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

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

The British Red Cross, together with the Red Cross, has been supporting people and communities affected by severe weather events for decades here in the UK and abroad. When Storm Arwen hit the UK, our emergency response volunteers were on the ground helping over 3,000 affected people. With communities devastated by drought in southern Africa, we help empower people to find new ways to provide food and income for their families. And by using technology to help predict when a severe winter cold would hit Mongolia, we were able to provide cash at the right time for farmers to take care of their stock.

Getting people through emergencies is what we’ve always done, and with extreme weather events like floods, storms, heat waves and droughts on the rise due to our changing climate, our work is more vital than ever to help people communities to be more resilient.

We make sure communities are ready and help 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 with urgency change the way they live including how people earn income, grow food, build houses, or take care of 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 change.

Adapt to new ways of generating income

Since many people depend on the weather to grow and support crops and livestock, the more frequent periods and unpredictability of droughts and flash floods around the world can seriously affect their income. We help people find ways to earn income that don’t have to depend on the weather. This could be through training people in alternative work camps or giving out cash grants to buy what they need right away and then invest in new ways to make money.

Adapt to new agricultural techniques

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We’re helping to train people to use innovative farming techniques in places like Zimbabwe and Kenya so they can farm in harsh 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 agriculture to subsistence farmers that helps them grow food during drought. This helps them depend less on rain, which is unpredictable. This means they can sell products to pay for their children’s school fees, they can buy medicine for family members who get sick, or they can buy chickens or household items they might need. It empowers people in the long run, I’ve seen people really benefit from it.”

Adapt with financial education

In flood-prone places like Bangladesh, we are supporting people with financial literacy so they can strengthen their businesses. This includes information on organizing and growing savings, budgeting, opening bank accounts, and more. It means that people can better manage their money when an emergency strikes. Misti in Bangladesh has been made homeless numerous times due to cyclones. She is now a boat taxi driver and a scholarship holder from the Red Cross The Red Cross helped her buy her own boat, so she can keep more of her winnings: “I have a bank account. I’m saving money in case of an emergency. I don’t have a lot of cash on hand, but if I suddenly need it, I can take that money out of my account.”

With extreme weather events already becoming more common here in the UK and abroad, it is the homes, livelihoods and health of those affected 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 climate change, less vulnerable to risk and able to adapt to the changing world around them.

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

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