June 30, 2010

Cambodia threatened by climate change

By |30 June 2010|

On 1 June Caritas along with the Ministry or the Environment and other agencies such as UNDP and Oxfam organised a seminar on climate change in the capital Phonm Penn. About 100 people, including environmentalist, members of government institutions, NGOs and benefactors attended the seminar aimed at discussing strategies to deal with climate change. Most people in Cambodia depend on farming for their livelihoods. 84 percent live in rural areas. Many live in high risk areas from flooding, droughts and cyclones. Kim Rattana of Caritas Cambodia said, "One of the biggest challenges we are facing in our development work is the increasing occurrence of natural disaster. What we have achieved over many years is being destroyed by storms and washed away by floods." Last year, Typhoon Ketsana destroyed hundreds of homes in Cambodia. Caritas Cambodia had to provide 30,000 people with relief items and food. Low water levels in the Mekong this year, the [...]

Heartbreaking story in the Gulf of Mexico

By |30 June 2010|

By Kathy Brown, CCUSA American Caritas member Catholic Charities agencies in Louisiana continue to reach out to those impacted by the environmental disaster still unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. In New Orleans, Catholic Charities has helped over 1,500 fishermen hit by oil spill in 5 relief centers providing food and food vouchers, baby items, counseling, and more. 6227 people (1883 families) have received emergency assistance from Catholic Charities in New Orleans alone. Other diocesan charities agencies are also reaching out all along the Gulf Coast. The oil spill is having a disastrous consequence on the livelihoods of fishermen and their families and also on tourism, a major industry on the Gulf Coast. Quoting from the Bayou Catholic, the diocesan paper of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux (May 13, 2010, Vol. 30, No 23, Houma, LA): [Rob] Gorman (Executive Director of Catholic Charities in Houma-Thibodaux) expressed the hope that, like the miracle of the loaves [...]
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    Recognizing the problem of climate change at Caritas Belgium

Recognizing the problem of climate change at Caritas Belgium

By |30 June 2010|

One cannot overemphasize the fact that the environmental challenge is the greatest global challenge humanity has ever confronted - one that concerns the very existence of the civilization and all ecosystems of the earth.

Sinking Christmas

By |26 June 2010|

Sea levels in Kiribati have averaged a rise of 3.7 millimetres a year since 1992 (Australian National Tidal centre). With sea levels rising and most of Kiribati only two meters high, the end is in sight for the 98,000 residents.

Climate change: Seeking climate justice

By |23 June 2010|

The harsh effects of climate change are already becoming a daily reality for poor communities inmany countries where Caritas works. Unpredictable or extreme weather is undermining the humanitarian and development work of Caritas and threatens to increase the number of emergencies in the future. Calling for a new global ethic The answer to the climate change crisis lies in the hands of humanity – in a revived sense of solidarity and a realisation that we all have a duty to work towards the common good. Caritas published ‘Climate Justice: Seeking a global ethic’ – a synthesis of the ethical, moral and theological dimensions of the crisis, an analysis of its impact on the poor and an overview of Caritas programming and advocacy on climate change. Caritas argued that victory over climate change would only come at a price, and the lion’s share of that price should rightly be paid by those countries who [...]

A year in campaigning

By |23 June 2010|

The year 2009 was a year of intense activity on climate change in the run-up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Copenhagen in December. Hopes were high for a binding deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase financial and technological aid for poor countries. Caritas Internationalis joined its Catholic sister network CIDSE in the “Grow Climate Justice” campaign. Supporters were asked to send postcards to their governments and sign an online petition calling for a just deal for the poor. There were a series of important meetings throughout 2009 leading up to Copenhagen. Caritas representatives attended UN talks in Bonn, NewYork, Bangkok and Barcelona to persuade governments to agree a just deal. At UN talks in Bonn, a report on the importance of low-tech climate change adaptation measures was launched. At the same time, a Caritas meeting in Malawi was discussing how best to prepare [...]

Prayers and petitions at Copenhagen

By |23 June 2010|

The Copenhagen Summit on climate change brought together 119 heads of state and governments. Caritas representatives and bishops came from 25 countries, including Mexico, Zambia, South Africa, USA, India, Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean, Mozambique, Kenya, the UK, Spain, Ireland and Germany.

Green housing in the USA

By |23 June 2010|

The Foundation for Senior Living (FSL) has served the needs of vulnerable seniors and adults with disabilities in Phoenix, Arizona for over 30 years. A member of Catholic Charities USA (part of Caritas Internationalis), FSL builds homes that prioritise safety, comfort, low cost maintainability and gentle impact on the environment. It aims to reduce landfill waste by 60 percent through the use of clean building materials. It uses local materials and achieves high energy ratings. Conservation savings help FSL pay for energy and water for their tenants. Income from the housing projects helps subsidise other social programmes that are under-supported by traditional funding sources. “Not only is building green good environmental policy, but it tangibly improves the quality of life for our low-income residents,” said Steve Hastings, FSL’s Director of Real Estate.

