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This crisis impacts everyone, especially the poorest and youngest.

Meet the children on the frontline of the climate crisis then take action!

 

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“If men come, I sleep with them. If I say no how will I survive.”

It is not her choice. It is her last resort to keep herself and her family alive.
Drought has plundered everything from her, even her dignity.

Cavo is a 15-year-old  who resorted to prostitution so that she can feed her mother and grandmother.
She yearns to be in school or pursue another job but she has no other way to survive.
At times, she is paid less than a dollar for spending a day with a client.
She knows of other girls in her neighbourhood, who are stuck in the same plight.

Drought has wiped out crops, leaving rural-farming communities with little to no food.
As food prices increase because of scarcity, day by day more girls become choiceless.

(Cavo only ate leaves the day before the interview, and the day before that hadn't eaten anything)

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“To be able to eat, I have to sell 20 bottles.”

It is not his choice. It is his last resort to keep himself alive.
Drought has plundered everything from him, even his .


Eliseu is an 11-year-old who stopped going to school because his family can no longer afford his school fees.
He sits by the border  and sells Quisangua (a drink made from sugar and maize) to people travelling across.
More children like him stand around in the scorching heat, hoping to sell and afford the next meal.

Drought has ransacked their lands, leaving their families in uncertainty of a future.
The severity of the drought is sweeping the chances of selling anything as people no longer have the money.


(Eliseu did not even have a meal the day before the interview)



More than 11 million people have been plunged into a hunger crisis across Southern Africa

and this is set to worsen over the coming months.
Drought has not only dried their lands but also their hopes.
Crops are wiped out. Thousands of cattle are killed.
With nothing left to make a living, rural farming communities are scrounging for food and water.

 

We fear the consequences of Climate Change but on the other side people have become the faces of Climate Change.

 
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The Forest Maker
who turned barren lands into fields of green.

World Vision’s Tony Rinaudo is the man who championed a reforestation technique over 35 years ago that led to the largest possible environmental transformation across Africa. Known as Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration or FMNR, the simple farming practise has morphed desert plains into reforested and productive farmland.

The Fruits of his Work

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In Niger, five million hectares of land with over 200 million trees have been restored through FMNR with two and a half million lives impacted from the use of the land.  

Over 27 countries under World Vision’s purview such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Kingdom of Eswatini, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali, Burundi, Ghana, Senegal, India, Myanmar, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Haiti, India, Lebanon and Sri Lanka are practising FMNR today – decreasing the risk of famine and improving child nutrition.


Humble Beginnings


Armed with a Bachelor of Rural Science, Tony arrived in the parched farmlands of Niger in 1981. The country was besieged by drought and famine. Tony soon assessed that a lack of trees was the problem (average tree density was only about four trees per hectare or most of the times zero). He also realised that deforestation was not primarily caused by drought and goats, but by false beliefs, negative attitudes and destructive behaviour towards trees and land.

From that point on he set about respectfully, patiently and persistently trying to convince people that it was in their best interests to have trees in their landscape and to care for the land. Trees are the glue that holds the land together; trees shade the soil and grazing animals from fierce heat, and they help keep it fertile.

However, his attempts through two years at introducing sustainable agricultural practices to farmers were becoming futile. “Most trees that we planted just died, the people weren’t interested and they called me the ‘mad white farmer’ for even wanting to think of such an idea, because in their minds they were hungry, they were poor, and trees competed with the crops they were trying to grow—in their thinking,” said Tony.


The Dawning

One day, he was driving down a dirt track in Niger when he stopped to change a flat tyre. Exhausted, Tony stared down the dirt track and out into the harsh desert.

“It dawned on me how useless it all was. In every direction there were no trees. But then these shrubs caught my eye, and I suddenly realised this wasn’t a shrub but a tree trying to regrow.”

