For food-insecure countries, the effects of climate change is a constant worry. Studies have shown that climate change is already having a negative effect on rice and wheat yields, reducing outputs each year by 0.3% and 0.9%, respectively.
The problems produced by climate change -- warming temperatures, frequent droughts, and unpredictable weather patterns -- are causing crop failure in vulnerable communities, resulting in loss of income. It’s a global crisis that is pushing families back into poverty at an alarming rate.
But we are not without hope.
Solving the complex issues brought on by climate change is possible. It only requires a new way of thinking.
After listening to thousands of farmers across the world struggling to produce enough food to feed their families, Tearfund has been working hard to address crop failure with creative solutions. One of those solutions involves teaching communities how to harness climate-smart agricultural techniques.
Abebech* and her husband own a farm in the village of Offa Esho Kebele in south-west Ethiopia, where they rear livestock and produce crops on half a hectare of land (nearly 6,000 square yards). Over the years, they have faced the devastating loss of crops because of climate change.
Land in south-west Ethiopia has become less fertile due to poor land management practices, soil erosion, and repeated cultivation. Every year, the cost of chemical fertilizer increases and Abebech and her husband cannot afford to buy it. They have also suffered recurring droughts in the area. As a result, their crop output isn’t enough food to feed her family or provide an income.
“We have witnessed a shortage of rainfall during the farming season,” says Abebech. “Life grows more difficult as our land loses its fertility. We are dependent on just one or two crops which are now much less productive. We struggle to provide food for our children. We cannot make a living.”
Tearfund’s partner in Ethiopia chose Abebech for a pilot project where she received three days of training on the principles and practical application of conservation agriculture. The training focused on new farming techniques that are proven resilient to the effects of climate change. All they asked in return was that she teach what she learned to other farmers.
As a result of this training, she has now started to mulch her farmland. Mulching improves soil fertility, reduces weed growth, and conserves soil moisture. “The training helped me to adopt the practice of conservation agriculture in our farming. I now understand the need for mulching my farmland instead of plowing it,” says Abebech.
Abebech is also a member of a local self-help group (SHG) where she saves on a weekly basis. She is spreading the news about conservation agriculture among her SHG peers and there are plans to run the training on a larger scale in the future.
At Tearfund, we seek to bring an end to the injustice and poverty wrought by climate change. To us, a new way of thinking means finding alternative ways of living together that doesn’t devastate our environment or the world’s most vulnerable people.
As we seek to mobilize the church on climate change, we know that prayer is an integral part of the process. This guide will help you pray through four key areas: God’s creation, caretakers, the human impact, and world leaders.
*Names have been changed to protect identity.
Special thanks to Desalegn Demissie for contributing Abebech’s story.
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