When most people think about climate change, they think about extreme weather patterns, global warming and rising sea levels. Many people are aware that there are also numerous ways in which climate change negatively effects people’s health, including the resurgence of many vector and water borne diseases, malnutrition and respiratory diseases. But there is another subset of climate related health effects which, while perhaps less well-known, is also extremely prevalent and destructive: the impacts of climate change on mental health.
When Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti one year ago today, it destroyed crops and houses and killed as many as 1600 people throughout the Caribbean island nation. Yet for survivors in communities where the ACT Alliance partners with local groups to support reconstruction, the anguish of the storm is slowing giving way to a more resilient future.
Nutrition specialist and long-time CWS colleague, Julia Suryantan, visited the CWS team in Myanmar recently to help review progress to date, and advise on improvements for best practice implementation, for nutrition activities in 15 Maubin Township villages in the Ayeyarwaddy region in the country’s Southwest.
“Our district [in the north of South Sulawesi island] is often hit by natural disasters like floods, landslides and drought. In the past, there were no resources from the district government or anybody else to deal with disasters, so we worked together as volunteers in our community when a disaster struck. In the past, we didn’t know anything about disaster risk reduction or preparedness,” remembers Oky Juser Laisnima, who leads the Disaster Risk Reduction Forum that was formed in his district as part of the CWS-supported SOLIDARITAS initiative.
The 30 families in Eonfetnai hamlet in West Timor, Indonesia live, like many other villagers in the area, is a drought prone area. Until 2013, the hamlet had only one water source – an unprotected spring that, when it filled up, was contaminated by dirt, falling leaves and animal droppings. In the dry season, there was little or no water at all, and families spent a lot of time collecting water from distant scarce source.