Groundbreaking study shows how to protect a third of our oceans by 2030

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

A scientific report released today has mapped out how to protect over a third of the world’s oceans in the next ten years – a target scientists say is crucial in order to safeguard wildlife and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

As governments meet at the UN this week to negotiate towards an historic Global Ocean Treaty, the report shows how this ambitious target could be achieved, through a network of ocean sanctuaries across the planet.

The report, titled 30×30: A Blueprint For Ocean Protection, is the result of a year-long collaboration between leading academics at the University of York, University of Oxford, and Greenpeace.

Greenpeace New Zealand oceans campaigner, Jessica Desmond, says as an island nation with  the fourth largest EEZ on the planet, it’s vital New Zealand gets behind the Global Ocean Treaty.

“The strongest possible Global Oceans Treaty would include a global body to designate, monitor and implement marine sanctuaries internationally,” she says.

“As yet the New Zealand delegation has not fully committed to this approach, but if we leave it up to regional bodies to do this we will get the haphazard ‘status-quo’ of oceans protection, which has failed so far.”

The historic report explains how healthy global oceans, full of marine life and able to perform their vital climate regulation role, benefit all life on Earth, including coastal communities everywhere.

In one of the largest ever studies of its kind, researchers broke down the global oceans – which cover almost half the planet – into 25,000 squares of 100×100 kilometres, and mapped the distribution of 458 different conservation features, including wildlife, habitats and key oceanographic features, generating hundreds of scenarios for what a planet-wide network of ocean sanctuaries, free from harmful human activity, could look like.

Professor Callum Roberts, a marine conservation biologist at the University of York and one of the report’s authors, says the speed at which the high seas have been depleted of some of their most spectacular and iconic wildlife has taken the world by surprise.

“Extraordinary losses of seabirds, turtles, sharks and marine mammals reveal a broken governance system that governments at the United Nations must urgently fix,” he says.

“This report shows how protected areas could be rolled out across international waters to create a net of protection that will help save species from extinction and help them survive in our fast-changing world.”

Negotiations at the UN towards a Global Ocean Treaty could pave the way for the protection of oceans outside of national borders, that cover 230 million square kilometres. This research explores what it would mean to fully protect 30% and 50% of the global oceans, both widely discussed ambitions for conservation targets.

Various scenarios for protection, as well as wildlife hotspots and threats to the ocean, can be explored using this interactive map.

ENDS

30×30: A Blueprint For Ocean Protection Report:

Executive Summary here.

Full report.

Interactive Map here.

Photo and video:

For a free-to-use collection of ocean photo and video, see here.

Contacts:

Jessica Desmond, Greenpeace NZ Oceans campaigner: +64 21 065 1914

Ellie Hooper, Greenpeace NZ communications and media: +64 22 561 1340

Luke Massey, Greenpeace International communications and media luke.massey@greenpeace.org, +44 (0) 7973 873 155

MIL OSI

Home truths about the tricky In-Work Tax Credit

Source: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

There I was, Sole Parent Beneficiary, lolling on the couch with my low-quality beverage, savouring the luxury of my state-funded holiday, when I found out that simply by securing four to six extra hours of paid work, I could increase my family’s weekly income by $72 (on top of the income earned), through the In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC). Well, I was instantly jolted from my listless apathy into that fixed-term, casual job compatible with my current working and childcare arrangements that I’d been avoiding for weeks!

Obviously, that didn’t happen. I’m not sure which theoretical model is used to legitimise the policy practice of incentivising work through offering financial rewards, but I’m picking it involves rats and switches. Yet the idea that work has to be made more financially attractive is important, because it’s the argument used to justify the existing disadvantage between the children of working parents and kids of beneficiaries. In 2008 the Human Rights Review Tribunal found the IWTC discriminatory but it was justified then – and again in the 2013 High Court Appeal – because of the “legitimate objective” of incentivising beneficiaries into work. That disadvantage manifests as material hardship for some of our most vulnerable population. And that’s somehow ok, because it’s the government’s job to entice parents into paid work by making it more financially rewarding? I can’t see there being any arguments that could justify children’s material hardship, but I don’t believe that the IWTC is an incentive at all, let alone one that legitimates discrimination.

