Tag Archives: environment

Fr Nacho: climate change, the environment and why it matters to your faith

About the author: Fr Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Blasco is a Jesuit priest from Valencia, Spain. He currently lives in Guatemala where he is the parish priest of Santa Maria Chiquimula. He has just finished a speaking tour of five dioceses across England and Wales, where he shared the environmental challenges faced in his parish as well as the work taking place to build a better future, with support from CAFOD.

Fr Ignacio 'Nacho' Blasco

Fr Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Blasco

Find out more about how climate change is affecting the world’s poorest.

“For me, faith is everything. Faith in Christ gives meaning to my life and it is the foundation of all that I do – whether in my personal life or in my work in Santa Maria Chiquimula.

The parish is home to some of the poorest and most marginalised in Guatemalan society. It is located in the highlands of Guatemala, about 6,600 feet high. There are plenty of mountains and forest, but the environment is suffering greatly. Deforestation is common place – where trees are cut down leaving vast, open areas of land susceptible to mud slides and a lack of water.

The situation is complicated. People need wood from the trees for cooking because we live in an area with hardly any electricity or gas. But when the trees are cut down the soil loses its roots. And when strong rains come, mud slides occur and damage the many houses built in the mountains.

The changing climate is also harming people’s way of life. It has created unpredictable, long periods of drought as well as heavy rains. These are the rains which can cause mud slides. When this happens, people loose part of their land that they can never get back. They cannot use it again to grow vegetables, corn or black beans. These are often the crops people depend on for the rest of the year and when they are gone people are left hungry and in need.

We are trying to conserve 37 communities in the region through our work supported by CAFOD. We are running a mother/child nutrition programme to help 640 children under five who suffer from malnutrition. We are teaching organic farming and encouraging people, especially women, to grow their own vegetable gardens. We want them to learn the skills they need for more environmentally friendly farming. We are also running a campaign around reforestation, using seedlings to encourage people to go and plant trees in the mountains. We try to educate people about the dangers of deforestation. I don’t think the practice will stop completely –at least not in the near future – but it’s important we find a balance between the wood we need, and keeping the forest alive.

To believe in God is to believe He is the Creator of all things. It is not a big leap to think faith is connected to the way we view and interact with the environment. God created the planet for all of us – not more for some and less for others. But the way we live right now is harming the planet God gave us. The changing climate can be linked to human behaviour, especially in richer countries which are heavily industrialised and produce a lot of greenhouse gases.

So the challenge is to think about climate change and the environment, spirituality and religion – all these things – in a more integrated way, and to try and comprehend what is being asked of us.

I’m grateful to all the CAFOD supporters who campaign on these issues and who are committed to the work being done in parishes like mine. Whether as a volunteer or supporter – thank you for all you do. And please keep doing it. It is a powerful way to change the planet and make it a house for everyone.”

Find out what changes you can make to live more harmoniously with the environment.

Read more about climate change and how it’s affecting the world’s poorest communities.

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Filed under CAFOD, Campaigning, Climate Change, Guatemala, Latin America and Carribean

Caravan of hope: Victoria Falls under threat

Victoria Falls is under threat from climate change [© Davor Lovincic/ istockphoto.com

Joseph Kabiru writes:

One of the world’s greatest wonders – Victoria Falls in Zambia – will no longer exist in 50 years unless the impacts of climate change are reversed.

This was the grim warning the Chairman of the Zambia Climate Change Network, Mr Noah Nzimba, gave when the Caravan of Hope arrived in Livingstone on the seventh stop of a 10 country drive to Durban for the climate change conference.

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Less than half an hour after this warning, we had the opportunity not just to see for ourselves this great wonder of the world, but to experience first-hand the threat posed to this great African asset by climate change.

To first-time visitors, Victoria Falls is a sight to behold; and so it was to the Caravanites who thronged the place in the misty, damp evening. What brought the warning by Mr Nzimba into proper context was a picture of the great waterfalls taken last year by one of our coach drivers.

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Filed under Africa, CAFOD, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Darfur: Bringing solar power to the people

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Communities in Darfur are finding sustainable solutions to water shortages in camps for people who have been forced to flee from their homes.

The rainy season in South Darfur typically lasts five or six months of the year. For the remainder, the land is dry, arid and desolate. With the length of the rainy season becoming increasingly unpredictable in Darfur, water has become a precious commodity.

While the climate change debate is on the collective brows of our world leaders, innovative adaptive measures are being taken in Darfur to secure sustainable water sources amidst the continuing drought.

Osman, the Project Coordinator of a Water and Sanitation Team supported by CAFOD’s partner, Caritas said, “Kubum Solar Water Project was initiated by the growing need for sustainable sources of water in the camps for people who have been displaced. This is the first successful example of an aid agency using a solar powered solution for the benefit of the camp communities”.

If there is one thing which Darfur has in abundance, it’s sunlight. Using clean technologies to derive solar energy is proving to be an efficient way of creating sustainable water supplies for communities affected by the ongoing violence in Darfur. These projects offer a community-owned solution to the resource scarcity which fuels violence between different ethnic tribes.

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Filed under CAFOD, Chad, Darfur, Sudan

Brazil: The great river clean up scandal

We’ve been working a lot with a project run by the government to improve the community since 2000 – pushing for the river to be cleaned, streets paved, a cultural centre, regeneration of the area.

 The community centre brings people together and encourages them to work together to improve things. We had a meeting to clean up the river when it flooded this year. You can see the river in the video clip, which was made to promote our work. It explains the problems we are having with the river and at the end of the clip you can see us going into the town hall to lobby the councillors.

 When it rains people lose everything – televisions, furniture…

 The council is responsible for this. They haven’t been doing their job as agreed. They have money to compensate the families, deepen the river and remove rubbish.

Money was donated by the World Bank eight years ago but little has happened since. It’s a big project to remove families living on the banks of the river. The money was agreed in 2000 but little has been done. The project was planned to be finished in 2000 and now it’s 2008 and it’s hardly started.

We’ve had meetings with the councillors to find out what’s going on. We want answers. What they have to do is not complicated but there have been constant delays.

The problem is that the people are not politicised. The community leaders are linked to political parties. The leader of the neighbourhood association is affiliated to the same party as the mayor. The town councillors are all linked to those in power, too.

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Posted by EdivaldoM

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Brazil: A successful campaign

Collecting rubbish for recycling

Collecting rubbish for recycling

Everything we do here, every little change we have made comes from unity and spirituality. This helps us a lot in our lives because if you don’t believe in God, nothing happens. It’s like living an empty life.

I really believe things will continue to change for the better. Our work will bear fruit for the future – we will get better living conditions even without action from the government.

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Filed under Brazil, CAFOD