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Sita Sharma Dhakal gives advice at a farming class in Nepal. Credits: Phillip Gibbs/Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

Sita Sharma Dhakal gives advice at a farming class in Nepal.
Credits: Phillip Gibbs/Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand

In western Nepal’s Syangja district there’s been no snowfall for three years and water sources which used to flow all year round have run dry. The villagers know their climate is changing.

Twenty-four-year-old Sita Sharma Dhakal is worried that now rainfall is unpredictable and there are hailstorms which damage the crops. Sita studied to become a “farmer-trainer ” with Caritas Nepal and now teaches skills to other women in her village, Panchamul. “My trainees have increased their yields of cauliflower, beans and cabbages and some are even growing tomatoes in plastic greenhouses. But now for the last training course we had to pipe in water. I hope there will soon be enough in the stream again.”

Caritas Nepal in partnership with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, has helped the villagers tell their stor y of living with climate change in a new 15-minute film called “ Without Rain”. The film is being used in classrooms throughout New Zealand to stress the impact on other people, far away.

“ Without Rain” was also shown at the climate change summit in Cancun, where the Caritas delegation, led by Caritas Mexico and supported by the Caritas Internationalis General Secretariat, pressed for the UN climate change process to get back on track. Caritas Mexico’s President, Bishop Gustavo Rodríguez Vega told government ministers: “Faith traditions, with their core spiritual values for the earth’s communities, can play a key role in overcoming the dominant economic model where overconsumption and greed prevail…Humankind is at present dancing on the edge of the abyss. We cannot afford another failure from the governments as in Copenhagen.”

A “Green Climate Fund” of $100 billion given each year to developing countries until 2020 was agreed and the need to cut greenhouse gases was recognised. Caritas felt that hope had been restored and a route set for the 2011 summit in Durban in South Africa.

At the other end of that continent, in Ethiopia, drought and heat are nothing new. But now 60 percent of Ethiopians live in drought- affected areas and the temperature is rising by 0.37 degrees centigrade ever y decade.

To address the lack of almost any adaptive capacity in the countr y, the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat, the national Caritas member, is seeking to develop grassroots mitigation and adaptation strategies. Caritas members from more than half a dozen countries brought their ideas to a conference called “ The Integrity of Creation” which the Secretariat held in Addis Ababa in June.