It’s a bit silly

The premise that the lure of additional income suffices as motivation is, well, exactly the same premise you use when you’re looking for a job. As a beneficiary, I was actively seeking work. As far as incentives go, the IWTC is a bit like extra fries.

Is it an incentive or a supplement?

If the income from work is not in itself an incentive, and needs to be topped up by the government to make it worth the effort, then that raises another question. If work isn’t enough on its own, then isn’t the IWTC functioning as a tool to ensure income adequacy? I hope not, because if it is, that means we’re discriminating against children whose income is already below an adequate level.

There’s a counter-incentive at work

If the primary justification for IRD rewarding families in paid work is that it creates an incentive then what is WINZ up to? If IRD is dangling this tantalising treat before your eyes, then WINZ must be hovering nearby like the waiter who clears your glass before you’ve finished your drink. When you’re on a benefit the more you work, the less your payments are. If extra financial reward for work is considered an incentive by IRD, then isn’t WINZ’s abatement scheme a deterrent? Time for a game of incentive-off. Let’s say you’re offered 20 hours a week of ongoing casual work. From a purely motivational point of view, you could take it, so IRD will reward you with fries and a few hours of tinny Split Enz on hold. But there’s a catch. You need to come off the benefit to receive the IWTC. That means that in the weeks you don’t get 20 hours of work (like when your kids are sick) there’s no help from IRD or WINZ support. The other option is just to have your work-free WINZ burger, saving you the scramble to find 20 hours of casual, subsidised childcare at short notice (which, by the way, you’re not eligible for until you’ve been guaranteed the work that you can’t commit to until you arrange the childcare).

There’s an assumption that you don’t want to work (or don’t work already)

One of the problems with the incentive-scenario above is that the main difference between those two weeks was the availability of work. The incentive (carrot/stick) rationale sits within the weary old narrative of “welfare dependency” that National has been doling out since the 1990s. It’s a tenacious story, perhaps because it so neatly packages complex, systemic factors into a simple cause and effect story, ie. lazy people need to get off the dole. It justifies sanctions and incentives to correct individual outcomes. There is no justification, or evidence, to support the assumption that every person receiving welfare support will continue to do so. Yet the incentive is applied across the board. The assumption was that I needed an incentive. I didn’t. I needed a job. In the meantime, my kids missed out, even though they were in no way responsible for a local shortage in permanent positions.

It’s simplistic

There are many complex, intersecting factors that contribute to a need for temporary or long-term income support – disability, childcare, transportation infrastructure, change in relationship status, local labour markets, mental health, addiction, early offending, geography, education, specialised careers. I had casual part-time work as a disability support worker with an awesome little girl who I had been supporting for four years. I was looking for permanent work but I’d just come off the Student Allowance, it was the summer school holidays (I have two kids with a shared care arrangement) and there wasn’t a single role related to my recent qualification for months.

The criteria for the incentive is hard to meet

Even if finding another part-time, flexible role had been possible, it would have been too much to risk coming off the benefit for casual work, which might fall below the 20-hour threshold.

All those extenuating factors that come into play when you’re a beneficiary with casual, part-time employment – which happens to be pretty much the only work you’ll be lucky enough to get while you are actively seeking permanent employment, or have children in your care – make it hard to continually meet that 20 hour per week target. Casual work is by its nature unreliable, and coming off the benefit leaves you without a safety net in the weeks that you can’t work 20 hours. It only took until March for me to find permanent part-time employment. I then had the choice of staying on the benefit, or moving off it to then qualify for the IWTC, which I did. It wasn’t an incentive – I already had the job – it was a bonus that came with a job that had regular hours.

It reinforces the nuclear family model

If I’d still been married, I would have received the IWTC, because between the two parents, we would have made it to the 30 hour threshold. Instead the kids’ dad received it, because he worked 20 hours, and I didn’t, because I couldn’t.

We don’t really know if it works

The “success” of the IWTC hasn’t been measured qualitatively, by any observed change in people’s willingness to take the work-bait, but instead quantitatively, by how many people left the benefit for paid work.

