional people as they adapt to a settled lifestyle.
Small change, big improvements
The Tigray region of Ethiopia faces similar problems. There, land that was once rich and lush has been stripped of life. Ample, clean water exists only as a treasured memory for octogenarian Meles Gebregziabhere.
“This was an evergreen area with many different kinds of indigenous trees. There were rivers. We had adequate land for grazing our cattle and growing our crops,” he says.
Letay Gebregiorgis, a mother in a local village in Tigray, used to have to walk a long way before daybreak and face many dangers to collect dirty water that would often make her family ill. But with help from the EU and UNICEF, her community was able to repair a pump that’s just a 15-minute walk from her home.
This seemingly small change has brought big improvements. The children of the village have stopped getting diarrhoea – one of the main causes of death for Ethiopian children under the age of five. In addition, village women like Ms. Gebregiorgis have more time to care for their families and make a living.
It is a sad irony that Africa, which has contributed less to greenhouse gas emissions than other continents, is bearing some of the worst effects of climate change.
As the land and people’s lives change beyond recognition. UNICEF and the European Union are striving for sustainable development, so that communities can manage their own water resources and enjoy safe water and sanitation.