As I am writing this, rising sea levels have swallowed 5 islands in the Solomon Islands. A rodent species in the Great Barrier Reef has gone extinct because of the sea levels. This is climate change.
The reality is climate change will hit the poorest communities in the world. And Philippines is one of the top 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change. One such community is in the island province of Masbate in Philippines. I recently visited Masbate where WWF Philippines is helping improve climate resilience amongst the communities in this region.
LIFE IN MASBATE
Nothing could have prepared me for the level of poverty and environmental impacts that I witnessed in this region. As one of the poorest regions in Philippines, this area seemed like it had been forgotten and left behind by progress and development. The communities here are heavily reliant on agriculture and fishing, which are sensitive to climate change effects such as rising sea temperatures and droughts. I saw homes destroyed by storms, bare lifestyles of meagre income, and children stunted by malnourishment.
“I just want [my children] to finish their studies as long as we can support them. Because I don’t want them to experience the hardships that I have experienced,” said Marissa Hate, a 37-year old mother as she looked at her daughter, Christine. A 13-year old girl, Christine is built small due to malnutrition. But her dream is to complete her education so she can help with family expenses.
For these communities, the only way out of poverty is through investments in their children’s education. But currently, most of their resources are tied up with the purchase of necessities such as rice, kerosene oil or water.
Why am I talking about this? Work like this is normally not associated with WWF but I believe we cannot afford to look away from this. The local citizens are really suffering from real-time impacts of climate change. Just a few basic amenities could change their lives. The convenience of my life starkly stands out in comparison to theirs, and I feel compelled to do something for them.
WHAT WWF WANTS TO DO
At WWF, we aim to provide these communities with a package of environmentally friendly yet highly useful amenities such as
1. Solar lamps – to give a sustainable, environmentally friendly and reliable light source for kids when they are studying and for fishermen who are going out to the seas at night
2. Container Farming system – to serve as a source of nutrients and as an additional income source
3. Rainwater tanks – to help them harvest and filter rainwater for drinking and cooking.
I strongly believe that together we can alleviate many of their problems. We’re raising money to help this community benefit from the above technologies. You can change the lives of people like Marissa with your generous contribution here: wwf.sg/changelivesnow