The argument is weak, the evidence is poor, and yet here we are, busily stocking the supply-end of the labour market while penalising the kids whose parents can’t find work right now. Our welfare should be based on justice, fairness, equality. It isn’t, as long as we have the discriminatory policy of the IWTC. We need to change this. It’s not the kids’ fault.

MIL OSI

The response to global hunger is tragically inadequate

Source: Oxfam New Zealand

The “Global Report on Food Crises”, released today by the Food Security Information Network, says that more than 113 million people across 53 countries experienced acute hunger and required urgent food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance in 2018.

Reacting to the news, Oxfam France’s Executive Director Cécile Duflot, said:

“We live in a world of plenty, yet one in nine people are hungry, more than 110 million women, men and children require urgent humanitarian assistance, and two global food price crises in a little over ten years pushed 44 million people into povertyThis is a human-made crisis caused by conflict, climate change, and a broken global food system.

Decades of bad policy making have led to the corporate takeover of our food and agricultural systems where ensuring a decent income for farmers or a sustainable food supply comes a poor second to securing shareholder returns.

 

At the same time, governments have failed to invest in, or provide development aid for, smallholder agriculture – even though smallholder farmers, many of which are women, play a critical role in feeding hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

 

“Governments in rich and poor countries alike have promised bold reforms, but delivered little. That must change. Governments and aid donors must do far more to support women by promoting gender equality in agriculture to unleash their huge potential to help end hunger. They also must invest primarily in small-holder agriculture, where growth has been proven to be two to four times more effective at reducing hunger and poverty than in any other sector.”

 

Notes:

  • Oxfam’s new report “Ten Years after the Global Food Crisis, Rural Women Still Bear the Brunt of Poverty and Hunger” analyses the reforms implemented since the food price crisis in 2007-2008, and highlights why they will not be enough to prevent another crisis or end hunger.
  • The 2019 “Global Report on Food Crises” forecasts that conflict and insecurity will remain the main drivers of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in 2019, together with extreme climate events like Cyclone Idai and the drought in southern Africa, which will undermine the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people in the region.
  • Women play a crucial role in agriculture, feeding hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Yet, they face systemic discrimination – for instance when it comes to the right to own land or access to credit. However, the 2019 food crises report highlights that women are more likely to be food-insecure than men in every region of the world, and that they are disproportionately affected by climate change, conflict and displacement. In several countries, including Afghanistan and Ethiopia, the situation of women worsened in 2018, and they are more affected by acute malnutrition than a year before.
  • The report also underlines the need for more and better data on how emergencies impact hunger and food insecurity of women. This could help to better understand the root causes of malnutrition, and to fight them effectively.
  • The price of food commodities rose by 83% between early 2007 and May 2008. A similar spike in food prices happened again between 2010 and 2011. These spikes were driven by a range of factors, including food price speculation, increased global demand for biofuels, decreasing food stocks, the diversion of food for livestock, and extreme weather events linked to climate change. Structural problems which also contributed to the spike in food prices include the liberalization of agricultural trade, the concentration of distribution and input supply in the hands of a few corporations, the marginalization of smallholder farmers, declining public investment in agriculture and decreasing development aid to small-holder agriculture.
  • Reforms and increased investment in agriculture pledged in the aftermath of the crisis have been inadequate. According to UN estimates, there is an investment gap in developing-country agriculture of USD 260 billion annually.
  • Oxfam analyzed project data for EU development aid to the agricultural sector and found that, contrary to what it promised, only 2-3 percent of EU funding promoted gender equality in agriculture.
  • In a 2008 report, the World Bank states that growth in small-scale agriculture is two to four times more effective at reducing in hunger and poverty than growth in any other sector.

MIL OSI

New Child Poverty statistics will provide a sound baseline for reduction targets

Source: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is pleased to see Statistics New Zealand (SNZ) has been able to produce some sound baselines against which the Government can measure its progress in reducing Child Poverty.  ​

As CPAG has noted previously, the 2018 Household Economic Survey (HES) data was too limited a sample, and had other problems which has meant the Ministry of Social Development has not had confidence in the reported Child Poverty figures for the past two years. The new data has been compiled from a combination of the Household Economic Survey (HES) and administrative data (Integrated Data Infrastructure – IDI).

