Raising children is tough in most circumstances. From the moment of birth, someone is entirely dependent on you for their most basic needs: food, water, shelter as well as their development into adulthood.
But right now, climate change is taking those basics away in many parts of the world – and it’s the poorest families who are suffering most.
So how do you fight for your child’s survival, as well as their future, in the face of a global crisis?
Three parents on the frontline of climate change have shared their stories.
“I was broken-hearted, I thought I was going to lose my little girl.” Joana, Guatemala
Guatemala is one of the countries in Central America known as the ‘dry corridor’, and is now experiencing one of the worst droughts in 10 years. Joana and her family live in Quebrada Seca, Jocotán – one of the driest areas in the district. Water is scarce as a result of rain, and it’s affected her community’s harvests badly.
“I have three children. The boys are keeping well [but] the girl is sick, yes. She suffered from severe malnutrition. She was really skinny. Really skinny and losing all her hair.
I was broken-hearted, I thought I was going to lose my little girl… I told my husband I thought we were going to lose our pretty little girl.
You need to run around a lot for your kids to get better. So that’s what I did.
I left the boy[s] and told [their] father to look after him while I went away with [my] little girl to look after her to get the medicine she needs. I was [at the hospital] for 15 days. After two weeks, I came back. My husband looked at the girl and asked me how she was. And I said she was getting a bit better.
When I was growing up with my mom [and dad], they grew corn, beans.
And then after a while, it didn’t rain any more and the harvest was scarce. Especially the bean crop. People worked hard to get some beans but they just got very little. They didn’t get any corn.
If it stops raining, milpa [the traditional farming system in Central America] is dry and then it’s all just dust.
That’s when people suffer, when they need to earn some money to buy corn.
I ask my husband: how is it possible that we were born in such a poor place, where there’s no money? If you have money you do well, but if you don’t, you suffer and struggle to find just enough to get food for your children.
Being this poor is really hard. And the land is dry. All this… It makes you think.
If you could help us get better. We won’t stop being poor but at least we’d have enough to provide for our children. So they can grow strong, healthy and have a balanced diet.”
Oxfam teams in Guatemala are monitoring children for signs of malnutrition, and providing emergency food and funds so that families can buy food through the dry season. You can help families around the world who are facing climate change by supporting our appeal.
“It will not be easy to rebuild our house like it was before. Life is not easy for us now.” Tawab, Mozambique
Just six weeks after Cyclone Idai struck countries across southern Africa, Cyclone Kenneth became another deadly reminder that climate change is fuelling ever more extreme weather. Tawab was photographed with his two-year-old son Calado last May, after flooding from Cyclone Kenneth cut off the area of Metuje, Mozambique.
Tawab was carrying Calado through floodwaters after taking him to hospital. He had been suffering from an eye condition and difficulty breathing in the wake of the destruction.
“Ever since the storm my children have been sick. Two walls of our house have gone, and half of the roof. I was very afraid. The wind was so strong. Trees were falling through the electricity lines, and one even hit the wall of our house.”
“Most of the crops in my village have been taken by the water. And we are an agricultural community so we depended on those crops. Every year there is some flooding here but not like this. This is so much worse. These rains are like nothing we’ve ever seen before. There is so much damage. It will not be easy to rebuild our house like it was before. Life is not easy for us now.”
In the aftermath of Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth, Oxfam worked with local organisations to distribute food and hygiene kits, reaching over 606,000 people across four countries. Almost a year after the disasters we’re still there, and working to help people to rebuild their lives with livelihoods support.
Mozambique is the sixth-poorest country in the world according to IMF. Its carbon emissions are 55 times less than the US.
“As a [nomadic animal herder] my children didn’t get an education. Now we are settled, so this life is better.” Hassana, Ethiopia
Across Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya over 10 million people are food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance. Many people have not yet recovered from the previous severe drought in 2017.
Hassana is a widow and has five children. After losing her husband, climate change took her livelihood as a pastoralist (nomadic animal herder). She had to change her entire way of life to support her family.
“My husband passed away 10 years ago. He was sick. After my husband died, I moved here. We got support. Some of my children went to Djibouti [for] school.
The pastoralist life is very hard – it’s difficult. Especially being alone without my husband. The worst time was five years ago. The drought killed a lot of livestock… My neighbours lost a lot of animals too. We had no rain.
When we first received help from Oxfam we dug a well together. We installed a generator. We learned how to plant seeds and set up irrigation channels. Now we have planted Sudan grass to feed our animals. I’m growing tomatoes and onions too. We have harvested a lot.
As a pastoralist my children didn’t get an education. Now we are settled, so this life is better. Right now one of my daughters is in Aysha. She can support her own life. She is a health worker.
The droughts are getting more frequent and prolonged. This farm is green, but in the bush area there is no pasture for our animals. A lot of people are facing problems. They move around a lot. Sometimes to Somalia and back. The livestock are very thin and there is no milk for our children.
My husband would appreciate me farming the land.”
Oxfam is working across countries in East Africa affected by drought, providing funds to help people get food, and repairing boreholes and powering them with solar panels to help communities get a sustainable source of clean water to drink and grow crops.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Right now, we are running a Climate Emergency Appeal to help communities on the front line of climate change. A gift from you today can help families around the world to get food and water for their children.