In Madagascar, we are supporting disaster-mitigation AMID DROUGHT AND FLOODING CAUSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE
In Madagascar, climate change has led to more extreme temperatures and more frequent and harsher storms.
As a result, there are droughts. Family sell all they own to buy food, but eventually the money runs out and famine follows.
USPG has sent emergency grants and the Anglican Church in Madagascar has been providing food aid.
In March 2017, USPG invited some of our friends from the Anglican Church in Malawi to meet their brothers and sisters in Madagascar to talk about how they responded to drought. This is an example of how USPG encourages learning exchanges across regions so that expertise can be shared.
The input from Malawi was greatly appreciated and now the church in Madagascar is developing its own disaster preparedness strategy.
This is a good example of partnership within the Anglican Communion, with churches who have undergone similar experiences sharing ideas and supporting one another by drawing on local skills and resources.
‘The impact of climate change is visible and real’
We asked the Revd Canon Samitiana Jhonson, Provincial Secretary, Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean, about his understanding and experience of climate change. Here’s what he said.
In my experience, as a Malagasy person, the most obvious experience of climate change is how unusual it is to have so many cyclones. during the hot season we now have three or four cyclones each year. not only is the number of cyclones increasing but so is their speed and strength.
At the same time, because the temperature is also rising, the south part of the island is becoming drier. The drought is critical and has led to famine. Last November, the Bishop of Toliara visited a parish to perform a christening, and a week later five of the children that had been christened had died due to a lack of food and drinking water.
Across all the islands in our province, climate change is having a significant impact on our economic lives. As island people, much of our livelihood is based on fishing. The sea is getting warmer so fish are becoming rarer as they swim at deeper levels. This means fishing has become difficult, and I think that even the government is beginning to realise the need to find alternative livelihoods.
In rural inland areas, the population relies on agriculture and farming. However, reduced rainfall has ruined harvests, and this has been compounded by the impact of cyclones. For nine months of the year, the land receives too little rainfall, then in the remaining three months, cyclones destroy the land even further.
Food prices are on the increase so people, whose livelihoods are already suffering, are going hungry. This has a knock-on effect on other aspects of life. For example, during dry periods, some parents don’t send their children to school because they are needed to help the family work and find food. Also, parents are usually required to send children to school with their meals, which they aren’t able to do.
As a church, our communities are helping with reconstruction after disasters. Often in such times the best thing the church can do is open its doors and offer a safe place for the people to stay while they are rebuilding their lives.
The church has also started to think more about how we can protect the land, manage our water and support communities hit by disasters. We are also looking at how we can make our communities more resilient. We are having these discussions as a province and are receiving training from the government as well.
Globally, we know that we are facing different degrees of climate change and that some parts of the world are more exposed than others. But the impact of climate change cannot be denied: it is visible and real and we need to help each other to understand that. We need to be globally aware and to think deeply on behalf of communities where climate change is life-destroying. We need to listen to each other as one community and learn from each other’s strengths and weaknesses so that we may rebuild lives and face climate change together.
As Christians, Creation – and re-creation – must be part of our liturgy and teaching.