While this overcomes some of the problems it still needs to be recognised that the data is likely to underestimate the problem.

“The data based on the Household Economic Survey only captures those households who have a fixed address,” [1] says Associate Professor Susan St John, CPAG’s Economics spokesperson.

“The depth of the problem may be better understood if it incorporated more information about transient families who have been without a secure home.”

The first primary measure in the Child Poverty Reduction Act is the number of children living in households that have 50% of the equivalised median household income before housing costs (BHC). The new data show that 183,000 or 16.5% of all children live in households under this poverty line.

The second primary measure in the Act is the 50% After Housing Costs (AHC) fixed line measure which takes into consideration the huge impact housing costs have on low-income households. Using this measure, 254,000 children – nearly one-fifth of all children in Aotearoa – live in poverty.

Using the supplementary measures in the Act, 30% of all children lived in households that have less than 60% of the AHC equivalised median income, a total of 341,000 children. “Most worrying is that over half of these children – 174,000 – are living in very low-income situations, with household income falling below the 40% AHC line,” says St John.

The new statistics will provide the baseline for measuring changes over the next ten years that will test whether the Government’s Child Poverty Reduction targets are met. The targets include reducing the proportion of children in low income households (using the 50% BHC measure) from 16% of all children to 5%, reducing the number of children living with income under the 50% AHC measure from 23% to 10%, and those living in material hardship from 13% to 7%.

“The baseline poverty data does not include the impact of the Families Package implemented last year, as it is based on data collected from July 2017 to June 2018. The survey now in the field for 2018-19 will pick up some of the effects of increased spending on families and that will be reported on later this year. The full impact of the package won’t be clear until later in 2020,” says St John.  

“We urge the Government not to wait but to look more broadly at what the data is telling us now. Children living under the 40% AHC poverty line are likely to be living in families earning very low incomes from paid work or whose primary income is from a welfare benefit. These children are not helped nearly enough by the Families Package.”

CPAG reported on the impact of the Families Package and whether it would be sufficient to lift the worst-off children out of poverty in a 2018 paper.

“Because we know that the Families Package won’t lift the children under the 40% line up far enough, a broad range of other welfare changes is needed to help them, and we are looking to the Welfare Expert Advisory Group for their recommendations to improve these children’s lives,” says St John.

“We need an urgent response for these children and the opportunity to make their lives better is now.”

————————————————————–

[1]  The target population for the HES is New Zealand resident private households living in permanent dwellings. This means, for example, that those in institutions and those in non-permanent dwellings are not included. (https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/monitoring/household-income-report/2018/2018-household-incomes-in-new-zealand-report.doc)

MIL OSI

Cyclone Idai: Urgent action needed to reduce risk of disease and second disaster

Source: Oxfam New Zealand

In response to news reports that the number of cases of cholera in the cyclone devastated city of Beira has risen to 139, Oxfam calls for a well-coordinated effort to prevent and contain cholera and other waterborne diseases. Oxfam cannot confirm the reported cases.

Dorothy Sang, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Advocacy Manager in Beira, said: “Cholera is easy to treat and simple to prevent. The latest reported figures seem to be indicating a sharp rise, but numbers are thankfully still relatively low for now. So far there have not been any confirmed deaths from cholera but nevertheless we need a massive well-coordinated effort to overcome the huge challenges that are preventing relief from getting to people in need. We must get clean water and decent sanitation to people and simple things like soap to keep them safe from disease. 

“For the thousands of people who have lost their homes and all their possessions, any break-out of cholera could be devastating. The floods destroyed infrastructure, including water supplies and sewage systems, which means that potentially much of the water supply could have been contaminated.

“Today I saw real life-saving work in action. In the past 24 hours, Oxfam has mobilised trucks, built tap stands and got clean drinking water to over 2,200 people. I spoke to women who had just arrived at the new camps with absolutely nothing – not even a bottle with which to fetch water. They have been forced to bathe themselves and their children in whatever water they could find, often dirty and stagnant, left over from the cyclone. Now they have buckets, soap, and most importantly clean water, to help themselves and their family avoid risks of deadly diseases like cholera.”

