“…When I was a young girl…you would know which month we would have rain, which month would be dry, so as a farmer you could prepare what you are going to plant. But things are different now everything has changed. The rainy month turned to drought, the dry month turned rainy, in the hot month a storm is blowing. Everything has changed.”-- Hazelyn, farmer and housewife, Mocho, Jamaica
The International Panel on Climate Change latest report highlights that developing countries will experience the effects of climate change disproportionately. This is largely due to poverty, which inhibits the capacity of people to find the resources to adjust to and cope with climatic changes. It is also due to the fact that many of the world’s poorest people inhabit marginal lands where natural resources may be limited and their livelihoods stretch the limits of the local environment. Under such circumstances additional stresses such as extreme weather can have a devastating effect. However, because of their precarious situation the poor are also experienced coping with and adapting to crisis situations. Panos is using oral testimony as a methodology to hear from such communities themselves about their relationship with their environment and their responses to climate change and other environmental changes. Identifying how communities are already adapting climate change is an important step towards discovering what their priorities are. Giving a voice to people in this way enables them to share their experiences, obstacles and positive initiatives with other communities and policy-makers. Valuing their knowledge alongside more traditionally authoritative sources such science-based knowledge can be an empowering experience for the communities involved.
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