Abby Mason Communications Planning and Data Manager
12th Mar 2014
The other day, someone asked me why I care about climate change. To be honest, I was taken aback - after all, the person I was talking to reads the papers and has surely seen some of the same articles I have. You know the ones, telling us about the huge risk of a 2 degree increase in global temperatures, rising sea levels or changing weather patterns?
But her question might be a valid one. Why do we care? I mean, I don't feel much of an emotional connection to carbon molecules in the atmosphere. I care about people, not chemistry.
I'm lucky enough to work for Oxfam, which means I get to hear some amazing stories from some inspiring people around the world. It was one of these stories which reminded me why I care so much about climate change, and why I'm so glad that Oxfam are going to be campaigning on it in a big way very soon.
Meet Mariam Maussa. She's 40 and lives in Chad, a landlocked country in central Africa, which is increasingly feeling the effects of climate change. Rains are becoming less predictable and droughts are getting longer.
Mariam is finding farming more and more difficult, but she's fighting back, with a little help from Oxfam.
"It is very, very hard to raise seven children. We don't have a lot of food for the family because it's not easy to find food. That's why I started to think about what I could do, so that I could manage to bring them up. Then I found my chicken idea."
Mariam is now the leader of a 'Chicken Cooperative' in her village, where local women now share the responsibility for breeding and raising chickens. Through their hard work, and a small investment by Oxfam, they now manage a large flock. All the women have all been trained on how to spot disease, vaccinate the birds and regulate the health and egg production of this growing brood.
Mariam is incredibly proud, and works hard so that she and her family can safely eat the eggs and chickens she farms, plus they even sell some of these birds at the local market.
"It was my vision to start a chicken cooperative. I used to keep chickens in my house, but I couldn't rear enough to feed my family and the community. I thought it would be better to get the women together to form a cooperative, so I asked Oxfam for support. When I first suggested the idea to the women they said "Mariam has gone mad!" but now the women see that the project is working. Even people from other communities have come to see it. I am glad that you are here to see it too. We are very focused on our work."
Villages all over this region of Chad are feeling the effects of unpredictable weather. But they are doing something about it. Mariam's village and others in four districts in her region are also setting up market gardens. Oxfam is supporting each village by helping them realise their ideas of changing what they are growing. We help keep their enthusiasm going and provide gardening tools and seeds. By learning and growing different types of vegetables, they are staggering their harvests to make sure they have a reliable source of food throughout the
(Left) Kaltouma Mahamat (standing) and Hawa Ali Adoum (red clothing) plough the land in their market garden in Kamcalaga, Chad.
And what's more, Oxfam have built food and animal feed stores that help Mariam and her community to put aside grains and cereals for when times get hard. They can survive and thrive even when the harsh weather comes.
The way Mariam is responding to the challenges life chucks at her is truly amazing, but the fact is that climate change is making her life harder. And that's why I care about climate change, and that's why I want you to join with us to campaign on it.
What can I do?
Climate change is here; it's what we do about it that will dictate how bad it will get. From the end of March 2014 Oxfam will be campaigning to help stop the predicted, devastating effects, and get governments and big corporations to really start taking climate change as a serious issue that they need to combat.
We'll need your help, and every voice counts. Together we can push our governments to take action now: Mariam's started, why can't we?