Faith-based organisations key in strengthening climate voices

By Peter Makwanya

THE role of faith-based institutions in environmental management has come a long way and cannot be underestimated. The Catholics, Anglicans, Adventists, Islamic Aid, Evangelists, Red-Crescent, World-Vision, Christian Aid, Dan Aid Zimbabwe, Episcopal Relief and Development, among others are firmly on the ground taking the climate change discourse to communities.

Projects such as restoration of degraded landscape in rural areas, forest regeneration for carbon sinks and improved livelihoods are gaining positive footprint. These also include biodiversity conservation, water-harvesting techniques, wetland restoration, keeping small livestock, nutritional gardens, climate change education, awareness and literacy for improved resilience.

These faith-based interventions are aimed at correcting human activities which accelerate climate change.

Communities are beginning to value natural resources and environmental stewardship. Knowledge aimed at capacitating communities on crop and livestock production is being provided to communities around the country. Women are also being empowered through projects like nutritional gardens, horticultural farming, poultry, conservation agriculture, crafts, embroidery and other forms of handwork to enable themselves to survive the impacts of climate change.

Faith-based organisations are overseeing other life-changing ventures like bee-keeping projects aimed at realising value from agricultural activities.

Faith-based organisations have lived up to the church doctrine of stewardship in order to keep the earth habitable. With climate change posing numerous livelihood and environmental challenges, faith-based organisations are exploring a variety of pathways to nurture climate voices. These organisations do their work to nurture moral uprightness. They are not afighting environmental issues in isolation but in relation to virtues of climate justice, peace and integrity, emphasising the link between the environment and climate justice.

Around the African continent, faith-based organisations are also arresting desertification, linking it with human survival at the same time engaging in ventures that preserve land for human survival through projects such as the Green Wall in the Sahara Desert. On different occasions and important days on the world environmental calendar, prominent faith-based leaders speak on the climate change crisis.

They are empowering communities to speak out against multinational companies who destabilise the earth for mineral and forest resources for self-interests and enrichment. These are the major causes of the environmental crises, particularly climate change.

Faith-based organisations have their presence on the ground enhancing environmental awareness, education, communication and climate action. In this regard, the country and the world is witnessing emerging transformed discourses of eco-theology, including eco-feminists writing narratives. These give voice to the once marginalised women, children and the youths to speak out against climate injustices.

From the faith-based concerns and points of view, climate change is not only an environmental concern but also a sin. These are sins of carbon emissions from fossil fuel mining and burning, vast land degradation, deforestation, climate inaction and the cost of doing nothing about climate change including language use to hide untoward climate behaviours.

Faith-based initiatives are present in communities living in rural areas and marginal environments. They are targeting them for climate action strategies in order to improve livelihoods and engage them in programmes aimed at meeting their ecological needs through diverse relief efforts. Topical issues at the moment revolve around encouragement of rural communities to adopt sustainable agricultural practices, which do not harm the environment.

These are smart farming techniques aimed at saving water, money, soil, labour and the environment thereby adapting to the impacts of climate change. This becomes vital in ensuring the future of the regions they live, including meeting food and nutritional requirements.

Faith-based organisations utilise the power of prayer in their interventions. They pray for the rains, tolerance, unity, justice, peace and harmony — they pray for everything under the sun. They are prayer warriors and heroes of faith with hope as their trusted empowering and transformative tool.

They place the needy and the poor at the heart of sustainable development. These are the people threatened by the impact of climate change.

Climate change issues are no longer matters of assumption and imagination. They are real concerns of life and death, that is why faith-based leaders are taking a leading role and contributing to lasting solutions to climate challenges.

Through their efforts, individuals and communities are gaining climate preparedness and literacy due to these faith-based efforts throughout the country and the world. The climate shocks are being lessened by faith-based humanitarian efforts so that communities can cope and survive in the context of climate change.

Finally, the resilient narratives across the country are a testimony that faith-based interventions are strengthening community voices and confidence to talk about climate change. They have done enough to boost and build confidence and allay negative fears and attitudes about climate change as a monster.

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