Oxfam New Zealand’s Humanitarian Specialist Darren Brunk said Oxfam New Zealand had now launched a full scale appeal to help the many thousands of people affected by the devastating cyclone. “Oxfam is committed to helping southern Africa for as long as it takes,” he said.

“The thousands of people worst-hit by Cyclone Idai could now face a second emergency, with waterborne disease a real risk if the need for clean water, sanitation and hygiene is not met. A lack of enough clean water, temporary toilets, water purification tablets and hygiene kits needs to be addressed rapidly. 

“The aid that is beginning to arrive now is very welcome, but we will need much more,” he said.

In a consortium called COSACA – along with CARE and Save the Children – Oxfam is responding to prevent and contain cholera and other waterborne diseases including by trucking clean water into camps, promoting good hygiene to communities and distributing Certeza, a water-purification liquid. Oxfam is part of the cholera task force and will shortly begin hygiene promotion activities in the Munhava area where the cholera cases have been confirmed. In the next few days, Oxfam will fly 38 tons of water and sanitation equipment from our Bicester warehouse in the UK on a chartered flight directly to Beira. This will include over a thousand of latrine slabs to build emergency toilets, over 20 water bladder tanks to collect and store fresh water, 10,000 Oxfam jerry buckets to transport and keep water clean and safe, three desludging pumps with generators and over a hundred tap stands.

Donations to support Oxfam’s emergency response to Cyclone Idai in southern Africa can be made online at oxfam.org.nz/idai.

Photo: Sergio Zimba / Oxfam

MIL OSI

Latest ETS changes impotent without inclusion of agriculture

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

The Government has announced another range of changes to one of the country’s core policies to combat climate change, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).
Agricultural emissions remain completely excluded from the ETS.

Reacting to the changes Greenpeace campaigner Gen Toop says the Government has, again, failed to include the country’s biggest climate polluter, agriculture, into the ETS.

“No amount of tinkering with the ETS will make it effective at dealing with climate change if the dairy industry keeps getting given a free pass for their massive climate pollution.

“Industrial dairying, fuelled by synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is polluting the climate and threatening life as we know it. This Government needs to put agriculture into the ETS at 100%, immediately.”

ENDS

Contact:
Gen Toop, Greenpeace Campaigner 021 316 840

Nick Young, Head of Communications, Greenpeace

Email: nick.young@greenpeace.org, Mobile: +64 (0)21 707 727

MIL OSI

Dairy and fertiliser lobbies will pop champagne over PCE report

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s (PCE) just-released report, Farms, Forests and Fossil Fuels, looks to have been influenced by the agricultural lobby, says Greenpeace.

Senior Campaign and Political Advisor, Steve Abel, says while the report has some merit, it continues to treat our dirtiest industry – dairy – with kid gloves, because it focuses on offsetting the highly potent greenhouse gasses nitrous oxide and methane, rather than actually cutting them.

“We expect the champagne corks will be popping at Ravensdown and Dairy NZ this afternoon, because they are being let off the hook once again,” he says.

Greenpeace opposes the unbundling of greenhouse gasses, which Abel says, “goes against our international obligations”.

“Unbundling greenhouse gasses and then lumping nitrous oxide and methane into their own group is highly problematic,” he says.

“We don’t support the recommendation that nitrous oxide be put together with methane in climate policy. Nitrous oxide is a long-lived greenhouse gas, 298 times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide. It is also the most problematic gas for depletion of the ozone layer.

“Both methane and nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture must be urgently reduced at their source. That can only be done through eliminating synthetic nitrogen and heavily reducing cow numbers. We cannot primarily rely on offsetting these emissions through tree planting.”

Nitrous oxide emissions in agriculture come from the application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and livestock effluent. According to the Ministry for the Environment, direct nitrous oxide emissions from synthetic nitrogen fertiliser in New Zealand have increased 478% since 1990.

Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser is used on New Zealand farms to increase stocking rates. Since 1990, the use of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser has increased seven-fold in New Zealand. In the same period dairy cow numbers have more than doubled.

Abel says any serious response to the climate crisis must include the country’s biggest emitter – agriculture.

“To deal with the climate crisis requires a sense of massive, unified national effort, and this cannot be created if we are running a system which continues to privilege the agricultural industry and fails to deal with methane and nitrous oxide emissions at source,” he says.

“Privileging biological emissions also has international implications. Livestock produce 19% of global emissions, and it’s the area where New Zealand has a responsibility to offer global leadership.

“For New Zealand to dodge addressing agriculture is like Australia giving a free pass to the coal industry merely because they are hugely influential industries.

“We need the Government to listen to the science and the people and stand up to big lobbies like dairy, rather than kowtow to their influence.”

However, Abel says there are also positive aspects of the PCE report. Greenpeace supports the call for a cut to gross emissions of carbon dioxide, but says it must begin immediately and be achieved much sooner than 2075.

“We support getting to gross fossil fuel emissions down to zero, but waiting until 2075 is too late,” Abel says.

“To deal with the climate crisis requires an urgent transition away from industrial livestock farming. That starts with fewer cows, a ban on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, and a nationwide shift to regenerative farming.”

ENDS

MIL OSI

Oxfam Trailwalker raises almost a million dollars for charity

Source: Oxfam New Zealand

The fourteenth annual Oxfam New Zealand Trailwalker this weekend has raised almost a million dollars thanks to fundraising efforts from over a thousand participants.

Local Whakatane team “Lazer Photos & Cameras Deranged Four” powered through the 100km to cross the finish line first in 16 hours and 45 minutes. Team leader Kendan Gibson said they ran most of the way to achieve the incredible time, and although some of hills proved tough, there was “never a moment” that he thought they couldn’t do it.

“Just the hills, we slowed down a little bit as the body tired out. Running back through the town, we really got our run going again, which was real cool. The supporters and that have been massive.

“I would like to thank our support crew first, they were amazing. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. And just the local community getting around the whole thing – it was a big buzz.”

A drizzly Saturday morning saw the 250 teams of four set off on a mission to finish either 100 kilometres in 36 hours or 50 kilometres in 18 hours to raise money for Oxfam’s fight against poverty. Many teams walked through the night, with the last team coming at an admirable 35 hours and 3 minutes.

So far, participants have raised over $950,000 towards Oxfam’s work to eliminate poverty and injustice in the Pacific and around the world.

Oxfam New Zealand’s Fundraising Events Manager Lizzie Quill said: “Every single participant who challenged themselves this weekend for a good cause should know they’ve made a real difference.

“People living in poverty often have to walk long distances to collect something as basic as water. Thanks to the support of our wonderful participants and those who have donated, we will be able to change lives in the Pacific through Oxfam’s projects. The amazing physical and mental challenge that teams have just been through is absolutely incredible, as is the support from the local community. A huge thanks to everyone involved in making this event possible.”

Teams will continue to raise money until the fundraising deadline on 30 April, supporting Oxfam’s humanitarian and long-term development work in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Oxfam Trailwalker has so far raised $950,000 and is edging closer to its $1 million target. Donations to teams can be made at oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz.

Fastest times 100 km

1. Lazer Photos & Cameras Deranged Four 16h 45m (Whakatāne/Ōhope)
2. Don’t worry BEE happy 17h 44m (Whakatāne, Tauranga)
3. Trail Rangers 18h 01m (Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington)

Fastest times 50km

1. WSP Opus Locusts 7h 43m (Auckland)
2. Legs Miserables 7h 52m (Auckland/Hawke’s Bay/Manawatu-Wanganui/ Wellington)
3. We’ve Got the Power 7h 55m (Whakatāne, Ōhope)

-ends-

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact: 

Sarah Heeringa: Sarah.Heeringa@oxfam.org.nz, 021 939 450
Kelsey-Rae Taylor: Kelsey-Rae.Taylor@oxfam.org.nz, 021 298 5894

MIL OSI

A message of support and solidarity to the people affected by Cyclone Idai

Source: Oxfam New Zealand

As Oxfam leaders from across the world, attending our annual board meetings in Kenya, we send our solidarity to the people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi whose lives have been devastated by cyclone Idai. Our hearts go out to the families of those who have perished, and the more than 2.6 million people who have been robbed of precious livelihoods, homes and lands. Many of these people were already struggling to make ends meet and living in communities with fragile infrastructures such as roads, water and power. 