For the first time he noticed the small green leaves sprouting from a nearby tree stump. Tony knew that this tree stump had the potential to flourish. All along, it was “an underground forest” just waiting to bounce back to life.

It was a revelation that has transformed the lives of millions of people today.


Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration

The successful regreening program involves selecting and managing stems growing from live stumps, roots and seeds in the landscape. The original tree population is regenerated to produce thriving forests and productive farmland.  From revitalised lands, farmers are able to improve their harvests and livestock productivity resulting in increased income.

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“If you work with nature instead of fighting against it all the time,

nature will work for you.”

Tony Rinaudo.

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Grooming the Next Generation

World Vision field staff visit schools around Africa to plant the seeds of FMNR, witnessing first-hand the joy on young children’s faces as they share the secrets of the technique. 

Tony proudly says how children are groomed to become the ambassadors to safeguard their land.

“A lot of the kids tell us they have to go out and find wood both for school kitchens, and the home, and it’s a real burden. It means they can’t play, can’t do homework. Our field staff and volunteers show them how to prune useless looking bushes, selectively trim branches, and grow them into tree and explain why they should not chop down trees.  

“Their faces light up when we tell them about what we do, and they go home and start pruning and tell their parents about it. They see red when they see trees being cut down and say things like - ‘You are destroying our future’,” says Tony.

By educating children, World Vision continues to raise awareness so that history will not repeat itself and we raise a generation that lives in harmony with the nature. No matter the crisis, #hiddenheroes like Tony Rinaudo have risen up to make an extraordinary impact.

 
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RAJASTHAN, INDIA
A Generation Leading a Green Revolution

At the doorstep of her home’s veranda, there is a gust of cool air blowing through the harsh and hot sun. Living in a village which is a scorched and unquenched land, Radha’s home stands out looking almost like a sanctuary. A massive fruit and vegetable garden adorns the front-yard and an Indian lilac tree extending its branches for refreshing shade. These are a testament to the relentless pursuit of the 18-year old and her brother, Ram, to grow greens.

From lady’s finger, eggplant, guava, mango to banana and more, their garden is a bustling haven with a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

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It all began three years ago when Radha and her brother were given saplings to grow and nurture at their home through the plantation sensitisation programme conducted by World Vision among children from their community.

 “When we learnt about the importance and benefits of trees, we decided to grow plants and trees that bear fruits and vegetables so that we can help our parents, who are farmers. Over the past few years, there was hardly any water for them to grow and harvest crops. They were struggling to earn money”, says Radha.

“At that time, there wasn’t a single plant here on our front yard. This entire garden has come up over these past three years. Now, we hardly buy fruits or vegetables  from the market”, adds Ram.

Children’s clubs and sensitization programmes on environment are initiated with the intention that children will realise the importance of protecting and conserving the environment. Becoming agents of change in their respective communities, children are empowered to facilitate a community-led natural environmental regeneration.

“We didn’t know our ancestors had such rich heritage of indigenous plants and trees here. We want to bring that back to our village”, says Radha and Ram.

Despite the deficit in rainfall for over three years, children in Radha’s community are planting seeds of hope. In a survey conducted in four of fifteen villages where World Vision ran the plantation sensitisation programme, 81.51% of saplings given to these children are alive and thriving. 63.78 % of them are already bearing fruits and an average of 23 kilograms of fruit is being procured by each family.

By engaging and empowering children, World Vision is able to shift perceptions within communities to nurture their environment despite climate change—helping them to thrive and eventually beat poverty.


MANDALAY, MYANMAR

“We call ourselves the ‘Superhero children’ because we want to be examples in our community”,

says 11-year-old Min Khant.

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Together with some children in his community, Min created a Children’s Club to protect the environment and to do their part in keeping climate-related disasters at bay.

His community is frequently faced with severe heat waves, hail, heavy rains and tropical storms throughout the year. During heavy rains, they are prone to flooding. “We have to use boats to go to school”, shares Min. These boats are often the only mode of transportation the children are left with during a disaster, posing significant threat to their lives. Moreover, the floods also scatter garbage and bring along water-borne diseases that plagues his people.

