Tearfund launches climate change adaptation guide

By staff writers
April 12, 2007

Christian aid agency Tearfund has launched a report aimed at helping the development community adapt to the reality of climate change.

Entitled: 'Adapting to Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for the Development Community' it offers advice and a framework for organisations to think through their approach to adaptation.

Research was carried out by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the report aims to stimulate debate on key issues around development and climate change adaptation, previously only of interest to the ‘climate change community’.

The report stresses that development agencies should not delay in working on adaptation projects as climate change threatens progress on poverty reduction.

Dr Tom Tanner, a fellow of the Institute of Development Studies, said: “The IPCC report suggests poor people in developing countries will be hardest hit by climate change, putting many existing development efforts at risk of failure. Development NGOs therefore need to get to grips with how activities to reduce poverty can simultaneously help poor people cope with and adapt to a changing climate. The Tearfund report is designed to raise awareness on adaptation and to help organisations work through that process.”

The report comes as community leaders in Africa call for more urgent global action on climate change following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) latest report, revealing how millions of people are already being affected.

Tadesse Dadi, Tearfund’s Program Support Advisor in Ethiopia, said: “While discussions in the West seem to us to be about disaster that is yet to strike, we have been living with climate variability for many years. We read about the threat to polar bears, or a rare plant species- and whilst these are important, we sometimes wonder if the poor farmers of Ethiopia are being forgotten. Climate change may not yet be a problem for people in Europe, but here in Ethiopia its effects are being felt today by millions of ordinary men and women farmers.

“We send an urgent plea to world governments today- don’t forget us, or the millions of others in the developing world, living on the edge because of climate change. It is certain that things are only going to get worse in the future.”

The World Bank estimated between $10 billion and $40 billion per year is needed to help developing countries adapt to climate change. In reality, world governments have only given $90 million in total.

UK Christian relief and development agency Tearfund supports projects in developing countries to help communities adapt to the ravages of climate change. For years now, Tearfund’s partners have echoed the IPCC’s findings by reporting a catastrophic cocktail of increased droughts, an increase in killer diseases, more intense tropical cyclones, erratic rainfall, and failing harvests. Climate change analysis focuses on predicting future impacts, but already across the globe communities are battling with the fallout.

Tearfund also supports a Christian charity called JEMED in Niger, which works with Tuareg and Wodaabe nomads across 24 sites in Niger to adapt to the changing climate so they can maintain their pastoral lifestyle and economy into the future.

Tearfund partner Jeff Woodke, programme director of JEMED, said: “We need to see much more money available to help deal with the impacts of climate change. Adaptation is something that must be stressed in terms of development spending, and it must not be limited to the confines of the Kyoto Protocol. The traditional livelihood of nomads in Niger is at risk. Droughts regularly decimate herds. This coupled with changes in rainfall amounts and patterns places the pastoralists on a downward spiral of economic loss and poverty.”

Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the MET Office and the first chairman of the IPCC's scientific assessment, advises Tearfund on climate change. He said: “The scientific debate about the basic issue of climate change is over. Climate change is real. Evidence for it is to be seen in every corner of the globe. Tearfund have sounded an urgent warning that climate change is already hitting places like Ethiopia and Niger hard. World governments are not yet meeting this call with sufficient investment and hard action to cut global emissions and help the poorest nations to adapt to climate change.”

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