Posts tagged ‘climate change’
Compiled by Caree Edson, KF 14, Armenia
One of the unfortunate sight-seeing adventures that you never sign up for when you travel (especially in developing countries) is the unseemly amount of trash cluttering the otherwise beautiful landscapes. In Armenia, it isn’t possible to see the horizon through the smog most days and the streets are covered in cigarette butts and litter. I found no exceptions to this as I inquired from other Kiva Fellows about the dire situation in their countries. Environmental education and reform are simply not a top priority in many countries. But the future of climate change initiatives are not entirely hopeless…
Compiled by Alexis Ditkowsky, KF14, South Africa
This past week was all about collaboration: Fellows coordinating across continents to profile entrepreneurs and organizations who believe International Women’s Day should be every day and community members coming together to celebrate Carnival in all of its elaborate glory. We learned about public health in Peru, making cheese and cigars in Nicaragua, the impact of climate change in Bolivia, and the challenges faced by a microcredit saleswoman in Guatemala. Life as a Kiva Fellow is busy as always!
Clara Vreeken is a Kiva Fellow in Bolivia, where she works for IMPRO, Pro Mujer and Emprender. Last week mud torrents destroyed 400 homes in the capital La Paz. Climate change in Bolivia leads to less food production, hunger and protests in the streets.
Once upon a time in Oaxaca, Mexico there was a fine river which flowed below Jicaltepec. Nowadays the fish are gone and the earth is dry. Young children are wide-eyed at their parents’ stories of playing and swimming in the river as children themselves.
It seems impossibly dry in the Costa Chica, a region on the south coast of Mexico a few hours east of Acapulco. Straddling the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, the villages of the Costa Chica are far removed from the decadence of the famous resort town.
The hills are tinderbox- dry, and at night fires dance on distant ridgelines. People confidently tell me that the rains will come in May or June, but last year it didn’t rain until October and then only for one month. The town of Pinotepa Nacional has run out of water, and there are tensions over the licenses to truck in water for those who can afford to pay for it.
As the river has dried up so has the farming sector. Fields which were once farmed now lie fallow. Pedro, the manager of the Fundacion Realidad (FRAC) office in Pinotepa, tells me that many peasant farmers have left the region in search of opportunities in El Norte (the United States). With them has gone much of the knowledge of traditional farming in the area.
If you haven’t heard, there have been terrible floods in Cusco, Peru in the past week. Since we are in the thick of La Epoca de la Lluvia (the rainy season), rain is expected but the level of destruction seen in the area is unimaginable.
Tourism is the main industry in Cusco, and the damage produced by the rain does substantial damage on the Cusco economy. From the February 3rd warden message from the U.S. Embassy in Peru, I read that Machu Picchu is closed and the rail line between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes is closed due to landslides until possibly March. I also read that tourists were stranded in Aguas Calientes (the town closest to Incan archeological site Machu Picchu) and that the conditions were excruciating. Luckily, helicopters eventually evacuated all the tourists from the town.
Unfortunately, my Kiva clients in Cusco don’t have that luxury.
By Suzy Price Marinkovich, KF9 Bolivia
“In a world that is hot—a world that is more and more affected by global warming—guess who is going to suffer the most? It will be the people who caused it the least—the poorest people in the world, who have no electricity, no cars, no power plants, and virtually no factories to emit CO2 into the atmosphere. Many of the 2.4 billion people who live on $2 a day or less reside in rural areas and depend directly on the soil, forests, and plants in their immediate vicinity for subsistence.” –Thomas Friedman, “Hot, Flat, & Crowded” (Pg. 158)
What I have learned the most since I arrived in South America as a Kiva Fellow seven months ago is that, not only is climate change real – it is making the poor poorer faster than we can create infrastructure to accommodate it. Bolivia has been devastated by heightened temperatures melting glaciers around La Paz, for example, which have in turn dried up rivers that irrigated entire mountainous communities who are now going from poor to extremely poor—and dangerously fast. In Cochabamba, the drying up of rivers can not only be felt but it can be seen nearly everywhere, in old riverbeds now littered with trucks filling up with gravel. Even worse, these trucks are loading up gravel in the middle of “la epoca de lluvia,” or the rainy season, which now feels very much a misnomer for Cochabambinos.
Kiva’s newest partner in Bolivia, CIDRE, is by far most proud of its potable water and irrigation projects – and once you hear what they are up to, you will understand why.
CIDRE approaches agricultural communities with recently dried-up river beds or nonexistent irrigation systems and arranges a community-style loan at very low interest. I say “community” and not “group” loan because the loan is taken out for one purpose, to build a well, and then is repaid by each household as part of the larger sum. I had the opportunity to attend the 6-year anniversary party of a CIDRE-funded community well in the rural area and was astonished at the overwhelming pride the community had for the well. CIDRE’s veteran loan officer Juan and I were treated like the guests of honor; we were even asked to bless the well, give speeches, and shake hands with every single member of the community. It was extraordinarily humbling. I particularly loved Juan’s speech, as he introduced me by explaining Kiva to the community, and telling them how it will help CIDRE bring more wells to dry Cochabamba farming communities. Seeing the joy in their faces at the potential impact this could have for their neighbors was my absolute proudest moment as a Kiva Fellow and it brought tears to my eyes.
Rigoberto, the president of the community’s agricultural cooperative, took me on a tour to tell me why exactly they were so proud about this well. (more…)
by Agnes Chu, KF9, Samoa
Since the infamous earthquake that caused the tsunami in Samoa on Sept. 29, there have been three more earthquakes felt here. They are minor but no less nerve-wracking. As the ground jolts for a few seconds, people, including senior management, rush out of the office and some stay in the hills for the night. When a harmless earthquake struck near Vanuatu, an island 1,400 miles away, Apia was evacuated for a couple of hours; tsunami drills are certain to be a fixture in Samoa’s future. Ghost stories also abound around the island (Samoans are very superstitious). I accompanied a centre manager on field visits to areas of the coast wrecked by the tsunami, because she had heard those stories of taxi drivers picking up the ghosts of tsunami victims, was afraid and needed company. She also insisted that I keep an eye on the ocean as she barreled down the road. (Her fear, though, was well-justified by an earthquake which occurred during our trip. Fortunately, we were at a loan centre away from the ocean and the earth shook for only a couple of seconds.) Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga has declared that there is “great fear in the country.” Samoa is on edge.
Traditionally, Samoans view the ocean as peaceful and giving. They struggle to reconcile the events of Sept. 29. Many explanations are offered and discussed in circles. For some, the tsunami and the recent geological unrest in the Pacific are an affirmation of climate change and a wake-up call for awareness and action from the rest of the world. A low-lying island, Samoa is at high risk when seawaters rise and storms come. Many houses lie on the edge of the coast, which is ringed by a little seawall made of stacked rocks only three feet high in most spots. It resembles decoration more than a barrier. (Most of the seawall is privately owned and built, another reason of why it is so tiny.)