How is the British Red Cross helping people face the impact of the changing climate?

As we share information on extreme events this month, the British Red Cross share in this guest post how they, and the wider Red Cross movement, are supporting people and communities around the globe to adapt to our changing climate.

The British Red Cross, alongside the Red Cross, have been supporting people and communities impacted by severe weather events for decades right here in the UK and overseas. When Storm Arwen hit the UK our emergency response volunteers were on the ground to support over 3,000 people affected. With drought devastating communities across Southern Africa, we helped train people to source new ways of providing food and income for their families. And using technology to help predict when a harsh winter cold was arriving in Mongolia we were able to provide cash at the right time for farmers to care for their stock.

Getting people through emergencies is what we have always done and, as extreme weather events, like floods, storms, heatwaves, and droughts, increase due to our changing climate, our work is more vital than ever to help communities to become more resilient.

We’re making sure communities are ready and we’re helping them stay safe and adapt to the changing world around them and the impact of climate change. When we talk about ‘adaptation’ it means helping people urgently change the way they live including, the way people earn an income, grow food, build homes or look after their finances. Our teams do this by supporting people with new tools, skills and training so they can build resilience, focusing on locally-led adaptation where possible to empower communities to lead the change.

Adapting with new ways of earning an income

With many people relying on the weather to grow and sustain crops and livestock, the more frequent periods and unpredictability of drought and flash flooding across the world, can seriously affect their income. We help people find ways to earn an income where they don’t have to rely on the weather. This might be through training people up in alternative fields of work or giving cash grants to buy what they need immediately and then invest in new ways to earn money.

Adapting with new farming techniques

Image credit: Shutterstock

We are helping train people to use innovative farming techniques in places like Zimbabwe and Kenya so they can grow crops in difficult weather conditions to feed their families or sell. Like in Zimbabwe, where Musa, a Red Cross volunteer, has been busy teaching climate-smart farming skills to rural communities: “We teach climate-smart farming to subsistence farmers which supports them to grow food during drought. This help them to become less reliant on the rain, which is unpredictable. This means they can sell produce to pay for school fees for their children, they can buy medicine for family members who get sick or buy chickens or household items they might need. It empowers people in the long term, I’ve seen that people are really benefiting.”

Adapting with financial training

In flood-prone places like Bangladesh, we’re supporting people with financial training, so they can strengthen their businesses. This includes information about how to organise and grow savings, to budget, to set up bank accounts and more. It means people can manage their money better when an emergency happens. Misti in Bangladesh has been made homeless numerous times by cyclones. She is now a boat taxi driver and a grant from the Red Cross Red Cross helped her to buy her own boat, so she can keep more of her earnings: “I have a bank account. I’m saving money in case of an emergency. I don’t have much cash in my hand but if I suddenly needed it, I can get that money from my account.”

With extreme weather events already becoming more common here in the UK and overseas, it is the homes, livelihoods and health of the people impacted that are at risk. At the British Red Cross we are working tirelessly to support and promote early action to help communities become more resilient to the changing climate, so they are less vulnerable to risk and can adapt to the changing world around them.

You can see more of what we have shared on extreme events by following the #GetClimateReady hashtag on Twitter.

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