Through the Children’s Club that Min started, children are engaged in multiple environmental protection activities. They volunteer to pick up trash along the streets that are thoughtlessly thrown by people—the improper waste disposal degrades the quality of the soil making it unsuitable for farming and agriculture in the long run. The piling of wastage also leads to the clogging of water flow in the drainages which are dangerous in times of flooding.

From planting trees to nurturing them regularly, Min also advocates the need for trees in his community.

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“A grown tree can produce oxygen sufficient for four people for a day. So, if we must cut down a tree, I suggest to re-plant three more to make-up for the loss. I would like to let people know that trees are essential to us and we need to grow more,” says Min.

For Min, his zest to make a difference in his community began when he attended World Vision’s consultation workshop. During this workshop, children and youths are given the opportunity to discuss their views and experiences on disaster risk, climate change and their hopes for the future. Awareness is also raised on the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Crisis among the children and youth. Such workshops serve to build the capacity of children and empower them to know how much they can contribute.

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Eventually, these children become the agents of change in their community as they impart their knowledge to their peer groups, families and community.

Together with Radha and Min, there are many children who are hidden heroes in their community who courageously pursue their dreams. They continue to pave the path to build a world where we do not have to fear nature and nature does not fear us. From overcoming their circumstances and leading a change, we have a promising generation rising up to lead a green revolution.

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In 2018, Xenia Tan & her team from The Smart Local, a leading local guide portal in Singapore collaborated with World Vision and went on a trip to experience the life of a drought-stricken community living below the poverty line.

Hidabu Abote, Ethiopia

Abote is a region prone to disasters. Drought and shortage of rain has led to a loss of their main form of livelihood that is farming. Poverty, hunger, and shortage of water has become part and parcel of their lives.

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The fields were much hotter and were barren, surrounded by only rocks. Due to landslides, water has carried away the top layer of soil into the hills which is the most fertile for farming. As the families cannot grow crops, they are often left with nothing to eat.

During Xenia’s visit to a local village that was affected by repeated years of drought and snow ,she heard some heart-wrenching stories from the villagers on the impact of climate change and disaster in their community.

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Tesfaye, 21-year-old went 600km away from his family and his home to seek a job to feed his family.

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His father Berhanu said,“2 years ago, we were affected by drought. Last year, when the snow came we were expecting high output from the crops, but we made a loss. Our children had to drop out of school. We are worried about their future.”

As for Faye Wakayo, a 76-year-old man, his four sons went away to the city to look for jobs. Due to his old age, he seldom gets work as a labourer in the village. For Faye, everyday is a day filled with uncertainty of where and when his next meal will come from.

It takes a long time for the community to recover from a drought. Even as they struggle to recover and rebuild from a drought, another season and another drought strikes again, throwing them into further despair and helplessness. Exacerbating climate changes and extreme weather patterns pushes them into a vicious cycle of poverty.

Moved by the graciousness of the people, who were willing to host her despite having so little, Xenia wanted to give back as much as she could.

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She planted trees with the community on the hill. She built the house of a farmer. She gave the food she wanted to bring back home as souvenirs to a vulnerable family she met.

Despite all these, Xenia says,

“Yet, I feel so helpless,
I feel so small.
Because how many trees can I plant, how many homes can I build and how much food can I give?
It will never be enough for them.”  

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Despite the hopelessness she felt, Xenia met a farmer whose life was transformed with the help of World Vision. Mr Assefa was able to maintain his livelihood as a farmer and improve his living conditions. He learnt to grow drought-resistant crops and was provided with the necessary seedlings to tackle climate change and poverty. The children in his community were also taught on how to be disaster-resilient.

