HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsHow climate change accelerates poverty and threatens livelihoods

How climate change accelerates poverty and threatens livelihoods


AT independence in 1980 when I was growing up, I used to read and hear people talk about mantras such as health for all by the year 2000, education for all and poverty eradication by such and such a year.

Guest column: Peter Makwanya

Yes, during those days of socialist philosophies and ideologies, it was everything for all, that is in principle and not in practical terms. For that reason, poverty prevailed and ravaged quite a number of countries and one would wonder where everything for all was.

Although it is difficult to eradicate poverty, it is also significant to manage it. As such, people look up to relevant authorities and the government to play their roles.

This is where governments are required to put policies into practice and also the development sector to spearhead programmes that promote and strengthen people’s livelihoods.

These are programmes that contribute to food security, environmental protection, sustainability and resilience, as part of comprehensive climate action strategies.

With the world history in vicious cycles and impacts of climate change on the rise, surely poverty cannot be simply wished away, even by advanced forms of glib and rhetoric. For centuries, some countries have been directly and indirectly nursing the growth of poverty.

For that reason, poverty has been talked about endlessly, depending on countries’ standpoints or ideologies at play. But to date, one monster in the name of climate change has entered the block, and is threatening to turn everything upside down and make the majority of us poor, or maintaining the already existing poverty.

If we are not careful about performing our environmental stewardship obligations, surely, we would be rendered very poor in terms of energy, climate literacy poverty, water sustenance, rainfall pattern shifts and shortage of agricultural land, among other things.

Floods, earthquakes, droughts, hunger and famine are becoming more frequent and inherent, especially in the cursed developing world.

This is mainly due to either failure to sufficiently plan or rather, as is now typical of most of these countries, planning to fail.

As climate change accelerates, with no resilient and meaningful climate action strategies in sight, the world’s centre and its ability to hold is gradually losing its grip, threatening things to fall apart.

On the part of developing countries, it is already tragedies in the making as a result of incapacitations, poor funding for climate action programmes as well as the inability for the poor to build resilience.

In this regard, climate change does not only affect the environment but the people as well, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Confronted by hardened insects, pests and bacteria, together with their ability to resist chemical effects, the health well-being of especially the poor is severely compromised.

All the above drawbacks are a result of the fast-changing climate or simply environment getting stupid.

Furthermore, the respective governments with developing world communities of practice, lack funding and organised social protection strategies in attempts to implement even the Sustainable Development Goal 1, aimed at building resilience among the poor and those in equally vulnerable situations, in order to be able to manage their vulnerability statuses.

As we speak, many developing countries, by design or folly, always encounter challenges in managing even minor environmental shocks, setbacks and climate-related disasters such as floods, strong and violent winds, heat or cold.

It is also disheartening that the levels of pollution – especially from the land (garbage/solid waste) – air (carbon emissions and smoke from burning bushes), water (industrial, mining and agricultural waste) and metal (e-waste), continue to compound the already dire situation.

And together, the above elements and substances are major drivers of the fast-changing climate.

In the event of floods striking or violent winds unfolding, poor governments and struggling economies normally take ages to respond, rebuild, or fund reconstructions for the destroyed infrastructure.

Depending on the affected countries’ ideological orientations and alignments, international donors may not be as prompt and proactive as expected.

Livelihoods development may also be compromised if the countries rely mostly on seasonal rains, so that they can start farming.

With over-reliance on only rain-fed agriculture, and lacking the capacity to fund small, medium, and large-scale irrigation schemes, these countries may not realise food security even in instances where there are functional water bodies.

One may question how developing countries fail to manage procedural gaps so that vulnerability is reduced so that deep-rooted poverty is managed.

Also, to what extent are these countries prepared to implement the pro-poor policies since they claim to be people-oriented.

It is indulging in pro-poor policies which would uplift their countries from the jaws of poverty.

Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: petrovmoyt@gmail.com

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