The Season of Creation runs from 1stSeptember to the feast of St Francis on 4thOctober. It is celebrated by Christians across the world. Five years ago Pope Francis wrote an encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’, specifically on the subject of caring for the earth, our common home. He is clear that we must act to curtail climate change, writing,
“ both everyday experiences and scientific research show the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poor” (LS 48)
It comes as no surprise to N4BW volunteers that the people of Malawi produce 80% less CO2 than Europeans or that they suffer most from the effects of climate change. Around Sitima it’s quite rare to see a car or lorry on the roads, people walk or cycle everywhere, public transport is a bicycle taxi and the only farming tool is a heavy hoe. Water supply is communal and pumped up by hand. The village of Kachulu, on Lake Chilwa, has suffered badly as water levels fall and fish stocks reduce. Last year, in the dry season, for the first time it was even possible to drive across the lake.
We have seen and heard from the people of Sitima about their everyday experiences of climate change; about less predictable rainfall, increased flooding alternating with years of drought and then last year, Cyclone Idai, bringing severe damage to schools, homes and crops.
Subsistence farmers and fishermen, day labourers and people on very low incomes do not have the means we in rich countries do to withstand or quickly recover from these calamities. For this reason, many N4BW projects are directly concerned with equipping and empowering local people to improve their environment and adapt to and cope with climate change. Some examples include: solar powered irrigation plots for women to grow vegetables, over 1000 solar lamps, stoves which use 50% less wood or charcoal, kitchen gardens in schools and homes, a tree nursery and an annual tree planting day when over 3000 trees are distributed. Money has been allocated for school water supplies, we have funded training in sustainable agriculture for communities and a school conference on climate change.
I’ll finish with a fundraising idea: we all have multiple taps in our houses and consequently use (and waste) much more water than the people in Sitima. Our supplies rely on electricity to clean and pump the water, adding to global warming. For 1 day count the number of times you turn the tap on – then for each time donate 10p (or more) to N4BW.