A desert garden in Chad

By |23 June 2010|

Granite hills mark the horizon. The ground is carpeted with rocks. Apart from the dried up river beds (ouaddis) there is nowhere for vegetation to grow. Thorny shrubs are the only desert plant life. Nature is hostile in Eastern Chad. “Annual rainfall normally varies from 300 to 500 mm,” said Adoumadji, an agricultural technician working for SECADEV (Caritas Chad). “Less than 300 mm of rain fell last season. Crops dried up before they could yield anything.” Yassine Ibrahim harvested less than four sacks of millet this season, compared to previous years when he produced 23 sacks. “The little harvest I have got is finished and I am obliged to sell my cattle to feed my family,”he said. Extra demand means prices for cereals have risen so high they are unaffordable for most people. SECADEV supports community granaries in twenty villages. Residents share the food when prices are peaking, then top up the [...]

Climate change and the risk of conflict in the Middle East

By |23 June 2010|

Climate models predict that the five countries in the Eastern Mediterranean (Western Asia)– Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) – will face a hotter, drier and less predictable climate in the coming decades. Temperatures are expected to warm by 2.5 to 3.7oC in the region’s summer months; these higher temperatures will in turn change where rain falls, how much of it falls and how often it falls. By redrawing maps of water availability, where food can be grown, and where people can live, climate change could exacerbate existing problems in the region, and may in turn hold serious implications for regional security. The region is already one of the world’s driest. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Jordan, Israel and the oPt all fall well below the internationally-set thresholds for water scarcity of 1000 cubic metres per person per year. The Eastern Mediterranean as a whole [...]

May 26, 2010

Time for climate justice at Copenhagen

By |26 May 2010|

Caritas members from around the world are travelling to Copenhagen to lobby governments at a key climate change meeting. The UN summit (called the UNFCCC) is set to agree targets for cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It will also set funding for poor communities to tackle the impact of extreme or unpredictable weather and also for their future low carbon/sustainable development. Events Caritas is taking part in the meeting itself and at a number of events in the city aimed at getting a fairer deal for the poor. 19.00 Friday 11 December - all invited to ‘Holy Mass for Climate Justice’ at Sankt Ansgar Cathedral presided over by Caritas Africa President Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Kampala (Read his homily). Further information available at www.sanktansgar.dk. 13.00 Saturday 12 December - Caritas representatives will take part in the Planet First, People First walk through Copenhagen. 11.30 Sunday 13 December – Caritas representatives will handover pledges from supporters along [...]

Bringing Solar Power to the People of Darfur

By |26 May 2010|

As climate change is heatedly debated by world leaders, communities in Darfur are finding sustainable solutions to water shortages in Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) Camps. The rainy season in South Darfur typically lasts five or six months of the year. For the remainder, the land is dry, arid and desolate. With the length of the rainy season becoming increasingly unpredictable in Darfur, water has become a precious commodity. While the climate change debate is on the collective brows of our world leaders, innovative adaptive measures are being taken in Darfur to secure sustainable water sources amidst the continuing drought. Osman, the Project Coordinator of a Caritas supported Water and Sanitation Team (WATSAN) said, “Kubum Solar Water Project was initiated by the growing need for sustainable sources of water for IDP Communities in Darfur. This is the first successful example of an aid agency using a solar powered solution for the benefit [...]

Pakistan youth group speaks out

By |26 May 2010|

Protecting the planet for future generations requires self-sacrifices for the good of others. Our obligations to the human family stretch across generations. We are borrowing the earth’s natural resources from our children. These are lessons being spread by 14 youths who have come together to form the Asia Pacific Youth Network on Climate Change (AYCC-Pakistan), a group dedicated to protecting the environment for future generations. Two weeks after the signing of the Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change on the 1st of October 2009, these energetic volunteers came together to raise awareness of the global effects of climate change. With co-operation and recommendations from Caritas Pakistan and implemented successfully by the youth wing of AWARD (Association of Women's Awareness and Rural development), AYCC-Pakistan is determined to raise awareness on all levels of society. Their basic approach is to call upon social change in an effort to encourage people to live more simply. The [...]

Coping with drought in India

By |26 May 2010|

Bara is a village situated in the drought-prone area in Jharkhand State in eastern India. Difficult climate conditions and complete dependency on rain means that farmers only produce one crop per year. The agricultural yield was extremely low. Since the villagers had few opportunities for other types of employment in the area, they migrated to cities in search of work. But a few years ago the situation began to improve. In 2005, a local villager named Samaj Vikas Sanstha started a drought preparedness programme in Bara Village with support from Caritas India. A village development committee consisting of 9 men and 3 women was formed to take up the task of awareness raising within the community on the need to conserve precious natural resources, such as water. As a result, the community is more conscious about the changing climate and better prepared to face the adverse situations that may come. Indeed, [...]

The state of play in the USA on climate justice

By |26 May 2010|

By guest writer Walter E. Grazer, Special Adviser for National Religious Partnership for the Environment US politics surrounding climate change remains contentious and uncertain. While the US House of Representatives passed climate legislation in the summer of 2009, all eyes are now on the US Senate that is in a state of virtual political paralysis. Democrats and Republicans are unable to find common ground thus far on any major issue, whether it is health care overhaul, finance reform, immigration or climate change. Impending fall elections for Congress only adds to the pressure to act on climate change within the next few weeks or months. While the politics of climate change is complicated, 2010 is the best time for action rather than handing this off to a new Congress in 2011. Action is less likely in 2011 given the potential new make-up of a Congress that many fear is likely to be [...]

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