These floods are a sign of things to come. Climate change is a reality that we must all rise to confront and we must focus on building the capacity of the most vulnerable people so they can withstand its effects. That is why we work with others across the world to ensure that the most vulnerable communities – who have contributed least to the climate crisis – are not forced to bear the heaviest burden.

Oxfam teams are currently on the ground in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, working with other agencies to assess the extent of the damage and deliver life-saving support. The road to recovery for these communities will be a long one. Oxfam will walk alongside them in their journey. We commend the agencies and governments who assisted with rescue efforts. We must all redouble our efforts now to save and support people.

While the scale of this disaster is extreme, flooding and disasters in these parts of Southern Africa is the norm, not the exception. Yet the state of disaster preparedness has not improved over the years, and people’s lives continue to be lost and imperiled needlessly. We all need to do better, particularly governments.

This tragedy calls us to take bold action on climate change and disaster preparedness. The priorities of our governments must change to focus more on the resilience of their nations, and especially of poor women and children who are the most vulnerable. The lives and suffering of people affected by cyclone Idai must not be in vain.

Oxfam Executive Board, 2019

Follow Oxfam’s response on Twitter

Donate to Oxfam’s Disaster Response Fund

MIL OSI

Waking up to Idai. When extreme weather hits home

Source: Greenpeace New Zealand

Zimbabwe is a small country often known for its political and economic drama. But for those who truly know the country, they will tell you about its friendly people and idyllic weather. My father would often comment on just how perfect the weather in Zimbabwe was.

It’s hard to believe those words are describing the country I am seeing on the news right now. Cyclone Idai has left a path of complete destruction in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. Millions are affected and the death toll and devastation continues to rise. The UN says this may be the worst disaster to ever hit this region.

Worst but not the first. Extreme weather events have been increasing in the region over the years:

  • This planting season, Zimbabwe experienced a mid-season drought caused by unusually high temperatures, threatening the harvest.
  • In 2000 both Mozambique and Zimbabwe were battered by Cyclone Eline.
  • And experts say the drying up of Malawi’s Lake Chilwa has increased due to climate change.

Locals stand beside a damaged section of the road between Beira and Chimoio in Nhamatanda district, central Mozambique, on March 19, 2019, after the area was hit by the Cyclone Idai. © ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP/Getty Images

The beautiful northeastern region of Zimbabwe, Chimanimani, home to lush green mountain ranges, is the hardest hit in the country. Roads, phone lines and homes have been destroyed and lives have been lost. Like many Zimbabweans in the diaspora, I felt frustrated being so far from home.

But after posting a plea on social media to find out how I could help, I was overwhelmed by the response. Despite the difficulties facing many in Zimbabwe, individuals, organisations, communities across the country came together and used their collective power to mobilise in mass and provide relief to those most affected.

Huge numbers of volunteers worked with local charities to mobilise donations for Cyclone Idai victims © Benevolent Masora for BLCK Media

Our planet’s climate continues to change and it’s upsetting to see the most vulnerable bear the worst of the devastating impacts. It’s worrying to know that this will not be the last time an event like this occurs at home, and it’s angering to know that this is something that leadership, not only in Africa but around the world, can take action on.

Climate change policy can no longer afford to be a side event to economic and social development in Zimbabwe and other African countries. The world needs to urgently act on its commitment to the Paris Agreement.

But as more volunteers and communities take action, I’m reminded that we are not helpless in all of this. People-powered movements are growing and demanding more climate action from governments and corporations than ever before.

Many are still in need of aid as the impact of Cyclone Idai slowly starts to be evident. Here are some organisations working to help those most affected:

You can also take action and stand up for climate justice by joining the movement here.

Kudzayi Ngwerume is a content editor with Greenpeace International

MIL OSI