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“I truly, truly hope that all the vulnerable families here will one day be like Mr Assefa. For those who have enough, let’s give a little more today because you’ll never know you might just change someone’s life.”

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You can be the hidden hero in the life of a child and a community, making what they think is impossible, possible for them. You can #fightclimatechange together with the. This World Environment Day, you can pledge to make the extraordinary impact.

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Abala Longena Gamsalwa Mountain was covered with dense jungle and was the home of diversified wild animals species including lions, leopards, hyenas, python, deer and more.

In the late 1960s, people who lived around the mountain started cutting down trees for construction, firewood, charcoal and cleared it for agricultural purposes. A devastating drought that hit the land in 1985, intensified the frequency of cutting and clearing trees as it was their only hope for survival. Ever since then, cutting down trees for firewood and charcoal became the community’s source of livelihood. Due to this, the forest dwindled in an unprecedented rate and changed into bushlands. This was the beginning of an appalling nightmare.

Flashfloods began to terrorize the community living around the mountain and led to severe soil erosion. Farmlands became valleys which could no longer reap a harvest. Deforestation collapsed the eco-system and led to the degradation of their lands.

The low agricultural productivity together with the rapid population growth, food insecurity became a threat to the communities. Dry farmlands, lost livelihoods, empty stomachs and a bleak future. The only solution to the crisis, was to rehabilitate the degraded natural resources.


In 2006, World Vision began the

‘Humbo Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) Project to restore the barren mountain together with the community. More than half a million native seedlings were planted and existing shrubs/bushes were pruned and nurtured.

Today, the mountain is a glorious sight to withhold.

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Almost 3,000 hectares have been reforested.
A total of 181, 650 tonnes of carbon dioxide was captured that also allowed the community to make $731,000 of carbon revenue from the sale of carbon credits.

The impact was tremendous that even the satellites in space could not fail capturing the green oasis amidst a degraded landscape.

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It stands as a testament for what Franklin D Roosevelt says

“Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out of balance also the lives of men.”

 

Within the community, the people reported an 83% decrease in on-farm soil erosion and a 74% increase in on-farm soil fertility. Families are no longer caught in the uncertainty of food supply.

 

The Life of Aster, a 35-year-old mother and a beneficiary of the Humbo Project

Before the Humbo Project

“My family of seven did not get even one meal a day and usually went to bed hungry for more than six months. While I was pregnant and still carrying my younger son, I used to carry a full sack of wood charcoal or a sack of maize on my head and travel to Humbo for eight hours from my village to sell the charcoal or use the flour mill service,” Aster recalled with grief. 

After the Humbo Project

“Now I am able to increase the production of maize by nine to ten times on one hectare of land. I have been able to grow different fruits and edible plants such as mangoes, papayas, sugarcane, cassava and others both for my family’s consumption and for sale. I have enough food on the table every day and I send all my children to school,” she expressed with a feeling of relief and confidence.

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Goodbye to Firewood

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 “We had to get up early in the morning and walk 3-4 kilometres with Father to fetch firewood for the traditional cooking stove. It was an exhausting task and I got tired very often. Sometimes, due to the heat, I used to feel dizzy and develop headaches.

After bringing the firewood home, Mother had to start a fire for cooking. The smoke would spread throughout the house and made the walls of our kitchen black,” says 12-year-old Ravinder.

 

In many rural parts of the world, people often rely on firewood as a source of fuel for their daily needs such as cooking. Jungles are cleared to meet the needs of communities, but burning firewood is hazardous. It leads to pollution which further damages the environment and it also poses a risk of developing acute respiratory infections.

 

“Cutting trees from the jungle for firewood was a laborious and time consuming process that also destroyed the forests. Starting our traditional cooking stove was tedious because we had to collect the firewood, burn it, and wait for it to set ablaze and then cook. This process had to be repeated every time we needed to cook—even to make simple things like tea,” says Ravinder’s father.

