Women as agents of climate change action

Arguably the biggest problem facing humanity—climate change—may have a surprising solution: legally recognize and enforce the land rights of rural women in customary tenure systems.

We already know that strong land rights for women reduce poverty and increase economic empowerment and personal agency. A growing body of research also suggests that when women have secure tenure rights, climate change resiliency increases for women and their communities. Women commonly rely on community lands that [collectively] hold at least 24% of the aboveground carbon found in the world’s tropical forests—a sum equivalent to almost four times the global greenhouse gas emissions of 2014.  This initial research suggests a dual approach: treating women—those hardest hit by climate change—as agents of prevention, while prioritizing women’s participation in adaptation measures.

At least 2.5 billion people derive their livelihoods from rural land-use economies, and communities hold and manage over half of the world’s land area through customary tenure systems in which land is held at the community level.  Those living under individualized and community-based customary systems are likely to be among the majority of those living in poverty worldwide. They are especially dependent on rural land for their livelihoods, yet they often lack legally recognized land rights under national laws. This holds especially true for people in the lowest income countries, and those experiencing the most extreme forms of poverty due to intersecting discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, class, or caste.

These same populations are among those most affected by climate change. According to recent research, 52% of agricultural land worldwide is affected by climate-changed induced drought, just one example of a climate change-induced “slow-onset” disasters. Land degradation, another example, is estimated to affect 1.5 billion people.

Securing rural women’s rights to land may be key to the survival of our species.

[Landesa]

Partnering for the health of people and planet

Climate change has far-reaching impacts on human health and well-being. Changing temperature and rainfall patterns impact crop yield, food and water security, and nutrition. The increased frequency and intensity of extreme events can cause not only injury, but also increase the risk of water-borne diseases (diarrheal disease, Hepatitis A and E, bacterial diseases such as cholera), diseases associated with crowding (measles, meningitis, acute respiratory infections) and vector-borne diseases (malaria, dengue), as well as psychological and emotional distress related to traumatic events.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year between 2030 and 2050, just considering risks from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

Health impacts from climate change are exacerbated in countries where health systems already struggle to manage existing health risks, and capacity to adapt to additional climate change-related health risks is limited.

Only through critical partnerships between governments, civil society, UN agencies, and global environment and health organizations, support can be provided to countries in responding to the health impacts of climate variability and change by working at the nexus of health, environmental sustainability and climate change, disaster risk reduction, gender equality, and poverty alleviation.

[UNDP]

Outcome of the abduction of 4 British missionaries in Nigeria

The British government says one UK missionary who was kidnapped in Nigeria last month has been killed but three others have been freed.

The Foreign Office said on Monday that Alanna Carson, David Donovan and Shirley Donovan have returned to their families, but Ian Squire “was tragically killed.”

The four were abducted in the Niger Delta region on October 13.

The missionaries had been operating a series of clinics in Nigeria for the past 14 years, despite the high risk across Delta State from kidnappers, armed robbers and pirates.

Friends of Ian Squire branded his captors “despicable” as they paid tribute to the optician who had set up his own charity to save people’s sight in Africa. The 57-year-old ran his own opticians in Shepperton, Surrey, and had been founder and chairman of the Christian charity Mission for Vision since 2003. He founded the charity to provide training and eye equipment for clinics in countries including Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique.

Monica Chard, a friend, said: “He was a lovely, quiet man who everyone knew and loved as the village optician. “He went out to Africa every year with the charity and his wife was also involved. He just wanted to help people see who otherwise would not have had any help.”

According to his website, Mr Squire had made 13 trips for the charity since 2003, accompanied by other opticians and volunteers, and in 2013 had joined forces with the Donovans on his first visit to Nigeria. Mr Donovan, a GP from Cambridge, and his wife, both aged 57, run their own Christian health charity called New Foundations, with a string of remote clinics in the Delta region.

[AP/The Telegraph]

At least 19 dead as typhoon sweeps into Vietnam

Typhoon Damrey killed at least 19 people in central and southern Vietnam on Saturday, the government said, after the storm swept into the country just days ahead of the APEC summit of Asia-Pacific leaders.

