In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report describing the global landscape in 2040. The authors predicted severe food shortages, devastating wildfires and the dying off of coral reefs en masse. The report warns that, by 2040, global temperatures are expected to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, meaning that most people alive today will see the dramatic effects of climate change within their lifetime. Many of the world’s most vulnerable populations are already experiencing the effects of climate change, from natural disasters like mudslides or desertification, to food insecurity and migration.
What if we could help the most vulnerable mitigate the risks associated with climate change and prepare now for disaster by becoming resilience and responsive? What if we could reduce vulnerabilities by supporting self-sufficiency, renewable energy and sustainable development?
At ACTED, we know that natural disasters will happen and that the effects of climate change are already being felt by vulnerable populations worldwide. These effects not only reinforce poverty, but also hamper development. That is why we are acting today and investing in tomorrow through programming that seeks to reduce the economic and social vulnerabilities that leave populations vulnerable to the shocks of climate change. ACTED works with at-risk communities to prevent the negative impacts of climate change, mitigate the effects of natural disasters and increase resilience through adaptation and coping mechanisms.
ACTED’S CLIMATE RESILIENCE STRATEGY
Climate change has caused natural disasters to increase in frequency and intensity, a humanitarian response requires intervention at different levels. In our countries of operation, ACTED supports communities in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster by providing basic services and recovery activities to enable affected populations to rebuild their lives and return to normalcy. However, intervening ahead of disaster is key in mitigating their impact. We work with communities to increase preparation to cope with disasters and with local leaders and first responders on disaster risk management, giving them the tools and training they need to prepare for shocks and build resilience.
Climate resilience is the capacity of an individual, household, population group or system to absorb, adapt and transform from shocks and stresses without compromising long-term prospects. Resilience efforts serve to mitigate structural destruction and prevent unnecessary loss of life. We reinforce resilience by reducing vulnerabilities in communities through access to information, healthcare, income, education and more. We improve the capacity of crisis-affected communities to respond to ecosystem-based disasters by developing early warning systems and coordinating communication between first responders and authorities.
Over 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas where hunger and malnutrition are persistent threats. Shocks related to climate change —like drought, floods or mudslides—increase the pressure on farmers to produce enough to sustain their families and communities. Climate-smart agriculture is a sustainable approach to agricultural development. It allows food systems to adapt to climate change while still meeting the food security and productivity needs of the community. ACTED works with local communities to train farmers, plant permagardens and develop localized techniques to build resilience into the food system.
As part of our commitment to zero carbon emissions, ACTED invests in clean, sustainable energy. In particular, ACTED is engaged in the provision of solar energy systems to vulnerable communities from Syria to Somalia. In addition to addressing the energy needs of these communities in a sustainable way, our solarization programs serve to reduce socio-economic inequality. ACTED trains locals in solar panel installation and maintenance, empowering trainees to find gainful employment while supporting their own communities.
INVESTING IN TOMORROW
Natural disasters know no borders. Numerous border checkpoints cannot stop the calamitous mudflows and landslides facing the border region between Northern Tajikistan and Southern Kyrgyzstan: When disasters occur, local populations must act as first responders. Through a transboundary project on disaster risk reduction funded by the European Commission, ACTED has been working with communities on both sides of the border to reinforce their capacity to prevent disaster, reduce the impact of disasters and recover from losses. Rescuers receive practical training on how to better protect disaster-prone populations and provide timely relief assistance after disasters. ACTED also provides search and rescue devices to allow first responders to conduct efficient emergency operations in the aftermath of natural disasters such as landslides, mudflows or floods.
Disaster risk reduction is an integral part of ACTED’s programmatic strategy. It is about implementing programs before, during and after a disaster in order to reduce the impact and losses incurred by the disaster. Prevention and mitigation activities reduce the vulnerability of populations to natural hazards by investing in simple measures to reduce the underlying risk factors. The direct involvement of populations in reconstruction and rehabilitation is a guarantee of sustainable disaster risk reduction.
Decades of conflict have displaced thousands of people in South Sudan and reduced their capacity to cope with the prolonged dry spells and unpredictable rainfall patterns that impact the country, leaving 4.8 million people facing food shortages. ACTED teams are mobilised to tackle food insecurity by building the resilience of flood and drought-prone communities in South Sudan. Together with partners in the BRACED consortium, ACTED is building the capacity and skills of agro-pastoralist communities to implement climate-smart practices. ACTED works to teach communities how to diversify their livelihoods and anticipate, absorb and adapt to shocks and stresses. The ultimate purpose of these activities is to enable communities to identify hazards, mitigate risks and establish disaster information sharing to improve their own coping strategies.
ACTED is expanding its efforts in the area of sustainable drinking water supply through solarization in conflict-affected Syria. While all eyes are turned to the emergency response, ACTED is investing in a better future through the development of cleaner, more self-sufficient and more sustainable energy sources for recovering communities.
Solarizing WASH infrastructure in conflict-affected areas is not a simple task, but by liaising with water authorities and deploying technical expertise in the field, ACTED engineers have designed an efficient and appropriate system for pumping water. In order to guarantee the sustainability of the intervention, local water authorities have been trained on maintaining solarized boreholes. ACTED will continue rehabilitating and solarizing water supply infrastructure to improve its potential as a key water provider and to reach even more communities in need of drinking water.