The “climate diaries” of natural disasters – iO Donna
D.natural asters. There is María Candelaria, a Guatemalan from the village of Huehuetenango, who tells of the river that “entered the house” at three in the morning, leaving her only time to rescue the children. And then Fama Sylla, a young Senegalese mother from Saint-Louis, who remembers of how the sea took its villageforcing her into a settlement without water or electricity.
There is Kuy Rin, a Cambodian grandmother from the village of Sung 2, who raises grandchildren instead of children who have emigrated to Thailand in search of fish. There is the captain of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior which preserves messages in a bottle with the stories of Filipino fishermen from Tacloban, hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Women who tell.
The changing climate changes everyone’s life
Their stories of seas, rivers, streams overflowing or drying up help us understand better than any scientific account such as the climate change is changing the lives of all of ustogether with that of the planet. WeWorld, an organization for fifty years committed to guaranteeing the rights of women and children in 25 countries, has collected them. Between Guatemala, Senegal, Cambodia with the countryside #ClimateOfChange co-financed by the European Commission and made available online.
The “climate diaries” of natural disasters
“When we hear about climate change we often think of something that will happen in the future, perhaps in places far away from us. With these stories, which we have renamed “Climate diaries” we tried to give a voice to people who have suffered the effects of floods on their skindrought, tsunami, coastal erosion »explains Margherita Romanelli, coordinator of WeWorld’s European programs.
Elena Giacomelli, researcher of the Sociology Department of the University of Bologna (scientific partner of WeWord) illustrates the method, very simple and within reach of a mobile phone. «With other colleagues we have been to Senegal and Guatemala. While in Cambodia we conducted the interviews through local mediators. We asked the inhabitants of the most affected areas simple questions through Whatsapp. – also very popular in those areas – Also asking for photos of houses, beaches, villages flooded or destroyed by storm surges. The result was warm and effective diaries, very useful for integrating scientific data ».
Houses overwhelmed by storms
Some examples starting from Senegal, in the coastal area of Saint-Louis and Dakar, where scholars report a massive erosion of the coasts due to the felling of coconut trees and cacti in favor of urbanization, the accumulation of waste and plastics on the beaches, and the occupation of the ocean by the fishing multinationals, which here use the trawling method. Mamadou Khary Seck, who lived with his family on the coast near Dakar, recalls: “A storm destroyed our homes and the state moved us to the Khar Yalla camp, without electricity or water: there is only one fountain for hundreds of people, there is no hospital. It has been like this for three years, but we had no choice ».
Natural disasters from Senegal to Guatemala
Maguette Diop, a young rapper from Dakar, shows the “before and after” of the Djidah iaroye Kao pond, where the houses were engulfed by storms, and the former tourist bay of Hann, eroded and covered with waste. Let’s move with WeWorld to Guatemala. “It is one of the ten nations in the world most vulnerable to climate change due to the deforestation caused by the monocultures of sugar cane and palm oil, and due to the violence of rainfall alternating with drought»Says Sarah Walker, researcher in the Department of History, Culture and Civilization at the University of Bologna.
“Here we have collected the diaries of four hundred families in the province of Totonicapán, where life has definitely deteriorated, especially for women, who often travel miles to get water.” Among the many, that of Criotilda Ramos Santos: «When the storm came we had been in this house for not even a month. I cried bitterly when I saw it collapse, the ground turned into a lagoon. How could my animals stay there? Crops have been lost, especially potatoes. My son has gone to the United States. Only God knows what will happen next winter ».
Changing climate: water scarcity
Also in Cambodiaanother highly vulnerable country between illegal logging of alluvial forests, construction of hydroelectric dams, drought alternating with exceptional rainfall, the researchers collected numerous testimonies. The chosen area, the province of Battambang about 300 km from the capital Phnom Penh, in the north-west: there in 75 percent of cases it is the grandmothers who raise the grandchildren, while the parents migrate to neighboring Thailand.
The elderly and children are the “left behind” – left behind -, but young people are not better off: “We grow rice, we depend on the sky and the rain … For some years we have migrated to look for food and an income, but sometimes we only have a small amount to send home, ”confirmed Voeun Sokcheat, a 24-year-old from the village of Ta Pon.
“Before, my family could fish in the flooded fields. Now in July and August there is no more water ”adds Reth Chanthoeun, 38, from the village of Bak Roteh.
The importance of prevention
Another diary that says a lot about the climate impact on ordinary people is that of an environmental captain, Hettie Geen, commander of the Greenpeace’s Raimbow Warrior ship, built with green technology. “Our crew members are of fifteen different nationalities, and each has something to tell about climate change: there is the sailor from Fiji who is afraid to see disappear its archipelago due to the raising of the ocean; the Australian from Queensland, worried about i storms and rivers of mud that a few weeks ago they wiped out some houses near his. All of us have witnessed the tragedy of the Haiyan victims in the Philippines: their stories, inserted in bottles in a sort of “lifebrary” (library of lives), have traveled around the world with us, so that no one would be forgotten ».
Natural disasters, the sea suffers
Giorgia Monti, coordinator of the Greenpeace Italy warm sea projectshares his notes collected in over fifteen years of campaigns: “I proposed to launch Mare Caldo, a network to monitor the warming of the Mediterranean, after a dive in Tavolara where I had been missing for years. The famous gorgonians of the Secca del Papa that I remembered as a young girl were gray due to the increase in temperatures. Same thing in Ischiawhere as a child, snorkeling with dad I met octopuses, seahorses, colorful cliffs full of life. Everywhere our sea suffers from the impact of human activities and global warming. But the good news is that the marine protected areas of the Mediterranean are still full of coral and fish of different species. It is never too late to start protecting him again ».
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