Damrey reached land at 4 a.m. local time with winds gusting at up to 90 kmph (56 mph) that tore off more than 1,000 roofs, knocked down hundreds of electricity poles and uprooted trees. At least 12 people were missing and over 370 houses had collapsed, the Communist state’s search and rescue committee said. Over 33,000 people had been evacuated.

The government earlier said six ships had capsized with 61 people on board in the South China Sea and that 25 people had been rescued, but gave no details as to the possible fate of the others.

The government said more than 40,000 hectares of crops had been damaged, including sugar cane, rice fields and rubber plantations. More than 40 flights were cancelled.

The storm made landfall around 500 km (310 miles) south of the coastal city of Danang, where the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit is taking place next week. There were reports of high winds and rain in Danang, but no immediate reports of casualties. The city will host U.S. President Donald Trump from Nov. 10 as well as China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and counterparts from other APEC members.

 [Reuters]

Why Humanitarian Aid Matters

From an interview with Gregory Gottlieb, former acting assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance:

President Donald Trump has made it clear that foreign aid is not a top priority for his administration. His 2018 budget proposal includes steep cuts to the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the United Nations. That policy change could have lasting impact on humanitarian efforts worldwide.

The United States has really helped to build the international system of humanitarian relief. We have been the biggest giver, the donor of last resort in many respects. And if you want to change that, you don’t do it by saying we’re going to cut our budget by 40 percent overnight. That is just going to damage the system. Right now, we—all donors—meet only about 62 percent of what we think humanitarian needs are. You can’t just cut our budget and hope that other nations step in to make up the difference.

“Soft power” like humanitarian aid can be very beneficial and serve as a tool for political advantages. After the tsunami in Asia in 2004, the fact that we supplied humanitarian assistance allowed our military to collaborate with Indonesia’s military. That kind of broke the ice and improved relations between our countries. If you looked at how people there viewed the United States, our ratings went way up. The same in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake—the military did a fantastic job of delivering things, despite what was going on in Afghanistan. Some of the people who did that work are still incredibly well thought of. In South Sudan, our humanitarian assistance opened up a better dialogue between Sudan and South Sudan as they were forced to negotiate about how to move food across the lines.

[Tufts University]

Widespread natural disasters threaten development goals

This year in the Caribbean, as well as on the American mainland, hurricanes have left millions of people in need of assistance. In Puerto Rico, 3.4 million people have been scrambling for basic necessities, including food and water. Barbuda was rendered uninhabitable and Dominica was hit hard for the second year in a row.

Floods in Bangladesh, India and Nepal have affected some 40 million people. Twenty countries have also declared drought emergencies in the past 18 months, with major displacement taking place across the Horn of Africa.

In light of such impacts, and the growing influence of climate change which is increasingly exacerbating them, one conclusion is clear: sustainable development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will remain elusive or significantly delayed so long as hazards are left unchecked.

As outlined in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, we need to shift from managing disasters to preventing disasters by better managing existing risks. This means tackling risk drivers such as poverty, rapid urbanization, weak governance, the decline of ecosystems, desertification and climate change. These are all driving up disaster risk around the world.

[Inter Press Service]

Migrant situation in Libya and the Mediterranean area

Since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi, chaos-hit Libya has become a key point of departure for migrants heading to Europe.

A navy official said Wednesday thatLibya’s coastguard  rescued nearly 300 migrants including dozens of women and children from unseaworthy boats as they tried to reach Europe. The migrants, of different African nationalities, were plucked from two rubber dinghies without engines and brought back to the Tripoli naval base. They were given food and medical attention before being transferred to a detention center, the official added.

The UN refugee agency said more than 20,000 migrants, including pregnant women and babies, were being held either in detention centers or by traffickers, warning of abuse “on a shocking scale”.

Nearly 150,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, according to the United Nations, and at least 2,826 others have died making the journey.

Hailing mainly from sub-Saharan countries, most migrants board boats operated by people traffickers in western Libya, and make for the Italian island of Lampedusa 300km away. But migrant arrivals in Italy have dropped 69% since July, the European country said this week, as a deal with Libya blocks boats and would-be asylum seekers use other routes into Europe.

While the number landing in Italy is down by 30% compared with last year, arrivals in Spain, meanwhile, have more than tripled, with over 14 000 arrivals this year.

[AFP]