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Human Rights and Climate Change – Impacts on Livelihoods

The GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE → SEP. 20–27 2019, marked a global concern of women, girls, men, boys and youths about the impacts of climate change as a human rights issue. Over 7.6 Million people globally joined hands and raised their voices in defence of the climate. This global strike showed us the need to work together because we need to create a safe and just world.  The world is already experiencing impacts from climate change and we believe that this starts with our very close communities because when you keenly look around us, we are experiencing global warming, including deadly heat waves, extreme weather events, changes in seasonal calendars, draught, floods and threats to life on earth.

 In the context of Lango Sub-region, Farmers are happy with the second season of this year when finally receiving decent amounts of rain that sparks hope for a good harvest. Many have however also endured hardship within the last years through longer periods of draught or the unpredictability of the rainfall that arrived too late which have greatly contributed to draughts 

Learning from these experiences, what does Climate Change mean to people in Lango? How does it affect them and how can farmers adapt to this new challenge? Through deeper research into this issue and a new line of action, Foundation for Integrated Rural Development is aiming to support farmers to become more resilient against climatic changes in the years to come.

It is essential to receive an understanding about Climate Change that contains the environmental science of its causes and effects on a global scale as well as the everyday sufferings that it might impose in any of our communities in Lango and the world over. For many the term of Climate Change is well known by now but it is still necessary to ask questions like: What exactly does it mean? How does it affect me and my community? How might I influence Climate Change? And what can I do to prepare myself? 

Often Climate Change is confused with the changes of the weather when switching from a period of draught towards the rainy season or the opposite. But weather is not the same as climate and Climate Change must be viewed within the changing patterns of temperature and rainfall over a longer period of years. We can hereby for example witness a constant raise in aridity in Northern Uganda over the last 20 years that can be linked back to a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere produced by human action.

This implies, we are not only facing an environmental problem, we are also facing a social problem. Human behaviour is strongly embedded into its surrounding nature and our actions affect the environment as much the environment is affecting our action. What does this mean? 

For one part that even how small we might seem compared to the huge widths of the world’s ecosystems, it is each one of our actions that is influencing their health. If I decide to cut down a tree to produce charcoal to burn for cooking or heating, it might only have the immediate consequence that I lose a nice place with shade and risk the health of the soil that the tree would have conserved, but consider that it also contributes to a higher amount of CO2 in the atmosphere which in return increases the problems of draught and water scarcity for everyone in the region. FIRD is trying to mitigate this effect with its energy saving project that aims to reduce the widespread use of charcoal.

On the other hand, it means that our own social life is influenced by the climate in ways that we might not have thought about. The quite obvious connection that can be drawn by Climate Change leading to longer draughts or changes in the rain pattern is that farmers either cannot grow crops at all or have lost substantial amounts of their crops by either planting too early or too late, thus facing problems of food insecurities. But consider to what these food insecurities can lead. We can witness in communities that as farmers cannot generate any income due to poor harvests, the schools must close often for several terms as the community cannot pay the teachers, leaving our next generation with a lack of education, having hungry children in schools , Also, some give up their farms as they are not able to feed of their lands anymore and migrate to towns or more fruitful places, thereby contributing to further tension in already difficult land conflicts within the areas they go to. And even within families the induced poverty due to insufficient crop production has often lead to cases of gender based violence, families splitting up in divorce or the selling of a daughter into child marriage.

These are just few of many examples into which the effects of Climate Change can lead to or at least play a role within. It is important to identify these connections to be able to address them. This is what FIRD intends to do while promoting stronger social connection within communities and draught resilient farming methods to prepare the communities to be more adaptable and resistant towards the hardships induced by Climate Change.

Climate change therefore, requires a global rights-based response, so let’s join hands and take action to address all climate change-related actions to respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights standards.




Compiled by Niklas Sax and Harriet Adong