Partners for Change: Mercy Corps on the Frontlines of Climate Change

Article published at: Dec 4, 2019
Partners for Change: Mercy Corps on the Frontlines of Climate Change
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Our long-time Partner for Change, Mercy Corps, is collaborating with the world’s most innovative organizations and communities around the world to reshape how humanity can adapt and thrive in the face of climate change. The impacts of climate change affect every country, causing unprecedented challenges for millions of people already burdened by poverty and oppression.

The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires, and droughts threaten the world's food supply, drive people from their homes, separate families and jeopardize livelihoods. For those on the frontlines of the climate crisis, the struggle to earn a living, feed their families and create safe and stable homes is made more difficult every day.

Farmer Mya Nwel, 57, waters her chili plants in Myanmar. Mercy Corps is providing technology to help her save water and fertilizer, as well as higher quality seeds. "Now our income has increased, and our harvests and crop quality has improved," she says. PHOTO: Mercy Corps/Ezra Millstei.

The climate crisis discriminates, but the efforts to fight it cannot. And though the work to protect the global environment is essential, so are efforts to protect people around the world. 

That’s why, in places as diverse as Puerto Rico, Ethiopia, Mongolia, and Indonesia, Mercy Corps is helping people adapt to climate change. Mercy Corps does this work by considering the challenges each community is facing and then developing localized solutions that will make the biggest impact. Mercy Corps’ climate resilience work tackles the impacts of climate change — particularly disappearing livelihoods, rising food insecurity, increasing disaster and escalating violence. 

Sarita, 54, works in her village’s sugarcane field in rural Nepal. Her indigenous community has repeatedly been displaced by flooding from the nearby river, but Mercy Corps helped them plant sugarcane along the river bank, which holds back floodwaters and doubles as a source of income. Since the sugarcane was planted, the community has reclaimed 40 hectares of land. PHOTO: Ezra Millstein/Mercy Corps.

Here are three ways Mercy Corps is helping communities to adapt, innovate and thrive:

  1. Adaptation. Helping farmers diversify their crops and redesign their farmland to maximize their productivity and protect the soil in the face of increasingly severe and frequent droughts. They also train herders on how to keep their animals healthy in drier conditions. They connect farmers and herders with new technologies they can access with their mobile phones. These technologies provide weather updates, crop prices, and resources they can explore around preventing diseases and increasing yields.
  2. Resilience. Helping communities rebound from disasters while strengthening them to be more resilient to the next ones. They do that by investing in and initiating disaster mitigation tactics. These tactics help people better prepare for disasters to come. In Puerto Rico, they’ve developed Resilience Hubs, taking existing community centers and providing them with solar power and disaster response kits, facilitating search-and-rescue training and developing community action plans, so community members know what to do to stay safe in the event of an emergency. In Nepal, they’ve reinforced river embankments to slow the effects of flooding.
  3. Governance. With the climate crisis causing natural resources to vanish, competition for remaining resources is on the rise. To resolve conflict and stop violence before it starts, they help communities and their governments build for the future where people protect and share natural resources. In Uganda, Mercy Corps is facilitating resource-sharing agreements and promoting cooperation between communities to reduce conflict, providing a space for people living there to pursue new types of work such as cooking, cleaning or construction.

“Climate change increases the risk of conflict. It degrades land and leads to competition over precious natural resources. Over time, conflict can displace entire communities and lead to life-threatening hunger. But we can prevent it if we proactively focus on these environmental risks and bring communities together to find solutions.”— Jenny Vaughan, Mercy Corps Director of Peace and Conflict

Nau supports Mercy Corps, and their work helping communities adapt to climate change, with an annual donation. If you would also like to support Mercy Corps this holiday season, you can make a donation on their website here.


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