 

To eliminate dependency on firewood, bio-gas units were given to households so that they can optimally utilise the raw materials present in their home to produce clean fuel to run their kitchen. A household having 3 to 4 cattle, cows or buffalos, could easily meet the raw material requirement to power a 2 cubic bio-gas unit. Ravinder’s family was one of the 152 families that were provided with the bio-gas unit by World Vision. 

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“Now with the bio-gas unit, we don’t have to cut trees anymore. When the level of the bio-gas tank goes up , we know that gas is being produced inside. We should not cut trees because they give us fresh air and fruits to eat. They also give us shade. We should protect trees," says Ravinder.

 

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"The food tastes better when cooked on this new stove. It doesn’t smell of smoke anymore. The rotis are clean and white," says Ravinder’s 8-year-old little brother.

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“Ravinder’s household is one of the many good examples where project interventions have reduced carbon emissions, contributed to the household food basket, produced organic manure through materials available in the house, and also enabled economic benefit," says Salmon Jacob, Advisor – Environment (Climate Change), World Vision India.

 

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In an attempt to build resilient communities, World Vision has targeted interventions like renewable energy, climate resilient agriculture, and agro-forestry which are instrumental in improving the health of the natural environment to protect both people and planet.

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Mangroves For The Win

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Novie Sucgang was born and raised on the island of Tabon, Batan, Aklan. She was raised by her father, where they depended on the sea for a living. Now with a family of her own, her husband also relies on fishing to support their four children.

“The sea has been a big blessing to us. Most of the people in our village are fisherfolks — only few of us in the village have farm lands.”

But, she attributes some of the challenges threatening the safety of this thriving fishing village to climate change. The sea can give, but may also take away Elders in the village say that in the past 20 years, the shoreline was almost 200 metres away from the village.

 

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When typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November 2013, it eroded three to four metres of the shoreline, making the sea much closer to the houses.

“When I was growing up, we were really far from the sea. Now, there are 80 houses that are within 40 metres to the shoreline,” Novie explains. She tells of her greatest fear: to see the shoreline right at her doorstep. The sea is their provider but she’s well aware that if things continue the way they have been, it might also displace the more than 800 residents of the village. Something needs to be done.

A solution for protecting homes close to the sea: Mangrove reforestation

Mangroves produce organic biomass (carbon), contributing 1,800-4,200 grams of carbon per square metre per year. They not only reduce organic pollution necessary to combat global warming, but they also help in the protection of coastal areas.

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Mangroves protect coastal areas and communities from storm surges, waves, tidal currents and typhoons. The crown and stem of mangroves serve as physical barriers. Their specialized roots trap and hold sediments and siltation from the uplands.

In addition to protection, mangroves have also been helpful in the fishing community, serving as refuge for young fish, shrimp, crabs and other sea animals.

“We’ve always wanted to plant mangroves but given that most of us are surviving on a day-to-day basis, we cannot always mobilise people to do the work,” explains Novie.

World Vision, through its commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) shouldered the mobilisation cost. It was able to get 96 people in the community to do the task. Over seven days, the community searched for seedlings on the island coming up with more than 20,000 seedlings. To ensure optimum survival rate, the seedlings were transferred to plastic bags and were kept in temporary nurseries.

Within three weeks, transplanting began. A buffer of 2,000 more seedlings were reserved to make sure that the mangroves that will die will immediately be replaced, ensuring the necessary amount of mangroves will be standing to provide the protection intended.

“The extent of erosion is big that it reached private properties. We do not have control on that. We’re hoping for the best result. We’re committed to battling soil erosion. We understand that this is hard work but we’re willing to work on it. After all, we want to grow old in this place.”

 

You can pledge to stand with communities like Aklan to fight climate change that is threatening their lives and livelihoods.

 

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 HOW YOU CAN HELP

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Alleviate the impacts of climate change. 

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Safeguard our children’s future.

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Journey with vulnerable communities to sustainability. 

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